It's unfortunate when my normal Rise and Shiny decision-making process bites me in the butt. I generally try to find games semi-randomly, but there really is no random choice for a guy who is pretty aware of almost any title coming out in the U.S., like I am. When I saw Warriors Saga splashed across the front page of Massively, I decided to take a chance and Rise and Shiny the heck out of it.
Well, nearly a week later and several hours into the game, I can tell you that there is so much that still needs to be done to the title that it is almost not fair to give you my first impressions. But alas, I have the super-seriously tough job of playing games for a living, so click past the cut and I'll tell you all about it.
First of all I'd like to describe how my typical process goes for Rise and Shiny. I pick out a game, either download it or load it in my browser, make a character, and jump in. Now, at this point in the process (or very shortly after), I can tell whether or not the following week is going to be really, really long and boring or just fly by. I do have to keep in mind, however, that I have seen almost all of what MMO gaming has to offer, and this makes me particularly sensitive to similarities between titles. I can easily mistake these similarities for a downturn of ingenuity in the marketplace, or I can understand that my full exposure to so many games makes it seem like nothing is surprising anymore.
Still, I do have the ability to recognize patterns in development. Warriors Saga comes from a semi-newer batch of browser-based, Flash-based MMOs that want nothing more but to get you in-game and get you going. They often come from faraway lands (I will not say "Asian," simply because that can imply any number of places) and seem to favor turn-based combat. They also love to pepper your introductory levels of the game with obvious arrows or highlighted areas that serve to show you the next step in the gaming process.
You just stepped in game? Click this arrow to open your quest guide. Click this next arrow to highlight the present quest. Click this highlighted name and you will auto-walk to the NPC you need to kill. After killing 10 of those monsters with turn-based precision (combat can be put on auto as well), you click the name of another NPC and voila! You will be standing next to him or her within seconds. Congratulations, you just leveled, so click this giant yellow arrow and it will open your skills window. Click this highlighted button and the game will automatically put skill points into the best possible area of growth. Click accept. Rinse, repeat.
I am not exaggerating when I say I was able to achieve level after level without ever reading a single piece of text. I literally just clicked on the highlighted areas or arrows and everything was done for me. I sailed through levels so fast that I thought I might run into a real content wall early in the week and not be able to carry on. Unfortunately, there was a seemingly endless torrent of content to click through.
It's not as though reading the highlighted quest text would do me any good. The translations and localization attempts were so poor that I literally had no idea what some of them meant. "Click the down right skill shortcut to quick back school." What. The. Heck? I gave up on trying to understand half of what this game was trying to tell me. I began to dread my time with it. I started to complain to my dogs about how hard my life was. I started to think of starting some kind of protest against shoddy localization and crappy gameplay.
Now, don't get me wrong, please. I fully understand localization and how intense the process can be. I've talked to developers about their four or five step processes and about how the change of languages can increase text size or wording, which then affects art assets. I get it: Localization is hard. I am also fine with auto-walking and highlighting buttons and giving clues for newbies to follow. I am so down with that type of thing. The problem comes when your gameplay is so generic that I am not interested enough in it to even bother trying to play without everything on autopilot. If this were not a game I was being paid to write about, I would have ditched it in about 20 minutes.
So sure, if you need a game to pass the time and feel like reading through the half-busted quest text, go for it. The art is nice in the game. In fact, the art is lovely and hand-drawn and wonderful. It usually is in almost every import I have come across (it's the Western games that can be consistently butt-ugly.) But nice art does not save the game from being uninteresting and as generic as a high school yearbook portrait.
If you need a better browser game, there are scores of them to choose from. I still believe browser-based gaming is the next thing. Titles like Warriors Saga aren't helping the process at all, but I have come across more good than bad. Just skip this one and meet me here next week.
Speaking of next week, I decided I need some recoup time from this last boring experience and am going to look at the newbie areas of Ultima Online. Once in a while I like to dive into a classic and see what's up. I played as recently as this year, having fun running around with my original character from '99. This time around I am going to see what being a newbie is like. I am on the Great Lakes server and my character's name is Beauhindman. Join me in game!
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 and Facebook!