Here is a review for the game Anarchy Online done by Erhan Altay Online.
Anarchy Online Review
Released way back in 2001, Anarchy Online is one of the oldest 3D MMORPGs still in service. The game broke new ground as the first Sci-Fi game in the genre, but like all MMORPGs at the time, Anarchy Online required a monthly subscription. Starting in late 2004, Funcom (the publisher) started offering the original game content for free but still required players to pay to access the content in the expansion packs. This means free players can’t pick two of the 14 professions and have a level cap of 200 rather than 220. It’s not really a big disadvantage and if you’re a fan of sci-fi games, Anarchy Online is really one of the only few out there.
There are currently three live servers: two catering to the US and the other to the EU. The character creation process is a real delight, a short cutscene with voice acting introduces players to the Rubi-Ka transfer station where they chose from one of four breeds (races) and one of fourteen professions (classes.) There are few games today with so many available classes but games like Anarchy Online and EverQuest were pulling it off nearly a decade ago! Of course as the number of classes goes up, game balance moves in the opposite direction. Luckily, the difficulty of playing each profession is clearly labeled. The spectrum of play styles is broadly covered – there are several tank, support, caster, damage dealer, and hybrids to chose from. Be sure to take a look at the overview tab, which goes into more detail about each class. Appearance customization is not nearly as in-depth, unfortunately. Players pick from three height options, three weight options, (does anyone really create overweight characters?) and several face styles.
Hurray, Another Tutorial Island!
If you’ve played as many MMORPGs as me, you should be familiar with the concept of the tutorial island. These are special zones where new players are thrown so they don’t get in the way or pester the veterans. The tutorial area in Anarchy Online is mostly open-ended, meaning players can leave without having to complete all the content. This allows those who want to take things slow and learn all there is to know to do so while not holding back more adventurous players. From my experience the starting zone is much easier to navigate and level up in than the main world, at least for the first 7-8 levels. Anarchy Online was developed before the ‘ ! ‘ MMORPG cliche was coined by Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, so it isn’t noticeable which NPCs have missions available. This means you’re better off talking to every NPC you meet when entering a new area. The missions on the tutorial island are all quite simple. The first has you simply target several of the small island creatures nearby, the next has you kill them, and the third asks you to deliver a belt to someone. All three won’t take long and after completing them I suggest you stick around and just grind off some cargo droids for a few levels before leaving for the mainland. The game does a pretty good job explaining the controls and interface, but that won’t help since both are so ancient. The mini-map is next to useless since you have to acquire ‘map packs’ before making sense of it. The rest of the interface just feels old and takes some getting used to for those who haven’t played a game this old before. There is one silver lining to the menus, though, and that is the improvement point distribution screen.
Each level (and there are 200 levels to gain), players receive improvement points to spread among seventy-five different skills. There is a button that automatically places points into suggested skills, but most pros consider this a quick way of ruining your character. There is no rush to spend points, its fine to just let them build up, so if you’re uncertain what weapon you want to specialize in just yet, don’t allocate points. Everyone who really gets into the game should go online and read a detailed guide about their profession, but I’ll try to quickly explain the skill breakdown here. Seventy-five skills may sound daunting at first but the way they are broken down makes them much easier to manage. The first six represent the six attributes: Strength, Stamina, Sense, Agility, Intelligence, and Psychic. The rest are broken into nine categories; body, melee weapons, misc. weapons, ranged, speed, trade & repair, nano & aiding, spying, and navigation. A soldier, for example, who specializes in assault rifles can completely ignore entire categories which makes skill management much easier. Take the time to study the skills and it’ll start making sense to you.
Blast From The Past
Anarchy Online’s greatest fault is aged graphic engine and sound effects. Players do have the option of playing in either first person or third person, but either way the graphics look boxy and pixelated. The monster designs are quite pathetic, you’ll be fighting small creatures or indistinct droids for many levels. In terms of music, there is some odd background noise punctuated by weird sound effects when you fire a gun or are attacked by a critter. The best way to describe the whole presentation is outdated. Even fans of the game would be hard-pressed to claim the music and visuals as a plus. As mentioned earlier, the interface is similarly crude. When looting corpses I really had no idea what the items were supposed to be. However, even with its poor packaging, Anarchy Online manages to offer more content and features than many recent MMORPGs.
It’s Time to Organize
Organizations, commonly known as guilds in other games, can be organized in a variety of ways. The creator can choose between six governing systems: Department, Faction, Republic, Monarchy, Anarchism, or Feudalism. Additionally, organizations can purchase plots in mainland cities and construct buildings which can be used to hold meetings, conduct business, or serve as entry points to large scale PvP events. Open world PvP is handled in a creative fashion; all zones have a different percentage of ‘suppression gas’ active. Areas with 100% suppression gas allow no PvP, 75% allows dueling and fighting among those who are PvP flagged. 25% suppression gas is open PvP among players within their level range while 0% is unrestricted open PvP. You have to hand it to Anarchy Online for creative wording, not only with the PvP levels but also with terms ‘nano’ for magic & ‘genetic manipulators’ for GMs. The end-game content consists of mostly of raids and PvP battles for control of special zones where organizations can build towers that provide skill boosts. Unfortunately, free players will be at a severe disadvantage in this regard since players must pay to have access to vehicles and to increase the level cap from 200 to 220. But anyone who gets that involved with the game will likely already be a premium members.
Final Verdict: Fair
The large number of professions and other interesting features don’t save Anarchy Online from its dated graphics and limited free content. Those looking for an old-school MMORPG that favors open-ended gameplay over linear progression should give this game a try. If you’re into sci-fi games, RF Online, Ace Online and Megaten are also worth checking out.
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