Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

MMObility: A first look at Conquer Online for the iPad and a giveaway


Over the last few weeks, I've been checking out Conquer Online for the iPad. I don't really have anything to compare the game to because I never played the full PC version, but the mobile version I played felt a lot like a "real" full MMO. I logged in, made a character, and ran around the lands doing quests and leveling, just like in a normal client-based game. This should not be that surprising at this point in the world of mobile development. There have been several "real" MMOs made for the iPad and other devices. Celtic Heroes has been trying to achieve that classic look for a while now and has come pretty darn close. There's World of Midgard as well, made by the same developers who are releasing the cross-platform Lords at War very soon.

I was told that Conquer Online should feel a bit like Ultima Online on the iPad, but I'm not sure about that. Yes, it features the isometric view that we are all so familiar with in UO, but I don't think the comparison holds up beyond that.

Click past the cut and I'll break it down for you. Also, if you would like to receive a free super item pack for the game, you'll find it at the end of the article!

Conquer Online screenshot
One of the best details about Conquer Online for the iPad is the way it controls. It's easy to move your character around and attack creatures simply by touching the screen. Quests feature keyword links that lead you directly to the object or creature you are seeking. Once you arrive, you defeat the monsters and a pop-up will tell you when you are done. Click the button in that pop-up and you will be led back to town or to the NPC needed for completion. It's all very handy -- but sometimes too handy. I am a fan of optional auto-walk features or shortcuts in gameplay. As long as they are a choice and not forced upon a player, they offer help to those who are lost, not able to physically play the game for long, or short on time.

"Yes, you can stop yourself and walk back to town by touching on the screen, but even that gets old since your hands are often in the way of the screen while traveling."

Conquer Online doesn't seem to give you much of a choice in the matter unless you know to stop the process. Essentially you are pushed back toward town automatically when you accept that the quest is over. Yes, you can stop yourself and walk back to town by touching on the screen, but even that gets old since your hands are often in the way of the screen while traveling. I'd like to see a classic d-pad or other control option along with the auto-walk features. The iPad 2 is definitely light enough to hold with two hands as you play, or you can simply prop the device up and go on with the business of killing and questing. Perhaps the developers will add new control options on later. I sure hope so.

Graphically, the game is good enough. It's dated and pretty bland most of the time, but the bright screen of the iPad and the controls smooth over the rough spots. There are no animations other than the mobs and characters on the screen, and running is accompanied by a constant clomping sound that is annoying. The rest of the sounds in the game are adequate, and occasionally I was privileged to hear a bit of music, but other than that the game's soundscape is bare.

Quests are, for the most part, of the kill-ten-rats variety. Monsters are rarely a challenge, although it is easy to become swamped by more than one and be forced to run away! Run away! I played a ranged character; it was pretty fun to stand back and pick off mobs that would normally pull in groups. My combat was pretty standard, though, and was automated for me even though I had to buy stacks of arrows for ammo. For the life of me I could not find my "skills" window until later, so I was stuck with some kind of default attack. I tried to find an NPC who might teach me something new to use during combat, but I gave up after a fruitless search. Knowing me, the guy was standing right under my nose or I was simply not opening the correct window. I had a hotbar that was just waiting for skills to be dropped into it, but as of hitting level 31 with a "battle power" level of 40 (whatever that means), I still have only one basic attack along with one called Scatter. I tried it on different mobs; it seems to do nothing.

Conquer Online screenshot
If Conquer Online were anything like Ultima Online, I would have myriad skills to train up and practice. From what I can tell, the skills in this game are probably learned automatically as you level, and they are likely a limited batch. Either way, I didn't see any quest that showed me where to go or how to learn better skills. It was disappointing and rather boring to hit level after level without ever learning anything new.

Frankly, the game feels like a classic from the mostly long-gone era of foreign grinders that were the cause of old stereotypes. Some of the best-looking and most immersive games in the world now come from foreign lands, so to see a game that resembles a relic from seven years ago is a bit depressing. Boredom set in when I realized that I have played equivalent games many times before and was not eager for a trip to the past. And I suspect many bugs were brought out in the transition to the iPad. For example, players can choose whether they want to run or jump around the environment by hitting a button next to the minimap, but sometimes the jump button is picked by default and I found myself having to switch back. It's an annoyance mostly, but it still needs to be fixed. The game locks up often, as well, and needed to be forced to close.

I could completely see Conquer Online becoming a fun game to play. Yes, the fact that you play it on the iPad does add "fun points" simply because the device is such a pleasure to use. Fixing bugs and adding on other forms of control would definitely bring the fun up a notch. If you enjoy grinding and quick leveling, then check the game out.

I also have some codes for some Super Item Packs that include upgrade packs, lots of equipment, a riding crop and tons more! Simply go to our giveaway page, snag a code, and redeem it here. That will help get you started on the right foot! Enjoy!

Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr