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Anti-Aliased: Blade & Soul > Aion


All right, now that the inflammatory title that makes you look at my column is out of the way, let's get down to business. This week we got to see a 30-second teaser trailer from the folks at NCsoft about Blade & Soul, a game from NCsoft that has been stealthing in the background, waiting for the right time to strike and jump in front of Aion.

Blade & Soul isn't a brand new game though. In fact, the game's artwork has already made a guest appearance on our website. (With subsequent comments on how that woman's back is going to break in half if she should walk forward.) Plus, if you really want to see what the game has to offer, a quick YouTube search will bring you to the Blade & Soul HD gameplay video which looks, well, simply stunning.

So why am I dedicating my opinion column to a game that's nowhere close to being released? Well, because I think it has potential, and because it's my opinion column. So come along after the break, and let's look at Blade & Soul.

Always appreciated Unreal Engine 3

NCsoft seems big into licensing out other engines that don't normally do MMOs these days. Aion is already running on a modified version of the CryEngine, and Blade & Soul will be running in glorious detail on Unreal Engine 3. This is a bold, yet unsurprising move that shows another focus on graphical quality of the game in order to make sure it appeals to today's gamer.

" I want to see more to combat than my butt and my skill bar."

Unreal Engine 3 really seems to compliment this game's style nicely. Blade & Soul is taking more of a medieval/realistic approach to their environments with a flair of the theatrical. While sure, there are monsters and this is certainly a fantasy world, it's a bit more grounded than something like Aion, where the world is really a fantasy kaleidoscope.

But that's not to say that the game doesn't delve into more fantastic aspects, such as beating up fat lizard men, sprouting metal wings from your back, and having breasts as big as your head. It has all of that, but it's well complimented by the engine.

However, the graphics aren't really what light my fire when it comes to this title. No, it's a few more esoteric things.

Yay, camera angles that aren't your rear!

"If I'm going to be staring at someone's butt all day, it's going to be a woman." Yeah, yeah, we've all made that stupid joke at one point or another. But, that joke points out one of the areas that we never utilize in MMOs -- camera angles.

Very, very few games actually attempt to mix up their camera angles in order to compliment their gameplay. Most of the time it's because MMOs are so focused on real-time, button pushing combat that we don't want our camera flying around all over the place. Doing so could make us lose our target, which is never a good thing in the heat of battle when others are depending on you.

But, if a game was able to slow down combat yet still offer a cinematic experience -- such as Blade & Soul's "beatdown" skills -- we wouldn't have to worry about our camera jumping all over the place. In fact, I'd make a case and say we'd want our camera to move during that point, just so we can see all of the glory of our character laying the smack down on some monster or another player.

In any case, I'm really tired of just seeing what my character wears from the back all the time. I want to see more to combat than my butt and my skill bar. Hopefully, Blade & Soul can deliver on some really cinematic combat.

Would this be innovative? Amazingly enough, it wouldn't be. Say what you want about the ill-fated Matrix Online, but I don't know anyone who could say the combat in that game didn't look amazing in motion. Martial arts battles in MxO really did look great, as characters blocked, punched, grappled, and fought all with the camera zooming and darting around to catch the combat. Which, well, leads me to my third point...

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