Although client-based MMO games with gorgeous 3D graphics today account for a major part of gaming industry and are expected to see steady growth, 2D isometric games have also won a cult following among veteran MMO gamers, given their nostalgic interface and gameplay. Grand Epic Online is just that kind of non-Facebook browser game I played recently. To be honest, I’m getting kind of tired of those brand new Facebook strategy games that keep rolling out and attempt to clone their existing predecessors. Alternating between Greek or Roman mythologies and other generic Western fantasy settings, game developers never stop racking their wits to find a way out to polish their games in order to keep their pockets full. However, what remains unchanged is the core of the game. I mean, the slow-paced and asynchronous turn-based combat style does not fit my appetite.
It is widely acknowledged that the oriental elements also shine with their own bright sparks in gaming world, such as the Samurai’ Way in Japan and the Martial Arts in China. As far as I know, the game had been under development for quite a few years and was launched firstly in China in 2009; however, it still has a large user base and never stops undergoing major updates to keep the players glued in. As a Chinese player, I was more than happy when I heard something pertaining to the game being localized for English-speaking countries from the game publisher. Besides, it is just because of its resemblance to Diablo 2 and the Legend of Mir2, which are my favorite two games, I decided to start off my journey into the world of GEO.
When entering the game, I get to choose one from four factions known as Flowers Valley, TianMu Cave, Shu Mountain and Herming Mountain. Each combat school features its own preferred weapon and specialty. On the other hand, I was under the impression that I should have been provided with a variety of options to customize my avatar, but I was only allowed to choose my avatar from only two images available for each faction (a male and a female, respectively), a bit disappointing.
Speaking of the graphics, don’t expect too much although utilizing 2.5D graphics is considered a breakthrough in browser games. After all, it takes on epic MMORPGs but is powered by less comprehensive browser-based plug-ins. However, in despite of the hardware restriction, landscapes are nicely laid out in isometric perspective, by the standard of browser games. Besides, the game interface is well-optimized for easy navigation. The menus are as they should be, buttons that are provided to access these menus are also of decent size and easy to be distinguished based on the icon on them.
The background music also maintains its distinct Chinese characteristics and is played in ensembles of plucked and stringed instruments. But what happened is that it’s the only monotonous soundtrack that plays the moment I start off the game in newbie town and there is no change so far. The sound effect is the other gripe I have with this game. Well, I don’t expect a browser game can attain the same height with its client based counterparts, which could realistically mimic the sound of bone-crushing or flesh-tearing. But in the game, the sound effect of landing a successful hit upon target using projectile, edged or blundgoning weapons are the same. From my opinion, the graphics are just so-so while the monotonous sound effect is a very big let down to me, more decent sound effects should have been added.
Now, let’s move onto the gameplay. As a typical traditional action-packed MMORPG, it doesn’t involve any real learning curve. Players have the alternative ways of controlling over the character using either WASD or click-to-move fashion; you may left-click mouse on desired target for normal attack or press the numeric keys which are bound to hot-button slots in order to use skills. Likewise, the game provides a typical quest system, those decent enough town folks will have you make your ways through these quests. Additionally, the quest auto-navigation function is introduced to facilitate players to locate key persons or monsters. A simple click on the underlined name of an NPC or a monster in the quest description interface will automatically send your character to the destination. Any MMO vertaran should be able to familiarize himself with the game very quickly.
Pets and Mounts system is another common MMO trait and is handled via the micro-transaction scheme. I’ve heard tons of people in Chinese servers gripping about the awkward system. Basically, you need those pesky rare ingredients which are indispensable for forging a decent-looking mount. In most cases, the journey will take you across the highest peaks, into the wildest regions and back again. However, it won’t be a problem for those who decide to open their wallet. If you think you are done with your job, then you are all wet. Next, you will be astonishingly noticed that the success rate to forge a mount is incredibly low. A good example of this is that the success rate to forge the ultimate mount in the game – the fire dragon is only 1%. So you can imagine that you will be getting a near 100% failure every damn time. If there were any way to have a boost in the success rate, then the mount system wouldn’t be such a frustrating one.
Some other game mechanics which are full of Chinese elements are involved to make the game more different. The Meridians system is just among them. Meridians were originally discovered and recognized in ancient China, and are served as the theoretical proof of curing disease according to traditional Chinese medicine. Many modern Chinese fictional martial arts novels are also inspired by this theory. You may get totally confused about how actually it works, and in practice, it would be tedious to dwell upon the notion. Instead, you just need to know that it grants pay-to-play players uber-power boost which affects the fairness of the game to some extent.
Overall, the game is a new addition to the traditional 2D MMORPG and is incorporated a couple of addictive ideas popularized in client-based MMORPGs, so it's worthy of any hardcore gamers giving it a shot. Doing away the annoying energy system which is widely adopted by almost every Facebook game, it can keep you glued to the screen for hours. But on the other hand, it will probably drive away those casual players who do not have much time to maintain themselves to the level that others are going. On top of that, my biggest concern is the low rate of item enchantment/forging and the ability to buy supreme gears from cash shop. Given that, I’m hoping the game operator would take this issue into account and would really do something seriously in order to make this game stand out amongst truckloads of others.
Self Introduction From Author:
|Hi, I’m Über&Turbo, a new addition to the community. As a Chinese player, I will be helpful in delivering something new to you folks who might be still uninformed about the online gaming industry in China. Rather, I will post some reviews pertaining to online games that should probably interest the masses, and let you know what I would see as nice game mechanics that contribute to a decent game (or bad ideas that ruin a game). If you do not hold the same opinions and views as I do on a certain topic, feel free to let me know. I am sorry for my poor grammar since English is my secondary language, so I’d appreciate it if you could point out any mistakes.|
Subscribe to Daily Browser Games Reviews!