Cracking Down and Putting Hyboria On Probation

Yesterday morning and afternoon was graced with a welcome break as I finally got around to playing a bit of the year-old XBox 360 game, Crackdown. Compared to Grant Theft Auto 4, Crackdown's rooftop-to-rooftop leaping gun play against deserving targets is a lot more fun. However, GTA4 has a lot more soul to it, the Shenmue-like realism that made the characters and goings-on within the game something one can relate to, and significant.

In what time I had left after Crackdown, I returned to the very well-received Age of Conan.

The first thing I did after Crackdown yesterday was get my Necromancer in Age of Conan up to level 16. I'm getting the hang of him, he's not too shabby once you get a knack for firing off damage quickly and recognizing when it's time to throw the AOE fear spell. While the Necromancer may be vulnerable, he has the tools to deal with it. I like it when a MMORPG gives me genuinely useful tools.

However, one thing a Necromancer can't do is play Age of Conan's unique melee minigame. The shifting and exploitation of enemy directional shielding is more fun than just nuking away. So I gave a Dark Templar a spin. Things on the "much harder to kill but not quite as damaging side" aren't bad, I enjoy the shifting shield minigame in Age of Conan.

I can't help but think that the Herald of Xolti is the only character I can really enjoy about Age of Conan, and so having to abandon one at level 50 may have killed the game for me. Then again, the game sabotaged itself pretty effectively well outside of domineering friend shenanigans.

By Crom, Enough is Enough

At the top of each class on the official forum there's a consolidated issues list. If the problems outlined with the classes were a few minor bug fixes, I wouldn't be so bothered. However, these lists point out major problems, such as stat points currently do nothing and higher leveled combo/spells often cost more for the same result. I don't know who Funcom has working on their game balance, but haven't they ever heard of a spreadsheet?

These issues were the last straw. It was damning enough of the game to have a "low detail" mode that made the game perform worse. I've now grokked the nuts and bolts of the RPG mechanic behind Age of Conan and found it fundamentally lacking in forethought. All my inner armchair game developer sentiment went into outright rejection mode.

This morning, I decided to put my foot down and put Age of Conan "on probation," so to speak. It's now canceled, but I'll continue to play it. If the situation improves enough by the 26th of June (when it expires) then I'll renew it. While the continuity of my Herald of Xolti being broken contributed to this decision, there clearly were deeper problems afoot.


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