For the past week or so I’ve been on the lookout for a decent MMORPG, having ditched Fiesta due to the usual grind –> grind –> grind —> then pay cycle that affects almost all free-to-play MMORPGs.
Precisely a week back I stumbled into Shin Megami Tensei – Imagine Online. For those who don’t know, it’s a Japanese MMORPG by Cave and Atlus, both of them studios that know they’re business. It’s abbreviated as Megaten.
Right, so what’s the deal here? Basics: From my viewpoint, Megaten is an MMORPG almost totally different from the crap Korean Free-to-play shit that’s flooding the market. It’s a true MMO-”RPG“. For one, there IS a story, albeit a moderately confusing one in true Japanese fashion. Basically, it’s in the slightly distant future, in the aftermath of a war between humans and demons. Post apocalyptic, a step away from the anime fantasy standards of MMOs.
For another thing: you can fight demons. Or you can talk to them, convince them to join you, and summon them. Even better: you can fuse them together to form entirely new ones. There are intelligent demons, who you can talk to: stupid ones, who you should just pound; and moderate ones, who you should be able to taunt into submission.
Well, yes, it’s Pokemon-esque. And the combat is unique; unlike point-and-click combat, this focuses on stringing combos together and sending your opponents flying. You’re also given melee, magic and guns and it’s entirely up to you what you want to be. The combat is simply SUPERB. It’s less about numbers than about skill. Plus, your demon also fights!
Almost entirely out of the standard MMORPG dish, innit? True. SMT’s gameplay is fantastic. Bosses spawn occasionally, giant-sized versions of the cannon-fodder you’ve been pounding: time to run. Plasma orbs are scattered across the landscape: you can collect and stuff you get from them.
But SMT has a reason for not becoming as popular as Fiesta: the game’s not accessible enough.
1) the downloader is utter crap, relying on a P2P network of some sort, and it downloads @ 15 kbps when all others run at 100-120 kbps.
2) The update client is also crap. It took me three days to get SMT up and running. Strike off another 300 users who aren’t as patient as me.
3) The game retains RPG roots, where you have to dicover everything for yourself. A truly wonderful addition for hardcore RPG lovers like us. People expect NPCs to be highlighted. People expect hints. SMT gives you nothing; I discovered the combat tutorial almost too late.
4) The MAP is utter crap. As is the interface, and the control scheme is flat-out stupid.
5) It’s all too gray. Post-apocalyptic, yes, but a nicer palette always helps.
All in all, SMT is a superb game, one that I might actually stick with.It’s cool discovering that almost-hidden path in the terrain and narrowly missing being pounded to a pulp by a giant Kodama. It’s cool to discover an awesome demon and capture it after ages in the field. It’s cool to fuse demons and build up a new one and unleash it on a field of unsuspecting enemies.
It just could be a LOT cooler.
Btw: In-game, I’m Aft3RSHOCK.
- Skyrim: Everything A MMORPG Should Be (weflyspitfires.com)
- A Little Browser Mmorpg Basic Knowledge (nobodyvexen.wordpress.com)
- Neverwinter was ‘almost ready to ship’ before F2P MMO retooling (massively.joystiq.com)
- Headshot! (tobolds.blogspot.com)
- Skyrim Online (tobolds.blogspot.com)