You can't win them all, as they say. I suppose that has to be true in any field or occupation. I try to find the coolest indie, free-to-play and odd little games to show you guys in this column, but of course I don't always play them ahead of time (I haven't played every single game in existence yet), so I might wind up with a dud occasionally. I try to give them a fair chance, though, and will play them as long as they let me.
Unless, of course, a game fights me almost every step of the way. If there is one person who is understanding and who will give a fair chance to pretty much any game on Earth, I'm the one. I will forgive glitches and mistakes in smaller or lesser-known games because I have to. If I had some of the standards of some of our readers and writers, I would only be talking to you about RIFT and Lord of the Rings Online. There's nothing wrong with that, but I think it's safe to say that even broken games like 2029 Online deserve a chance.
So I gave it one. Heck, I gave it several. Click past the cut and I'll tell you all about it.
2029 Online, by IGG, is just a hot mess. I am not quite sure what that means, but my wife uses the term occasionally and I have always pictured a steaming pile of... well, you get the picture. If a hot mess is bad, then 2029 Online is it. I just felt silly when playing it, for many reasons. If there is one thing that a 36-year-old man does not want to feel when doing his job, it's silly. I already get bombarded with cartoon monkeys, Anime laser-eyes, and giant dragons. Why would I want to subject myself to busted quest text, broken auto-paths, and a "bot" system that works only half of the time?
Let's talk first about that text. Look, it is no secret that games that come from a different country than ours might have some mistakes in their translations. I get that, really I do. And I forgive it most of the time if it seems like the developers just made a mistake or if the game is good enough for me to overlook it. Heck, a lot of the time I pretend as though it is just part of the local alien vernacular -- why not? There is a difference between seeing a few mistranslated words (while still understanding what the NPC or story is asking for) and seeing text that just makes no sense. Odd combinations of words paired with busted, clickable links for auto-pathing really make it worse. Too many times I clicked on a link in a quest only to be walked to NPCs named something completely different from the ones I needed. This isn't a problem when the NPC describes to you where to go or gives you a marker on your map, but 2029 Online often left me standing there with nothing but the wrong mobs to kill.
Of course I could always rely on the botting, or "power-leveling" system, built into the game, right? That was true in most cases, but that didn't make it more fun to play overall. Basically, you can click on an auto-path in the quest text, and if it so happens to work and brings you to the correct mob, you can simply hit ctrl-Z and away your little guy or girl goes, attacking everything in sight! I found this particularly rewarding when I had to use the restroom or do some dishes, but it didn't really seem to have a point. Now, now -- I know what many of you might be thinking. I understand that many players will have some kind of moral issue with a game that allows you to AFK-play, as though that were one of the factors leading to the dumbing-down of MMOs today!
Well, that's not true in so many ways. First, built-in systems like the one in 2029 Online are pretty common -- not terribly common, but other games do have them. Second, an automated attack is just an auto-attack. We all have used an auto-attack haven't we? If you consider many MUDs and other MMOs that are more of a simulation rather than a realstic trip through 3-D environments, then we have been "automatically" fighting for a long, long time. Let's not split hairs here -- many of the most successful and largest MMOs out there are essentially running all of the math behind the scenes, automatically, while we simply push a few buttons. High horse, be gone!
"In 2029 Online it felt more like the developers put it in to feed the level-hungry player, the power-mad power-gamer who wants nothing but the best weapons and bragging rights in the game."
So while I have nothing at all against a game that allows players to use automated systems to level up with, I prefer to avoid those games like the plague. I can't stand the use of them but have no issue with them, especially for someone who might need the help, physically. In 2029 Online it felt more like the developers put it in to feed the level-hungry player, the power-mad power-gamer who wants nothing but the best weapons and bragging rights in the game. I have come across way, way too many of those players in my time as a gamer, and our playstyles just do not mesh. (By the way, they come in all ages.)
At this point I guess I should tell you about the setting of the game and the choice of races. You can play three different races, and it's set some time in the future in a place that looks like StarCraft. StarCraft Planet, we'll call it. The website mentions an "RTS" several times, but not once did I get an RTS-feeling from this game. At some point in the future, will I control miniature armies? Who knows -- I haven't gotten to so far. There are some cool vehicles in the game, this much I know, but I am not sure how they work or how one goes about getting one. Again, there was no mention of it. If your game has some sort of important feature like RTS controls or gameplay or really cool vehicles, then why isn't it mentioned to a player early on in his experience?
2029 Online was bad. I didn't like it at all. I didn't want to play it. Heck, the last two sessions, I clicked on the shortcut only to find that the "enter game" button had gone away. Where did it go? I don't know. I tried it on my desktop and my laptop, and it was still gone. The red X in the right-hand corner didn't work, either, so I had to shut it down through the task manager. So I sent hopeful Tweets into the universe, figuring someone had the answer, but everyone was busily playing far superior games that worked.
If you are still interested, check out the official site and sign up. In fact, please do. I want to hear about how I was wrong in my impression of the game and how I missed something. My rigid testing methods (sign up, log in, play) might need to be tweaked.
Next week I am revisiting Atlantica Online. It looks like Nexon has taken it under its wing, so I'm hoping to see some differences compared to my earlier time in the game.
Now, go log in!
Each week, Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play, indie or unusual game, chosen by me, Beau Hindman. I welcome any suggestions for games -- drop me a note in the comments or email! You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Raptr!