Review by jetman123

"Everything (N)everquest should have been, with a wonderful interaction system mixed in."

Based on the classic tabletop roleplaying game, Dungeons and Dragons, latest edition (3.5), Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach is the latest game in the series that attempts to remake the tabletop for online playing - and the most successful, in my opinion.

I have only read about Dungeons and Dragons, never played it. However, after playing this game I am almost tempted to go out and buy the tabletop version myself, if nothing else than to experience how the game expertly portrays you as a fearless adventurer helping the needy - or those who pay you. Slaying spiders, jumping and rolling through waves of endless traps, and gracefully carving apart kobolds in sewers, all as an unseen narrator describes the sights and sounds around you, giving them an authentic, novel-like feel.

Let us begin.

Sound - 10/10
The music is scant, but gives a good feel when it does come in. Ambient noise, especially that in sewers, is extraordinarily well done, adding to the depth of the game. And of course, there's the narrator.

Let me explain. In the tabletop version of the game, there is a player who is appointed as "Game Master". He or she is the one who makes up the adventures, situations, monsters, and rooms the players face, and makes sure they seem authentic by using their narratory skills to describe everything that happens.

The game faithfully replicates this by having, at certain times, actual live voice clips, accompanied by text, that describe some of your more important actions, and some of the more ambient rooms. It adds a wonderful storytelling-esque feel to the quests. For instance, you have just decended into a slimy sewer - as soon as you see the light and dripping water up ahead, the narrator cuts in, and you see his words appear before you - "The stench from the sewer ahead is terrible. Not even a kobold would enjoy advancing into it." Or. "As you advance further into the Low Road, you realize you are shivering from the cold."

This system is excellent, since it gives us a much easier way of imagining things that are happening around us, things that can't - or they didn't have time to - program into the graphics engine. You can almost imagine the scene playing out in a movie.

For combining this seamlessly with gameplay, DnDO: SR gets a perfect score in sound - 10/10.

Story - 7/10

The story isn't exactly edge-of-your-seat gripping, but I was definitely intrigued as I followed a string of quests through the harbor, rescuing people, protecting interests, defeating demons and slaying kobolds for the Chuch of the Silver Flame and the harbormaster. Not much else to say.

For reasonably compelling storylines, DnDO: SR gets a moderate score in storytelling - 7/10.

Graphics - 9/10

Ah, graphics. The pitfall of most game companies (read: EA). Far too many times it is the trend to focus far too much on graphics and eye-candy while not focusing enough on the gameplay.

Thankfully, DnDO: SR delivers both excellent gameplay and excellent graphics that do nothing but add to the immersion of the experience, and that is a good thing, indeed. From swinging dungeon lights to falling water and the beautiful view over a harbor, it definitely isn't Half Life 2, but provides more than enough detail to find yourself chilled and gripped by the environment around you.

For excellent graphics while not letting them detract from gameplay, DnDO: SR gets a near-perfect score - 9/10.

Gameplay - 10/10

And here we get to the meat of the chicken. And in this bird, it's the most delicious part.

DnDO: SR employs a very different system of combat in an MMORPG than I have ever seen before, mixing in action with classic die-rolling. You have all the basic mechanics from DnD and Everquest, strength, intelligence, etc - except your reflexes play an important part, too.

Instead of just mindlessly clicking the same button again and again, one can move around during combat, slice at different enemies, do special attacks on a whim, jump, block, tumble - all in real-time, with no messy attack delay. The game blends action and RPG seamlessly. More often than not I harkened back to playing Legend of Zelda or Star Fox Adventures. If you liked the combat system in that game, you'll find much the same one in this one - except with RPG elements.

There is no level grind. The game strikes a perfect balance between not leveling too quickly or too slowly. You do not need fifty party members to accomplish a quest, as with multiple difficulty levels you can attempt it alone or with up to five other people, at an appropriate level of difficulty. Experience is distributed at the same level to everybody in a party, meaning you don't have to share at all. Every chest you open will spawn equipment for everybody in your party, not whoever clicks on it first. All of this means you can act as alone or as surrounded by friends as you want, and you'll never find anything any different. As a matter of fact, it's actually MORE advantageous to go in a party, since that means you can accomplish lower-level quests on a higher difficulty level and you all get better loot and XP. Fun for all.

With a variety of races, an appearance customizer that rivals Star Wars Galaxies, a wonderful assortment of classes, skills, and feats, plus a wonderful action system and the perfect balance of almost everything that fouls up other MMOs, I love this game and HIGHLY reccomend it. And thus DnDO: SR gets a perfect score of 10/10 in the gameplay department.

Replayability - 9/10

I have only played the free trial so far, yet I am already a dedicated customer and saving up to get several months of gameplay time. I have talked with other, longer-existing characters and found that general consensus is the same - the game is wonderfully fun and will keep you coming back for more. I agree.

For such depth, DnDO: SR gets a near-perfect score of 9/10 in replayability.

Reccomend? - DEFINITELY

If you're looking for an MMO to compliment EVE Online or such, GET THIS GAME. If you aren't convinced, try out the free trial. If you like action RPGs and MMOS, this is the game for you.

I would reccomend this to anyone.

Happy kobold-slaying, everyone. DnDO: SR will have me hooked for awhile.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/08/06


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