Blade Wars Review
By MMOHut's Erhan Altay
Blade Wars was developed by the Chinese studio ChangYou and originally released back in 2007. ChangYou has since made a big move into the North American free to play MMORPG market, first with Dragon Oath and now Blade Wars. The game entered open beta testing on June 24, 2010 and offers players a martial arts themed MMORPG with a classic isometric view, and a familiar action-RPG interface.
A Different Perspective
While both Dragon Oath and Blade Wars are set in medieval China and have similar environments, the two games offer different playstyles. Dragon Oath plays like a traditional 3D MMORPG while Blade Wars is closer to 90’s era action-RPGs like Diablo 2. The visuals also bear a resemblance to Mir 2, but with much better models. Blade Wars utilizes a ‘2.5D’ engine where the camera is fixed and players can only move in two dimensions, but character models and other objects have 3D effects. The point-and-click movement scheme and isometric view work well together, but it doesn’t mask the fact that Blade Wars is a dated game.
With a client size of a Little over 1 GB, the game shouldn’t take too long to download. Players who already have an account with ChangYou can skip registration and log right in. The character creation process is very simple. There are no appearance customization options, players simply select which of the ten avatars they prefer. While there are only five classes in Blade Wars, each has a male and female version. The five classes belong to one of three races which are in conflict with one another in the game’s lore. In reality, everyone is at war with everyone so don’t worry too much about which race a particular class belongs to. For the record, the Knight and Assassin are human, the Shura and Warrior are Abyssal, and the Warlock is the lone Immortal. After selecting a class, players can scroll through a short selection of portraits and must enter a birthday for their character.
New players start in the peaceful city of Spring County with the auto-navigation feature practically in full swing. Dialogue prompts lead players from one NPC to another, each with a new quest to offer. These early quests will take players to every corner of the starting city and introduce them to all the notable NPCs including the various skill trainers. Eventually combat related quests will take players outside town, but even then things feel pretty automated. Players only need to double click a monster and the game will take care of the rest. As with most Asian MMORPGs, the monster AI and overall PvE difficulty in Blade Wars seems to be non existent. The myriad health and mana potions won’t need to be touched since the monsters do literally zero damage. While moving and attacking, players will slowly deplete their Vigor meter which automatically refills when standing still. Different attacks can be linked to the right and left mouse buttons and players can alternate between various attacking during combat. This may come in handy during PvP in the later levels, but newbies won’t need to use any combos or skills at all to dispatch mobs.
The progression rate in Blade Wars is fairly rapid, mainly due to quest rewards. Grinding off similarly leveled foes yields little experience or cash, but each quest completed rewards a dollop of coins and exp points. Monsters do drop equipment with random stats and its easily to switch between weapons and armor while out in the field. Like in Battle of the Immortals, there are always plenty of quests to complete and they do a great job leading players from one map to the next. There are currently around 50 zones in Blade Wars, so players won’t run out of content anytime soon. There are four key attributes in the game, and they are Stamina, Strength, Physique and Spirit. The game automatically allocates attribute points until level 30 at which point that responsibility passes to the player.
Learning and Growing
Until level 40, players acquire new skills simply be speaking to a Kung Fu Master NPC located in major cities. After 40, skills can only be learned by finding the corresponding skill books which are dropped by special monsters. Besides simple combat skills, Blade Wars offers a variety of more complicated gameplay features. Formations are special skills that come into effect when players team up. When a formation is activated, players will have to stand in certain positions marked by lines on the screen. On screen guides help players stay in formation and receive the corresponding benefits of doing so. Another interesting feature is the combo skill editor. By using this window, players can craft their own attack sequences. The game does recommend each class its own set of combos, but players are free to experiment with the feature and create their own. Finally, there are six talents in Blade Wars. These work a bit differently than talents in other MMORPGs. The first four are Physical Attack, Ice, Fire, and Poison. These act as damage modifiers that can be leveled to increase a character’s damage or Resistance to those elements. the final two talents are Defense and Life which play a more protective role. Talents can be increased up to a max level of 100, but it costs both coins and experience to rank them up.
Mastering the Martial Arts
Computer controlled enemies may not provide much of a challenge in Blade Wars, but the game has plenty of PvP options to keep things competitive. The easiest way to participate in player vs player combat is to toggle the PvP flag located near the minimap. The PvP flag has multiple modes ranging from ‘Peace’ where the player is immune to attacks, to ‘Free’ where anything goes. In between are such modes as ‘Morality’ in which the morality level of other players will be visible. Players lose morality by killing Innocent characters. If a player’s morality drops too low. they’ll have a chance of dropping items upon death. Two group related modes include Team and Guild mode which basically turn off friendly fire against allies. PvP related events and guild battles provide bigger, more organized player vs player encounters but these are geared towards higher level players.
Final Verdict: Fair
Blade Wars offers a familiar MMORPG experience with an easy to use interface and fast paced progression. The martial arts theme is supported by a nice soundtrack and varied classes. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough to make up for the fact that Blade Wars is a dated game competing with many newer titles in the same genre.
Pros: +Fast paced combat. +Play musical instruments. +Guild battles and PvP arenas. +Earn extra experience & coins in groups. +Create custom Combos.
Cons: -Dated visuals and interface. -Monsters provide no challenge. -Limited display options.