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Aion: The Rebirth of MMOs in NA?

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Over the last few years, it seems the MMO genre has become some what stagnant in North America. New MMOs from major companies are few and far between. The ones that do emerge are usually rushed to the point that they are largely unplayable due to bugs, lack of localization, or the developers lack of content/events to keep people interested.

World of Warcraft seemed to be the only thing that the majority of the populace would get behind. It provided the capability for any gamer to easily pick it up, and get involved in Blizzard's world. However, after years upon years, the game is beginning to show its age. From the almost cartoon-like graphics, to the sheer repetition of the quests and raids, the game is beginning to get a simple "Meh" from the newer gamers, and a resounding "I'm bored" from the more hardcore.

Lets take a look at the two major of these recent "flops." I call them that, not because they suck, but because they have not been able to capture the audience attention for an extended period of time. Note: These opinions are based upon how the game performed at launch, not since various updates, as this is about comparing a group of games that are in launch phase.

1) Warhammer Online:  Warhammer originally was to offer a deep storyline based upon the novels and other games, fun player-vs-player gameplay, and beautiful graphics. It was to provide one of the best seiging systems ever to exist in any game. However, it came up a bit short. The game at launch was little more than a big ball of bugs covered in a grungy coating of blah, so to speak. Few people played past the 14 day trial, and even fewer after the first month.

2) Age of Conan: AoC was to offer a deep combat system which allowed for more of an involved feeling. They claimed their world would be one of the most dynamic in the industry, and provide years of fun to everyone. However, like WAR, it was a buggy mess at launch in which few people could enjoy.

Now, its time for us all to sit back and think to ourselves, "Hey, when will a good game come along that we can pick up at launch and genuinely have a ton of fun with?"

Here's your anser: Aion. Now, I'm not saying that the game is perfect, but it is a really good game. I took the time to play during CN OB and was able to get a great feel for how the game would perform.

Aion provides cutting-edge graphics supplied by the CryEngine for those who would love to stand atop a mountain in shining armor, gazing across the world as the sun sets in front of them, and actually feel that you are there instead of looking at a comic book. The graphics are so clean and smooth that you actually feel like you're there. The world is covered in a plethora of environments. From snow covered fields to volcanic plains, you will feel like the world is more than just the same old rehashed areas due to the beautiful artwork and rendering.

The combat system in Aion provides a blend of the tried-and-true "stand and whack" formula and a deep combo system which allows for a feeling of fast-paced action. The aerial combat system gives the freedom to take a battle to the skies seamlessly, allowing for epic battles over battle-ravaged cities in the Abyss.

The musical score is gorgeous. As an Elyos, you are greeted with soft classical music to emphasize the beauty of the world around you. As an Asmodian, you are greeted with a score of a mix of classical and metal to show the strife and pain of the world you inhabit.

Player versus player combat is not confined to a single area, nor confined to duels. At Lv.20, you are able to find dimensional rifts to jump to an area where the opposing faction thrives. At 25, PvP is taken to a whole other level. You're can go to the Abyss and fight against the opposing faction in a more grand scale. It also provides a twist, by throwing in a third faction, the Balaur. These draconic beasts fight against both sides in a constant struggle to control the entirety of the Abyss. From time to time though, they do choose to fight for one faction or another, to improve their odds of capturing various key points.

The mission system of Aion allows you to experience the struggle of your faction to survive and overcome the obstacles ahead of them. From beasts ravaging the countryside, to intelligent humanoids attempting to destroy what little peace the world has in it, you will always have something to do, and more lore to learn of.

The crafting system is a very smooth system to become adjusted to. You simply pay a small fee to learn the basics of your profession, and you're on your way. With other games, in order to increase your skills, you would have to pay for all manner of materials just to get a measly 0.1 skill-up. Aion provides you with Work Order quests. These quests provide you with the primary materials required to skill-up, and they are repeatable as many times as you need them. You will usually only need to purchase one or two items to start working. The quests allow for quick leveling at an almost neglible cost, and you are rewarded with crafting materials to ease the costs of creating items and equipment that you will need.

In conclusion, it is my opinion that Aion is the next big thing. At first, I was a bit sketchy about it, due to the amount of hype that was being thrown around. After I got my hands on it, I began to understand why this game had such a devoted following.

If you haven't yet, give it a shot if you're in China. If not, do like I am, and sit at your computer drooling while waiting for NA/EU release.