Thursday, November 13, 2008

Vanguard : Saga of Heroes

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was a game I was told would take me back to my EverQuest days. With a legion of World of Warcraft clones swarming the world in a frenzy, I was very uplifted by this bit o gossip. However to anyone that got a little glint in their eye from hearing a " spiritual" resurrection to the good ol days, Vanguard doesn't live up to that hype. Frankly, it doesn't live up to any hype really. Do not get me wrong, Vanguard isn't some horrid game like Matrix Online! * I can't wait to get to THAT review! *
However I cannot stress that while Vanguard isn't bad, it doesn't really stand out in any way, shape, or form.

It first started out as what is called by several publications are the worst launch ever. Plagued with glitches, lack of BOTH low and high level content, and inability to run on some system. *Even if they were high end* This of course made for a huge loss of people after the free month went up, if people even played that long. *Hint: They didn't.* However, in recent months several of those issues have been fixed and more content added. They even added a free trial trying to get a higher player base starting on a brand new area made just for fresh characters. However, after I made a brand spanking new character to romp back through the hills, I was still sad. Why was I mourning in sorrow?

Someone stole Blizzard's playbook when it came to gameplay. There is nothing new on the basic fighting, be it PVE or PVE. You have all your standards here which I suppose isn't a sin. The UI is generally clean and crisp, serving it's purpose well. While as I said it looks stolen from WoW, every other game is doing it too so that makes it ok....right?

Vanguard does improve on a few ideas of MMORPGS however. For example, nearly all the classes are hybrids, so no one class has a solitary role. Each of the classes * There are 15 in total * have primary and secondary abilities. The Cleric, for example, is mostly for the healing feeling, but has some tanking prowess. However all 15 classes are what you are probably already familiar with. The Monk and Disciple class both get a point counter called " Jin " that they use as currency for other abilities, which is really identical to a Rogue's combo point system from World of Warcraft.

However there is a world outside of combat. What I didn't explain before was there are four areas in total your character can level in, independently. Adventuring, Crafting, Diplomacy, and Harvesting. Adventuring is exactly what it sounds, the typical grind/quest/loot. Crafting is the same as well, as is Harvesting. You can however level each of these fields separate of one another. So your adventure level doesn't cap your harvesting or crafting level, unlike World of Warcraft. Now Diplomacy is a bit different, and kinda gimmicky. However for all that I applaud them trying to add this type of play into a MMO. Diplomacy is basically a card game where you play against someone using a deck of cards. Diplomats can give city wide bonuses that are very neat * Think the zone wide bonus of killing Onyxia *. They are also needed for guild houses and certain flying mounts.

Probably my favorite feature was purchasing my own boat. I can't really say why, I just thought it was a touch of interaction left out of other games that really made me feel removed from the game. Anything that adds to the ambiance of the game to make you feel immersed is the keystone to a successful online game.

Now it's time to come to the nitty gritty. You've probably already seen to some extent how the game looks. I'll admit that at times it's truly breathtaking, however there are also some hiccups that completely ruin the effect. Even on a high end machine you will see some pop ups, some distortions, and I had the occasional " water disappearing " glitch. Still, it's a very pretty game and VERY open. If you see a place you can go there proving you have the means. However it's not a game I recommend to someone with a below average rig, the huge open areas can get your comp into a death lock very quickly.

Sound is also an issue with me on this game, and I really don't have some secret agenda *That you know of* against Vanguard, but the sound to me was just bland. Effects seemed stapled on and what music existed was really generic, even for this type of game. I never experienced any type of epic music as I have in Lord of the Rings Online or in World of Warcraft. Sound is a huge part of the atmosphere of a game! If I swing a huge halberd at someones head and it gives a weak little whack, I will blink in puzzlement. It's just what I do.
  • Graphics: 8/10. It's shiny pretty.
  • Sound: 5/10. Plug in your Ipod or turn on Winamp.
  • Gameplay: 6/10. Plays ok, but you'll be hard pressed to find anything new here.
  • Innovation: 6/10. Diplomacy and Boats!

Overall, I don't recommend this game. Not with established giants such as World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings out there. Even if someone had played these and got tired of them, you won't find anything new here. Still, there IS a free trial for the game, which you can find on their official website, so you don't lose anything to try it if you are bored.

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