This week is Aion's launch week and I do believe that I need to put my thoughts down on the game, like so many other journalists are doing this week. Now, please, even before we start, I need to make it clear that this isn't a review. This is my collected thoughts about the game as I've played it through closed beta, open beta, the head start, and now the live game. I've made alts on all of the classes, I've gotten past level 10 as the templar, I've done grouping, and I'm actually going to continue playing after this column is done. I delayed these thoughts because I wanted to make sure I was confident in what I was about to say.
So what are my collected thoughts on the game? Well let's start off with the good, and go on to the bad, and then finally hit our synopsis. Hit continue reading, because I can assure you that this is going to be daevafinitely interesting. (And, most likely, full of bad, bad Aion puns.)
Aion soars and takes polish to new heights
This game is solid. Period. If games could be graded on polish and polish alone, then Aion is one of the most polished games I've come across in a while. Right from the get go, the UI is slick, the controls are (mostly) intuitive, the skills and stats make sense, and everything seems to come together nicely. There's no glaring bugs for all of the starting content for both the Asmodian and Elyos sides, the positioning of the quests is well done (except that farm on the Elyos side, that's a bit out of reach there) and the game feels right, in this respect.
This is, of course, due to the fact that Aion has had a year to work all of these problems out in Korea, and the fact that NCsoft's localization teams have been so absolutely thorough with the game. Well done to both teams in this regard, as their hard work sparkles brightly in Aion. And, speaking of sparkling brightly...
Holy damn that's some nice environments there
Yes, the game is pretty. We've been over that way too many times to count. Plus, even for being pretty, the game runs on a huge range of systems. The team has made sure that almost everyone who wants to play Aion can play Aion. That's a technical feat in and of itself.
There are even some great little touches, like how characters shield themselves from the rain when a storm roars overhead, the way their faces and bodies are illuminated directionally by the lightning strikes, and even the ways the character's facial expressions are made during completely mundane tasks. There are some very exact and exquisite details worked into the game, and those too deserve some accolades for the work that went into them.
Even the writing is good
Who does that? I mean, really, who actually cares to put in a few pages of text to get to a single quest? Who cares about character evolution and dialogue? Apparently the Aion team did, because the lore is pretty solid. You've got a world divided (literally), races outside of the humans/daeva who are vying for their own type of dominance, a pretty neat rationale for a huge PvP zone, and you can still get down on a lower level and see what's going on for yourself.
Now, the campaign quests, AKA the main storyline, might get a bit old after a while because they're never going to change, but that could be said about any quest in any game. What I will say, however, is that Aion is a little linear. You'll be doing the same quests time and time again, and I even mean the quests outside of the main storyline. However, I don't take back my well wishes -- the writing is good.
So where does Aion go wrong, if I just spent an entire page spouting praise for it?