Review: Aion

A while back I did a preview article on Aion, the next MMO with potential, and today I bring you the review of this massively multi-player online game. It has been a month since I received my copy of Aion, and I have been adventuring through the lands of Atreia since. Granted, most of that month was spent creating the perfect woman in the character creation screen, and this brings us to the first topic.

The character creation, as we had expected before release, was detailed to say the least. The amount of options available here are overwhelming, and if you have the time, you can basically recreate yourself or any famous celebrity. You will find options such as, how full the lips should be, how far apart the eyes are set, customisation of eyebrows, and much much more. Unfortunately for me, there was no option to lower my standards in women.

After the gruelling challenge of character creation and choosing the side you wish to play on; you are thrown into the starting area. The first major aspect of the game to hit you, is the absolutely stunning graphics. As MMO graphics go, this is right up there with Age of Conan when it comes to visuals, but unlike the later, it does not eat away at your hardware. Using the CryEngine, it runs smooth on minimal PC hardware specifications. Characters are highly detailed and you will find yourself visually immersed in the environments. Although, not to put a sour point on the graphics; I did find at times, there were certain textures that appeared to be of lower quality in comparison to others, and this really made them stick out.

Visually, the spell casting looks amazing and the game engine is robust, allowing for many effects, but the same cannot be said about character animation. This is not to say that it is bad, but it can feel slightly edgy and not fluent. It would have been nice to see various character animations for the one action to assist in breaking up the monotony.

On the topic of monotony, many have heard that this game requires a fair amount of grinding in comparison to other MMOs. While this can be true and grinding is unavoidable as with any MMO; it feels that Aion has more grinding required for leveling than others. This is not due to a lack of quests, but more so on your playing style. Personally I find that I can, at times, rush through areas and get myself stuck in-between areas for experience to level, and therefore forced to grind. Another reason to grind would be for currency, known as ‘Kinah’. You will soon find that everything costs ‘Kinah’ in this game, and you will be needing it. It is not unheard of to run out of ‘Kinah’ and become stuck in the city you are in, as teleporting to different zones costs ‘Kinah’. In the end, no matter what your playing style is, Aion will require a substantial about of grinding, and this of course leads to farming bots and gold spamming, but lets leave that subject till the end.

Character types appear to be fairly balanced and the game is polished, especially considering its infancy. No major bugs can be found. Only days after it had been released, update patches have been very minimal. Questing is great, and players of other MMO’s will feel comfortable – none of those epic journeys from one side of the world to the other for a quest that gives a meagre amount of experience. Not naming names here but you know who you are.

Up until level 10, the game is quite similar to its competitors, but once you achieve level 10 you will break out of your cocoon and fly away with your wings. What Aion has done to stand out from the crowd is incorporate flight into the gameplay, and not just as a means of travel. Different zones will allow flight and others will not, but you will soon learn the addictive feature that has been included, and that is gliding. Jumping off cliffs and using directional keys to balance your glide can be used in non flight zones. A slight annoyance with flight though, is attacking mobs on the ground with a range class, it makes sense but it can still be slightly unpredictable; mobs will suddenly disengage and return to full health. Where this really gets annoying is attempting to kite a mob with range. You will attack while back pedalling up hill so you can then jump and glide around to the other side of the mob. Only then you will find out that your target has disengaged and returned to full health, most of time this glide technique will work, but occasionally the target disengages and can cause minor annoyance.

Once you reach level 25 you better hope that you have mastered attacking while in flight as this is when the real action starts. PVP (Player versus Player) is introduced and you will be thrown into chaotic air battles against your rival race. Again, Aion have brought an original concept to the game by integrating PVP with PVE (Player versus Environment / Enemy). You and your team mates will be in an intense PVP battle when suddenly a boss mob will appear, to purposely cause absolute dismay to the battleground. This is great fun and actually works quite well. Items can be dropped from any mob and you have chances to get legendary item drops from just normal mobs as well – if you are lucky.

Professions are easy to level as NPCs provide repeatable quests in order to level your professions, and everyone can obtain all mats needed for all professions. In other words, you do not need to be a miner to mine minerals. But as always, these can be time consuming and long winded.

The last section we look at is sound. I found myself turning off the music soundtrack quite early on in the game as you will continue to hear the same tune when engaging in battle. After further playing you may find your ears bleeding from random loud sounds when you, for example, score a critical strike. Thankfully the options allow you to change volume level for individual areas of the game (interface sounds, combat sounds, etc.) In general, the sound quality was very average and I was left disappointed by the music.

To sum up, the game is fun and definitely worth a play. This refined release is exceptional and you can play with no frustrations of bugs. However, your frustrations will soon emerge when you find the game plagued with farming bots and gold spammers. Unfortunately game moderators appear to be extinct in the world of Aion and an abundance of the ‘up to no good’ are ever present. The ‘looking for group’ channel is basically useless, as it scrolls at light speed you will catch glimpses of legitimate messages. If these issues are left to continue, it will not be long for the game to suffer from an inflation in economy, and in turn make the game unplayable for the genuine player. Aion is a welcome change for MMO lovers but it is not for weak. The game is far more challenging than others, and theoretically it is possible for a player to almost level to only find they are back at the start.. That’s right – death penalises level experience.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

About the Author

Nightshadow is an avid PC gamer, but occasionally strays off to the Xbox360 for some console action. Frequent writer for Gameolio - he has a strange obsession for uniquely flavored soft drinks such as Cherry Coke, Passion Fruit, and Buzz Monkey. Currently Playing: - Mafia II - Age of Conan - Red Dead Redemption