Thursday, January 1, 2009

Shin Megami Tensei (MegaTen)

Recently Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine (Or MegaTen for short) has went from closed to open beta. So now that everyone can come make an unholy pact with demons we might as well talk about it. While I've touched upon Shin Megami Tensei before,(Read my closed beta story here. You can also read Tipa's here.) I wanted to go into even further depth since now everyone can give it a try. While most gamers avoid a MT game, I truly do recommend this one.

Making a character in MegaTen is rather simple. There is no elaborate customizations that games such as Aion uses. You have a few different selections regardless height, face, clothing, hair, Arm Terminal, and weapons. I must stress that these are just the starting customizations. As soon as you get past the initial "quest" and tutorial you can buy weapons and armor from merchants.(Since this is an MT system, when I say buy I mean with cash you get from monsters in game, not actual money.) I honestly wish there was more freedom with customization here, a few more models for face/hair and such.

What's a good demon filled MMORPG without combat? This is where, for me, MegaTen shines.(And took me away from playing Archlord...more on that later) For anyone tired of the old press hot keys 1-2-3-4-5 then loot you should enjoy MegaTen's more interactive combat. While it IS quite simple(a more advanced version of Paper, Rock, Scissors) it really adds some excitement to fighting that doesn't make it seem like a horrid grind. For example, in the picture above the ghoul is charging me. I could just sit there like a moron and take it(Like you would in most MMOs) or you can use a counter/block ability. The strange geometric shapes indicates that I timed my counter correctly and the ghoul will get a nasty surprise when he finishes his attack.

Another element is the action plays more an action title. The demons get knocked by from strong attacks, certain enemies uses an ability called guard which you have to break if you want a chance to defeat them. Add in the counters and you'll find yourself having to pay attention to nearly every fight...unless you want to die horribly. Above is the game explaining my AOE attack...Nothing is more satisfying than seeing enemies fly away from your assault. Yet what is a game if its all action and no plot? This is where most MMORPGs fail at. Due to the medium itself the difficulty of creating AND maintaining an atmosphere, having a strong storyline, and letting players feel like they are part of it is extraordinary. While World of Warcraft succeeds to a degree, Lord of the Rings online even more so, and Bioware claiming SWTOR will finally give that to players you generally just can't find actual RPG elements in most online games.

I wish I could say MegaTen was a triumph in story. During the very beginning it is, but it slowly devolves into a normal MMORPG. However MegaTen does capture ones attention with the initial story and atmosphere. If your any type of fan of the Shin Megami series, you'll feel right at home here.(Unless you just HATE MMORPGs...then you won't.) There will be a few moments where you need to make moral choices for your character. These choices can then shift your character's alignment between good, neutral, and evil. Do you spare a demon's life or do you sacrifice the demon to possibly help others in the future? While that question seems a given, considering the context that it appears in you may need to think about it.

Once your done with the first quest, you find yourself within Home III. This is the starting city(or zone) of the game where you are introduced to the VR training program. This is where a more in depth tutorial of the game is introduced before you are sent out into the wasteland of Tokyo. Something to note, as it's pretty creepy, is the first person you meet upon arriving at Home III.
So give Shin Megami a try. It probably won't replace your "main" MMORPG, but it's a nice compliment if your wanting to avoid the "I'm burned out " syndrome with MMORPGs. It's better than Archlord.(While it IS a pretty game, I quickly quit Archlord and went to play MegaTen. I'm just not impressed by Archlord..but I'll talk about that later.) Regardless, any game that has you making contracts with demons can't be bad....right?

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