When playing an MMORPG, you're essentially waging a war against the mind-numbing effects of repetition. There's no way to avoid it in a genre that's less concerned with immediate interaction than it is with protracted character building and management. The crucial trick in creating a good MMORPG then, is to bury this almost mechanical repetition in enough layers of entertainment and atmosphere to convince you that you're plundering loot from a defeated swamp creature, and not
a polygonal mass of lesser statistics. World of Warcraft
is demonstrably such a game and judging by our brief time spent with it, Funcom's Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures
may be as well. Don't misunderstand -- it's not going to radically change your feelings towards MMORPGs, but it may prompt you to consider getting your hands dirty.
Indeed, getting your hands dirty is arguably one of Age of Conan
's most prominent features. Being based on Robert E. Howard's Conan the Cimmerian
novels (sorry, Arnie fans!) naturally gives the combat a barbaric edge, with the ability to string together attack combos resulting in a greater sense of immediacy and involvement compared to other titles in the genre. It's not quite
an action RPG -- statistics still play a predominant role -- but you are given a variety of physical attack options through a set of on-screen buttons. A smartly executed combo will finish off weakened foes with a fatality animation and a satisfying splatter of blood across the screen.