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Lineage II: The Epic Collection (PC) artwork

Lineage II: The Epic Collection (PC) review


"Return to Lineage 2 : Chaos Chronicle 5 and Interlude Review by Geek Woman "



Return to Lineage 2 : Chaos Chronicle 5 and Interlude Review by Geek Woman

First Impressions

Lineage 2 is one of the most popular MMORPGs in the world because of the huge international subscribership that it has had for years. It was preceded by Lineage which had a rabid following over seas but took longer for US gamers to get into it. I returned to Lineage 2 after reviewing the game for the first time in summer of '05. There were many improvements and exciting new territories. Lineage 2 continues to be a forbidding, frightening and fun open-ended experience. This time the dark elf female even had underpants.

This is the game that reviewers agree "isn't for everyone". There aren't any stop gaps in Lineage 2 to prevent Player - versus - Player anarchy. Your character could get killed, or robbed at any time and you aren't supposed to expect any sympathy. Getting anywhere takes lots of hard work. At every turn the game is an unrelenting challenge.

Interlude introduces elements from the game's next evolution, The Chaotic Throne, as well as adding dinosaurs. Recently in this free - to - subscribing - players expansion they opened a new territory called the Primeval Isle. The new location has new creatures such as Wild Striders, Pachycephalosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus rex. For mid-level players and advanced Lineage II players there is access to more than 150 new bonuses to enhance and customize weapons. Starting players are able to use the Shadow Weapons feature which is a "try before you buy" service.

For solo players there's a new dueling system implemented in Interlude. The good thing about this is that it doesn't give out penalties whenever your character loses a battle. It can be used on one-on-one fights or party-versus-party battles.

The box art on the Lineage 2 the Chaotic Chronicle Second Anniversary Edition DVD ROM and Game Time Card featured a bright orange dragon. Later I would get to know some of the Dragons of this world a little too personally. The installation process and the setups that had to be performed were streamlined with the use of the DVD Game Client Installer. Instead of swapping out five CD's and waiting for for four hours of updates, it went by smoothly and quickly.

Graphics:

The graphics are beautifully detailed. There are many improvements which I noticed throughout the game. Inside the deep tunnels of the dark elf village the stone work looks more refined. Where there once was a plain obelisk there is a tall sculpture of a severed hand. The backgrounds are unusual and varied. In the Sea of Spores a pink rain of mushroom spores falls and creates a strange quiet in an odd atmosphere. The graphics have many moods depending on the area you are in. It is as if the different territories themselves are unique worlds. It feels uncohesive.

The interesting fantasy graphic art-style isn't limited to the dark beauty inside the cloisters of black magic alone. In the village of the light elves the holy trees sparkle from the flight of fireflies. Diaphanous Pixies, transparent Liren and tiny glittering globes float around mystically. There are more usual looking trees, flowers and grassy plains around the elven village. In many places the environments seem more average. The terrain on the roads can be endless and a bit plain.

The water effects lacked reflectivity and were choppy. Wandering offers little to look at unless you venture off the road. Occasionally something outstanding will sidle up next to you and stomp its feet. There are of course unfathomably old talking trees, but there is still a twist of something different. In the territory of dark elves there are more spiny plants and huge trees that display macabre jewelry made from rattling skulls. Their cracked maws hoot and howl when you hunt in the swamps. Transparent Dark Horrors swim up from the swamps and envelope a character with it's smoke - like body and hack it with twin scythes for hands.

The armor styles are unbelievably fanciful. They range from too cute on the dwarves, to very sexy in the case of nubile dark elf females. The designs look a bit like the costumes of harlequins or pirates. This time around the dark elf female started with an actual pair of panties that covered her, front and back. The first time I played, she was only wearing a belt like contraption. After the character leveled up, and got 'better' armor - a thong. Buying items such as 'tunics' and 'leather pants' were found to be loosely interpreted in the description. The 'tunic' was more like a mostly see - through bustier. The 'pants' were a skirt that was held together at each side by cords. If the expensive magical jewelry was able to show on the characters that would be a good addition.

The graphics in Lineage 2 are continually improving. The characters and the architecture are very carefully crafted, if the natural environment is lacking some finesse it doesn't matter much. Even though Guild Wars still looks the prettiest, Lineage 2 might be a close second. It is an example of art taken in a different direction. Or many different directions...

Sound/Music:

The sound effects and music were good. There are many engaging tracks to listen to in the game but in general during travel and grinding the music wasn't anything especially noticeable. Wearing headphones was very immersive. The sound effects for casting were superb. The character spoke a slightly different chant for each spell. Background sound effects were good. The buzzing of flies sounded real, there were plenty of bird and water sound effects. There could have been more music throughout the game. On the islands or as you enter the towns dungeons or cave areas scene painting music queues up when you enter.

Game-play:

When you begin the game you are told to select a primary profession. You can select the hair color and style, the face, and the skin tone that your character will have. To start with you pick out a race such as dark elf, elf, dwarf, orc or human. Then you choose the profession such as mage, or warrior to play as. There is a brief tutorial that gives you access to learn the basic skills. By annihilating scores of minor creatures with the starting equipment that you are given your character will gain experience points. Gradually. In the case of Lineage 2 verrry, gradually. In time the character will gain strength, abilities and magic. The experience of battle racks up points which increase the effectiveness of weapons and skills in battle.

You are left to your own devices fairly shortly, no attempt is made to hold your hand by the game. You have to figure it out on your own. Largely there isn't much to do beyond killing everything in sight until you reach the next significant level where you can access more skills. Get used to hunting because it is what you will be doing for long stretches of levels on end.

Lineage 2 is the that has a great deal of emphasis on Player versus Player (PvP) and even large armies, and big battle sieges. The nobility, guilds and alliances in the game are very powerful and represent an enormous commitment of time to the game. The world is driven by players that control the economy, own territory, and even issue law.

