Tortage: Jewel of the Barachan Isles
The 14 day re-evaluation that Funcom has granted all old players has given me an opportunity to go back and revisit Age of Conan. I haven’t been playing it excessively over the past few days, I’ve just dabbling around with a new character on a roleplaying server, enjoying one of my favourite areas of any MMORPG ever, Tortage (pronounced Tor-ta-ge with a strong French accent in case anyone was uncertain).
The draw of the Jewel of the Barachan Isles was so great that I passed up the opportunity to start a pre-made level 50 character. I suppose that’s either another testament to how good an experience Tortage is or just how poor the rest of the game is. I love melee classes and, seeing how AoC is particularly focused on them, I decided to roll a Guardian. Not just any Guardian mind, but one of my usual fat, old, bald men. And hot damn, does that man look sexy in DX10. The way the sweat glistens of his bald head is infatuating and the way his plump love handles jiggle when he runs is downright hypnotic.
But it’s not just the graphics that I’m enjoying again with Conan, it’s also the combat. Fast, furious and bloody as hell it’s so refreshing after a long stint on World of Warcraft. Even though I’ve seen it dozens of times, I still get a shock of sick pleasure out of seeing my avatar lop my enemies head clean off.
Of course, Tortage would be nothing without the other major elements that comprise it: an interesting storyline, an immersive and original setting, breathtaking scenery and environments, beautiful music and well spoken dialouge, and an excellent mix of solo gameplay and group areas and dungeons. It’s a perfectly crafted blend of all the factors that make MMORPGs great. Want to progress your own personal story? No problem, the night awaits. Want to adventure with your friends into a dungeon? There’s that too. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Funcom spent just as long on Tortage as they did on the rest of the game combined.
As much as I’m enjoying Tortage again though, I haven’t made my mind up if I’ll be returning to Hyboria full time once my free period ends. I still have a huge number of issues with the game that don’t appear to be rectified yet (or may never be as they are too intrinsic to the core gameplay) and I’m not convinced it has the depth I need. An expansion will definitely be helpful for AoC and I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.
So while it may not be perfect, and it may not be our long lost love, at least we will always be able to look back upon the the sultry temptress that is Age of Conan and remember that at least we had (cue heavy French accent)… Tortage!