Disassembled: A Review In Pieces–Runes of Magic

It’s been a long time since I’ve done an MMO Review in Pieces. If you weren’t around back in March when I last did one, the idea of Disassembled is that I take an MMO, in this case Runes of Magic, and I review it 5 or 10 levels at a time.

This one is going to be kind of unique in that I am going to review levels 1-10, and then levels 1-10 AGAIN and then twice more! You can thank the dual class system in Runes of Magic, as well as the Elven starting area, for this. Without further ado, the review:

RoMTin

Tin Ore? Looks more like Hellfire Ore…

Let’s start with the character creation, the first real thing anyone see’s in an MMO.  There is a decent variety of options, including size sliders for everything from your head to your feet. The hair and faces range the gamit from somewhat realistic looking to anime style. The number of hair and face options is impressive, especially when compared to a game like World of Warcraft. Sadly picking a face also chooses the facial hair. I would have preferred this be a separate option as some of the facial hair is really good looking, if it wasn’t attached to the rest of the face. The Elves in general are more anime looking, especially their wild hairstyles.

CharacterCreation

There are eight classes in Runes of Magic, 4 available to both races. Each race gets two unique classes. For the Humans that means the Priest and Knight class. The Elves get Warden and Druid. The four classes available to all are the Warrior, Scout, Rogue and Mage. The classes all control a bit differently, having your typical melee dps, ranged dps, tanks and healers. Luckily, at least low level, every class is capable of putting out enough damage to solo efficiently.

Once you get past the character creation you’ll be transported to one of two starting zones, depending on which race you chose. The human zone is a nice forested area that reminded me of Elwynn Forest at first. The elves are on their own island, specifically in the Valley of Preparation. Within the first second or so of loading into the game it will ask you if you want to complete the tutorial. I highly recommend it. It doesn’t do a great job of teaching you the intricacies of the game, but it gives you a quick rundown of the controls and them rewards you with some pretty helpful stuff for your first character.

Once you complete this quick tutorial it will transport you back to your starting area and the real game can begin. You’ll be happy to hear that the game is quest centric, so unless you really want to, you won’t have to grind for your XP. At least not without a quest involved. The downside is that, in the human area, the quests are pretty mundane. You aren’t saving the world yet, but you are helping old ladies and cripples get what they need. On the Elven side of things you are force fed the history of the Elves, and it actually is more enjoyable that way. Of course the Elven race was created later, being introduced in the games first free expansion “The Elven Prophecy”.

When the game came out I remember most people dismissing it as a WoW clone, both in graphic style and in gameplay. I simply disagree. The graphic style is somewhat cartoony and designed, like WoW, to not require an amazing computer to run. That said I think the art style borrows more from games like Guild Wars and Lineage II than World of Warcraft. I can’t speak for the gameplay yet, as most MMOs are similar in control and I wouldn’t call that cloning. One thing they DID clone completely is the UI. You have your character portrait and stats in the top left, circular minimap with buttons in the top right, action bar on the bottom and chat window in the bottom left. While that is a little bit of a let down it’s not a terrible thing. WoW’s UI is amazing for an MMO and it’s not surprising most games that have come out afterward have copied it.

The sound design is pretty impressive. The background music is very enjoyable and it makes me feel like I’m watching an epic movie. It’s not always a perfect fit for the scene, but it’s still a treat to hear. The combat sounds range from acceptable for the melee combat to pretty impressive sounding for the magic wielders. The Mages electric attacks are particularly impressive sounding. The rest of the sound effects are acceptable but they don’t particularly stand out.

Equipment works the same as most MMOs these days, with color determining how good the gear is. There is nothing particularly unique until you get into the rune system, which doesn’t come into play much in the first ten levels.

One of the more unique aspects of Runes of Magic is the crafting system. First of all you can learn all of the crafting and gathering professions and train them up to the beginning of the second tier. At which point you will need to pick which professions you want to continue with. At level 10 that still hasn’t come into play, so I am able to try all of the different professions and decide which one is for me. It also takes two gathering professions to supply the crafting professions, such as herbalism and woodcutting to supply tailoring.

Those who have played Champions Online will recognize the items that appear sometimes when you kill enemies. It may be a shield icon, or a book. When you walk over the object it will give you a short term buff that can be pretty nice, such as increased health, or increased Talent Point or XP generation.

RoMDropPotion

Speaking of Talent Points, they don’t work like they do in WoW. Instead, as you complete quests or level you’ll receive hundreds of TP (Talent Points). You will also receive some when you kill mobs. For each character level you gain you can spend TP to level up your spells. While at first you can level up everything, as you level you will eventually need to start specializing once you obtain more and more abilities to spend TP on.

Lastly, I will briefly mention the dual class system.  At level 10 you can decide which secondary class you would like, and much like Final Fantasy XI you will only gain levels on your active class. So when you first get your second class you will need to go back to the starting area, which isn’t very far, and level your second class up from 1. This didn’t seem to take nearly as long, and there were plenty of quests so I didn’t have to grind at all. You also gain some stats and spells from your other class, which can be really nice. For instance the Mage class uses mana to cast spells. When dual classing you could perhaps do like I did and choose a Priest as the second class, to increase your caster talents and give you some heals, or you could pick something like a Scout. The Scout uses energy to shoot arrows, so if you run low on mana you can use your Scout abilities to finish off the mob, or vice versa.

I’m not sure how this will work out yet, but I will let you know in the second review of Runes of Magic, levels 10-20, coming soon.

Treant

Rating for levels 1-10:

Gameplay: 6.0 out of 10. The game is fun, but at this level the only thing that separates the gameplay from other games in the genre is the buff drops, and those happen so rarely that it doesn’t help distinguish it much.

Graphics: 7.9 out of 10. The graphics are aging a little bit now, but the texture work is still pretty impressive in some areas. I even enjoy the look of RoM more than that of WoW in many cases. Sadly it seems to suffer from “PS2 Lighting”. The lighting seems flat, like it’s constantly dusk. Still, the textures are better than EQII, which isn’t very hard to do.

Sound: 8.5 out of 10. Sure the music may be out of place sometimes, but I want to buy the soundtrack. Between that and the sound of the Mages spells I really enjoyed the sound work for Runes of Magic.

Unique: 2.5 out of 10. I can see things changing as I get higher in level, but at the moment I don’t see much that separates it from most other MMOs on the market, including the now free to play LOTRO. Still, the inclusion of tried and true MMO tropes, but with a unique combination, makes the game pretty enjoyable. Enough to keep me playing.

Overall: 24.9 out of 40. Not bad but not the best game out there. Still, for free, the game is truly enjoyable and it’s a shame more people haven’t given it a serious try.

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