Game-play in most MMORPG's begin with the usual similar tasks. You need to develop the strength and intelligence of your character by killing inferior enemies. The character gains more and more skill and it is called "leveling - up." You can complete missions and advance the story line by completing quests that are given out by non - playing characters (NPC's). You have to figure out how to best use all your weapons and spells. Then you have to acquire even better weapons and armor as the game gets harder as well.

What prevents totally rampant killing is an elaborate Karma system. If someone were to attack another player, the attacker's character name changes color from white to purple. If the person who was attacked does not fight and they are killed, the attacking character's name goes from purple to red and receives negative karma. Red characters are criminals, they are often will be killed by other players on sight. Killing off a red character induces no Karma penalty. As a bonus to bounty hunters the criminal might drop some of their items. When criminals try to enter the towns they get attacked by the guards. Merchants may even refuse to take money and trade with them.

The roads provide some safety for both criminals and normal players. Fewer random monsters accost you on the main roads and it makes it possible to travel farther into the game without restrictions. It is open ended you can play missions and quests or not. If you want to group or join up and play with an army in a siege you can. Or you can go the way of the lonely vagabond and solo.

If you get killed your character can be revived by another member of your party if you have one. If you are soloing and you get killed a number of times the death penalty increases making the character weaker. You have to buy expensive potions and scrolls to remove the death damages. Lineage 2 does not assign death damage to your armor and weapons the way that some games do. It effects your fighting ability and survival.

How well you do in the game depends on how well you use the skills that you learn. There are hundreds of skills in this game. The interfaces allows you to carry many skills, items and actions with you and to customize the set up of how you carry them making it easy and efficient to set up macros and strategies. I prefer this big skill bar that you get in both World of Warcraft and Lineage 2 over the small 8 slot one in Guild Wars.

The game begins with far too few skills to choose from for 19 levels. Apparently if you include all five races and classes, there are over 600 skills in the game. It just takes a very long time to develop and access more skills. Nothing is handed to you. It is easy to compare to Guild Wars, because for every difficult point in Lineage 2, Guild Wars offers the alternative shortcuts and user friendliness. You can level up to 12 or even 20 in Guild Wars much faster and have a more powerful character in a shorter time. The pace is very different.

In addition to normal attacks, spells and curses there are other abilities that involve getting other creatures to do your killing for you. You can summon demons, or even train and learn how to own a pet. Just like everything else in Lineage 2 these things are complex and difficult to pull off. The summoned creatures require a number of crystals, spells and gold to organize and use. The pets require extensive questing for knowledge and the taking of tests which require a score of 100%. If you miss a question on a pet test, you are sent back to do the entire quest over again and take the test over again as well. A serious amount of time and gold could be expended on trying and failing to obtain a pet. Even more outrageous is dragon ownership. The devotion to the game and the amount of gold and hours would be enormous but it is feasible to hatch, train and ride a dragon! My dragon experience in Lineage 2 went like this : I see dragon. I die.

If you are interested in the game beyond soloing as a vagabond you can join a clan. It is necessary to for taking advantage of the scenarios where there are large creatures and beasts. There are quests that require large groups of players to work together stratigizing. Only group tactics can penetrate the various towers to grab artifacts which grant ownership of the castles. The scale of these battles is epic, and takes major coordination efforts.

A problem with the scope of siege battles when a hundred or more players are on screen casting, summoning, and attacking it leads to serious lag trouble. The main cities can become extremely laggy at times as it is when there are too many players sitting around selling items. They clog up the towns and the chat screen taking up space and make it hard to navigate.

Enjoyment:

It drew me into its dark clutches for 60 days. I spent more time working on this game in a shorter period of time than any other that I have reviewed yet. In the first month I was playing for 10 - 12 hours a day. Although by the last two weeks I went down to about 20 hours a week. It got to me. The desire to build up a strong character that could deal with the harshness of the dark elven environs was all consuming.

I found a server that was mellow. I didn't have any problems with being attacked. There were people using bots or something to kill off large areas of creatures. Sometimes when I played in the morning the hillsides would be sparkling with gold. I'd check to see that no one was looking and pilfer as much of the ill gotten gain as I could. That brought a guilty pleasure.

Overall Impression:

Lineage 2 continues to be an unfolding saga of strange contrasts. There are mismatched creatures in widely differing artstyles. The races look oddly brought together as if anime met the Drow. It is darkly appealing. The game-play is diabolically hard, frequent penalties punish the players and yet one goes back for more. At night you dream of those long featureless expanses, running back and forth over and over again. It could be because the player is thinking "what the heck is going on?" even for several months into the game.

Marketing Efforts Towards Women:

No visible effort has been made to attract a female market here. The character designs could have been intended to spoof the character styles of other games. The dwarves and the event creatures are exaggerated in an over blown cute that seems to parody. If the slim and sensual looks of the other characters are not for you then that is there as an alternative.

Here again promiscuous outfits are no favor to women who are playing the game. Some of the outfits are plainly over - the - top sexual. You have to keep in mind that these are not human women though, they are dark elves who have a completely different set of values than earth females of our time and place. If they are anything like the Drow that they resemble so much then they are unrepentant torturers and murderers. These macabre, baneful and beautiful characters would interest some women. There is a pale gothy appeal to them. There are more males playing as them though.

PROS: It is open ended, enables siege battles and has unusual terrain.
CONS: The game is enormously time consuming, best played with a large clan.

Total Rating - 8
Gameplay - 8
Enjoyment - 8
Graphics - 8
Sound/Music - 7.5
Multiplayer - 8.5

Rating: 8/10

geekwoman's avatar
Community review by geekwoman (June 14, 2007)

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