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Defunk'd: Alting Over, LOTRO Begins

Somehow, I've found the way through the murky depths of City of Heroes burnout that spawned my last Blog entry. In the intervening time, I've made two faithful decisions that helped improve my outlook.

Decision 1: In City of Heroes, I'm playing my current highest level character to 50, and the rest be damned.

The lucky hero is Psi-Caster, my level 38 Illusion/Storm Controller. As of today, make that level 39. From here on out the treadmill is straight, not curved, with the same amount of even-level minions defeated to grant me a level. A level a day should be achievable, and thus, I might be level 50 before the end of my vacation on June 17th. Double experience weekend helps there, too. I'm essentially home free.

Psi-Caster's major malfunction is he's a slow soloing experience, so here's a thought: group. Problem solved! That I'm actually capable of soloing when a group isn't around is nice, and his wide array of chaotic control methods is pretty entertaining. Some controllers hold their foes down but I throw tornadoes at them. Oh, Psi-Caster my sweet, why ever did I abandon you?

Unfortunately, he's flat broke and not in a good position to take advantage of that gooey Issue 9 goodness. An unusual thing about how Issue 9 is balanced is that it's actually a lot harder to make influence (money) at higher levels than it is at lower levels. Sure, the drops sell more to the NPCs, but nobody wants to buy what drops to higher level players. That kinda makes it hard to shell out the hefty influence costs to assemble my worthless salvage into invention enhancements I can use.

Decision 2: Play a bit of Lord Of The Rings: Shadows Of Angmar.

No, I'm not making a real big commitment to that MMORPG. My current plan remains to go back to EverQuest 2 once I bore of City of Heroes. However, my brother bought LOTRO and it included a Buddy key with 10 days of free access, so I decided to see how the game is like in the release state.

Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar's release sort of snuck by me. Its release coincided with issue 9's release in City of Heroes, perhaps a deliberate move that successfully blindsided me. I'm not bitter, I still wuv you Cryptic. Anyway, I got to play the beta a bit, so I've still got a head start in some ways.

It's a good game. They went for a World of Warcraft-like appearance and play, as will every MMORPG developer looking to skim some cream off of that cash cow, but simultaneously pulled off something fundamentally more epic and deep. Though based on the Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach engine, LOTRO is not a game of tiny zones and encapsulated adventures. Nope, it actually manages to pull a bit of cinematic charm from the movie series while simultaneously being based in a humongous world. Not an easy feat!

Despite being better in a few important ways, I don't think Lord of the Rings Online is going to be as popular as World of Warcraft because it lacks Blizzard-level popularity. Blizzard is a highly reputed game brand, it's actually worshipped like some kind of God in Korea... or something close to that. Lord of the Rings, on the other hand, is mere popular intellectual property.

Thanks to dozens of botched movie and TV games, gamers trust games based on popular intellectual property about as much as they trust anti-video game violence legislation. Star Wars Galaxies, anyone? No? Then how about some Matrix Online? Thought not. Yet, once in awhile we get a MMORPG based on a popular license that is thoroughly fun to play, and Shadows of Angmar is perhaps the first movie MMORPGs to really pull this off.

I expect that Shadows of Angar will be fun, but I'd be surprised if I splurge on a retail copy. Despite being a great World of Warcraft clone that adds a bit of epic and lore appeal I'm kinda bored of the base mechanic involved. That's the cloner's peril: the audience they're trying to steal may already be semi-bored of the game they're cloning. Still, having some time away from CoH will do me some good, so it is that I'm taking a brief side trip to LOTRO.


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