Lineage II: The Chaotic Throne - The Kamael PC-DVD
Published by: NCsoft
Developed by: NCsoft
Release Date: Out Now
Plenty of MMORPG games these days attempt to be more accessible to those who don’t fancy a traditional MMORPG experience. In order to appeal to a larger audience a lot of recent MMORPG titles have shifted the emphasis away from being a tedious level-grinding experience. One of the pleasing qualities of the ever-popular World of Warcraft is that it has both a gentle learning curve and is immediately enjoyable. Even when you have a low-level character, the game is fun and never makes you feel like you have to invest an ungodly amount of hours into the game before it becomes interesting. Not all MMORPG’s are so approachable however. Lineage II: The Chaotic Throne – The Kamael is very much a traditional MMORPG and one that makes no concessions for those who aren’t in the mood to grind their way through the tedious early stages of the game.
As the title suggests, The Chaotic Throne adds an extra playable race to the Lineage II experience: The Kamael. In total there are six races to choose from: Human, Elf, Dark Elf, Orc, Dwarf and Kamael. Character customisation is very limited. You get to pick your character’s gender, their hairstyle and colour, and pick one of the few faces available. There’s not a lot you can do to make your character truly original (from a visual standpoint) meaning that your character has a rather generic look. There are only a couple of character classes to pick from initially (some races don’t even give you a choice), which is also disappointing. More classes and options open up as your character develops but there should definitely be more options available to you early on in the game.
Once you’ve created your character you’ll be surprised to find that there’s little in the way of a gentle introduction to the game. It’s as if the developers have assumed you’ve played previous Lineage titles and don’t need anything in the way of an introduction. Early quests are boring and won’t do much to keep you coming back for more. You’ll also have a few problems finding characters that are willing to dish out a quest to your low-level character. One of the first NPCs I encountered insisted on my character being level 15 before he would issue a quest. You would have thought that the NPCs you encounter in the first stages of the game wouldn’t insist on anything above level 4 or 5. The upshot of this is that you’ll have spend several hours levelling-up before you can really progress in the game. To add insult to injury, the game seems to be rather stingy in dishing out the experience and even the early levels can take far longer to reach than you might expect. There are a few advantages given to low-level characters such as, not taking any experience away from you character if they are killed when below level 9 but it’s not enough to compensate for throwing you immediately into level-grinding tedium. Seasoned MMORPG gamers will be rather forgiving of this oversight but it’s unlikely to impress anyone who’s picked The Chaotic Throne – The Kamael as their first MMORPG.
It soon becomes obvious that any items worth their salt in the game are very expensive. You would generally expect the better items in any MMORPG/RPG to cost a lot of money but here the prices asked for even moderately useful items are obscene. Of course, this compounds the aforementioned problem of having to grind through the levels in the very early stages of the game because your principal way of making money is to collect it from slain enemies. It also adds to the impoverished feeling you have at the start of the game. Worthwhile quests are hard to come by until you’ve levelled up considerably and the worthwhile items are far in excess of your price range until you’ve invested a fair few hours defeating hoards of enemies.
If you invest the time and get through the rather tedious first few hours of the game then things begin to improve. That’s not to say there’s anything here that’s wildly different from many other MMORPG’s though. One aspect of the game that does come across as something different is the control scheme. Quite a few MMORPGs allow you to use the WASD keys to move your character around. In The Chaotic Throne – The Kamael you’ll be using a point and click control system that’s not quite as comfortable to use. You have to point and click to move your character around. The right mouse button is used to control the camera angle whilst the mouse wheel is used to alter your zoom level. It’s quite possible to play the game using just the mouse. Thankfully though you do have several hotkey functions to help reduce the amount of mouse clicks you have to make. It could also be argued that Lineage II is an MMORPG that’s best enjoyed when you’re part of a clan. There’s a greater emphasis on PVP than in most MMORPG titles and you’re less likely to come a cropper when playing as part of a clan. Whilst this will please some, it won’t do much for those who like to go it alone.
Graphically, The Chaotic Throne looks OK. Our review PC is nowhere near state of the art but it coped with the game quite nicely. The character models look rather good (although as we pointed out earlier, you’re not going to see much variation in the character models due to the lack of customisation options). As with most MMORPG titles, the game has a medieval, fantasy look to it and it looks good. You could even argue that the characters have a slight anime-style appearance to them which is rather pleasing. The Kamael kind of look like one-winged fallen angels and from a visual standpoint, contrast well with the races already available in Lineage II.
Like most MMORPG games, The Chaotic Throne won’t give deaf gamers any real problems. That said, when you first play the game there is some verbal tutorial information that isn’t subtitled. There is text tutorial information but it’s not quite the same as the information that is given verbally which is unfortunate. Quest information is given in text and can be recalled should the need arise. Text chat is supported and there is integrated support for MSN Messenger.
Lineage II: The Chaotic Throne – The Kamael is actually a fairly good MMORPG and one that rewards extended play. However, in many ways, it is a traditional MMORPG with all that this entails. To a certain degree it’s also one that’s difficult to review as the emphasis has definitely been placed on making the game a richer experience for those who can devote months and months of their life to the game. More character classes, huge siege battles and, of course, access to the better items in the game are just some of the niceties that will reward those who progress their characters to the higher levels. I’ve only had a few weeks playing the game and I have to say that it’s been difficult to stomach just how little effort has been put into making the early hours of the game as welcoming as possible. It’s a game that relies on power-levelling to an obsessive extent and amassing huge sums of money. Fans of previous Lineage titles won’t be deterred by this however, and those who like to grind their way through an MMORPG won’t find it a problem (in fact they will appreciate how the game continues to reward those who invest many hours into the game) but those who are accustomed to the more accessible MMORPG titles such as World of Warcraft might find it all a bit much.