The Chronicles of Spellborn – Preview
After chewing down on so many MMOs which have been created on the successful blueprint of World of Warcraft, much like seeing everyone dressing in the same retarded way because some fashion designer decided that wearing your underwear inside-out is some sort of artistic expression the world should embrace, you kind of wish a game would come out looking normal for a change, where normal in this case means a whole lot different than everything else. Well… no, that’s not the case for SpellBorn since somewhere along the long and surely painful developing process someone decided that being original is simply not worth it anymore.
By looking at the title I was hoping that at the beginning of the game I will have to choose between being an orb of blinding light, a magical frog which gets kissed by a prince with odd sexual orientations or a Texas redneck which gets struck by lightning, so you can imagine my surprise when I was asked to choose between a spellcaster, a rogue and a warrior – deja-vu anyone? At the rate games are reusing these character archetypes I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the next generation of TV repair men would wear ninja costumes and a pair of poisonous daggers or pointy hats and long wooden sticks as a result of their MMORPG traumatized childhood. I know it’s not fair blaming it all on SpellBorn, but generally the level of disappointment is equal to the level of expectation one has, and I was clearly expecting more from this game – silly me I guess. After you choose one these three classes, you have to go through the customization process which apparently is a must have nowadays. You pick the color of your skin, armor for all of your body parts, color for that armor, more color for that armor, even more color for that armor, voice for your character and so on. The problem is that regardless of your choices your character will look bad. Yes, that’s right, the characters look bad because the whole body lacks any sense of proportion, much like the reflexion you get while staring down at yourself in a “magical” circus mirror. Must be another form of artistic expression my peanut size brain fails to assimilate.
Eventually I pressed the “play” button and the whole game experience started with an orgasmic female voice explaining some philosophical concepts I could not be bothered to listen to because I was too eager to see what the actual gameplay is all about. So I was floating in space, on a boat, again. What is it with game intros and boats? Why can’t it be a train, a dragon, a magical biscuit or simply a couch in the middle of the desert? Why does it have to be a boat and if so, why won’t they give you the two silvers you have to give to the boatman? See where I’m going? Ok, I will stop now.
Once you’re off the boat enriched with the most basic and boring tutorial experience you might ever encounter, you can start hacking and slashing your way into your adventure. One way of doing that is talking to the first NPC that has a quest giver indication above his head, which is exactly why I did because I am one of those retarded players that actually give a damn about the storyline and I was expecting something truly spectacular to compensate for the first fifteen minutes of boredom. So there I was, hunting down young animals that have infested the area, being once again the savior of the ecosystem of an MMO. Hunting them down is the first part of the process, killing them is a whole different story. When you find the place where animals spawn after reading the quest text ten thousand times, looking at the map, reading the quest text again, asking in zone chat, asking some random player that you find near you and eventually stumbling upon your unfortunate target just as it has spawned and immediately started chewing on your fragile body, you discover that finding that area was not at all hard because all you needed to do is look for a cluster of players standing around doing apparently nothing when in fact they were cleverly waiting for the wolves, boars and bears to respawn. I joined them in their eco-friendly-walk-a-mole challenge because the whole trick of the quest was to hit the poor animal as soon as it came to life just to make sure that the kill has been registered as being yours. This consumed about one hour of my already short life and all this time I was wondering where the elder versions of the animals come from since I and my online friends all dressed in ninja costumes were apparently doing such a great job at exterminating the younger population from the face of the planet that all the wolves, bears and boars from SpellBorn should be immediately placed on the endangered species list.
Another wonderful quest chain I stumbled upon required me to pick some plants from a nice lady’s garden which were two feet away from her so I can only suspect she was lazy or had some really interesting medical problems since she was not able to bend over and pick them herself, then kill some squire-like creatures that were two feet away in the other direction and died if you so much as look at them funny, and eventually ended with the killing of a rabid dog which apparently was the brain of the whole operation. Talk about organized gardening-crime at the basic level…
So the quest trackers are close to inexistent, the characters look bad no matter how much customizations layers you add to them, the auto-targeting system makes no difference between friend or foe, the whole game design for the first experience levels is absolutely horrific and all this is wrapped nicely in a WoW-rip-off graphic package with an “I can’t draw a straight line even if my life depended on it” twist. Oh yeah, the combat system is interesting and the music is quite nice especially if you like Within Temptation, but that’s like putting leather seats inside a tank and pretending it’s a luxury car.