As pretty much everyone on the planet knows, the 3rd Aion Beta event is underway this weekend but maybe what they don’t know is that I happen to also be partaking in it. I don’t really want to go into huge detail about it all because almost every other blog out there has already either summarised or reviewed it in some form so I’d just be repeating stuff they’ve already said. Plus I haven’t played it nearly enough to pass any concrete judgement on it other than my initial impressions. However, if you want to find out more information about the game than I can supply, I can recommend Keen and Graev’s Aion vs WAR and Aion vs WoW comparisons, they are quite informative.
Aion is impressive. From the moment you download the game to the moment you log out of your first play session, it’s slick and steady with a style and form that walks up to you, slaps you in the face and yells, “you’re gonna like me, sucka”. It’s absolutely nothing you haven’t seen before but I don’t consider that to be a bad thing. People deride it by saying that it’s just a WoW clone but then I say WoW was just a clone of Everquest. Almost every MMORPG that comes out is similar to the last set except they have a couple of new features or do something a little differently. It doesn’t hamper my enjoyment of the genre – although I’d love to see some more innovation and drastic changes, it’s what I’ve come to expect. However, being a good game doesn’t necessarily mean doing something new, sometimes it can just mean doing something the best.
The combat in Aion is fast, fun and funky and the music and environment really come together to form a cohessive experience. The controls are a little odd to me, just like Lineage 2, and I constantly find myself trying to move the camera around my character but accidentally using the wrong mouse button. It also has the Korean movement technique of clicking somewhere on the ground to make your character run to that spot. Although quite useful it’s very alien to me and slightly off putting. I’m sure they will let you disable the feature at some point though.
The beta is running smoothly, very smoothly. In fact, I haven’t participated in a beta this well run in, well, ever. The game feels completely finished and polished so it gives me high hopes for it’s release in September. Yes, September. Three months away. If I’ve got any problem with the beta is that it’s so far away from the final release of the game and I find myself resisting the urge to log in and play it simply because I don’t want to spoil myself so soon. I know, I could’ve waited – should’ve waited – but curiosity got the better of me.
Hard to really conclude anything and I don’t want to give the impression that I’m reviewing the game. I really haven’t played it enough and, if games like Age of Conan and Warhammer Online taught me anything, it’s that longevity is the real stamp of success on a MMORPG. Aion may well turn out to be hugely fun for four weeks and then become utterly boring with absolutely no end game. Still, it’s first impressions are very good and it definitely feels like a grade-A, heavy weight competitor in the MMO market.
So am I going to buy it? Yeah. But I gotta because I ordered it from NCSoft so I could play the beta. So I guess a more telling question would be, “do I regret buying it?”. The answer to that, is no.