Review by Dopeoddy
"Rift - Drawing in newcomers and MMO vet's alike"
Rift, being a new MMO from the fairly unknown company of Trion may have more than a few skeptics wondering if they should give the game a try (I should know, I was one of them), but after only a few short days playing it, it has really got me interested. By seamlessly blending a lot of things in MMO's that I already love (think of it as your own mix CD of awesome songs) and providing a very fun and addictive experience, I can safely say that Rift should entice MMO veterans and newcomers alike to at the very least give it a try and see what all the hype is about.
The classes in Rift follow very closely to the established tried and true MMO concepts, while at the same time adding enough of its own flavor into the game to set itself apart from the rest. The classes are defined as you might imagine: Rogue, Mage, Cleric, and Warrior types. From each archetype you further specialize in a class (or as Rift calls them "Souls") which really are what defines your character and what they can do. The soul system is interesting in that it gives you the freedom to create your own play style while not restricting you: Like to tank but still want to be a good healer? Pick Cleric and grab the Justicar soul. Want to be great support for a group and but still use ranged attacks? Pick Rogue and be a Bard with a Ranger as a second soul. The list of combinations is pretty staggering, and the fact that you can pick 3 souls at the same time (If you've played FFXI, think of them as a job and 2 sub jobs with no limits on what level each job is) makes for a lot of possible play styles. If that wasn't enough, you can have up to 4 roles (think of these as a off spec in WoW, but instead of 2 specs you can have 4), so you can really have a ton of versatility packed into one character.
Rift's leveling system also puts its own spin on things: Each time you level you get "Soul Points" to spend in any of your 3 souls that you have. Basically you get to spend them on talents (think of WoW's talent tree, only upside down) or bonuses to your class and your classes abilities. Whats interesting though is that instead of automatically getting abilities as you level up, you start to get abilities depending on which soul you're spending your soul points in. So if you're putting all your soul points into 1 soul, you'll start to get a ton of abilities from that one soul, but none from any of the others. This adds yet another layer of customization, as some souls will have certain abilities you'll want, but have to spend X amount of points in order to get (and on the flip side of that, some souls have great abilities you get without putting a single point into them!).
Gameplay for the most part is very enjoyable as a whole. Rift has your basic gamut of quests one should come to expect from most MMO's these days: Kill X of this guy, grab Y of this plant, use Z item on A target, etc. They do seem to be varied enough that they don't become incredibly repetitive though, which is a plus. The real fun of the game comes from the Rifts for which the game is named. Rifts in the game are basically tears in the universe where baddies come through to ruin your day (they're similar to the forces that would attack towns in Tabula Rasa, that the players would have to defend). They spawn a horde of enemies which yield some pretty great bonuses if you can manage to kill them. What makes them more exciting is that they are very dynamic in their nature. A rift has literally formed right under me with no warning and transformed the entire terrain before my eyes. The monsters from the rifts can also start attacking the nearby towns if left unchecked. Sometimes a big boss from one of the rifts will even come out (not before summoning 7-8 rifts to clear the way for him though, of course). They're a lot of fun because they are quick, easy to find, and provide instant gratification: You can basically underneath a rift, start killing things, and get rewards once the rift is closed just for helping.
The game also has a great PVP system (straight out of WoW's Arena's, right down to the menu's), featuring your basic capture the flag scenario as the one that I've played the most. The above mentioned soul system really lends itself well to PVP, where the hardcore PVP'ers will want to put together the best combinations of souls to kill other players. The only scenario I've had open to me is "Capture the Fang" map. Basically there is 1 fang in the middle of the map, and holding it grants your team points, but the longer you hold it the more damage the fang gives you, and as well the more attention from the other team you're bound to get (as they can take the fang from you if they kill who's holding it). All and all very enjoyable and I'm sure there's a lot more in store as far as PvP goes.
The game's visual appeal is in a word, fantastic. If your computer can handle it, Rift is really capable of looking like a stellar game in terms of graphics. You'd be hard pressed to find another MMO out there right now looking as good as this game. Whether you're just looking off into the distance on the side of a cliff, or staring up at the giant life rift above you, the game really doesn't fail to impress. Now that's not to say that Trion expects everyone to be running 5000 dollar computers, so the game runs very respectably on medium settings for your average computer, and the game even features a low-render mode just in case you're really struggling with the games requirements.
The soundtrack has some great ambient music, orchestral pieces, and sets a great tone for the game whether its the relaxing background music of running through the forest, or the high energy pieces that accompany rift battles. Spells each have their own unique style of sounds, weapons realistically smash against enemies, and overall the sound makes the game very believable.
As far as the interface goes, well, it is World of Warcraft. The menu's, the placement of the windows, even right down to the font is pretty much all taken from WoW. Now that's not to say that this is bad, because Wow has done a lot of stuff right and had a lot of time to really polish everything in their game. This basically amounts to people who haven't played WoW having a very clean, straightforward interface to work with, and WoW vets having that much less of a transition when moving to Rift.
After having said so much about Rift, I really find it hard to fault the game in any way. Even down to its launch day, to which I didn't experience a single bit of lag, login server jams, update server jams, random disconnects, etc. was really spectacular. After having played several MMO's and seeing what works and what doesn't in them, I can safely say that Rift is doing a lot of things right. Hopefully this trend will continue into the future, but its safe to say that if you have any interest in Rift, MMO's, or even RPG's in general, that Rift is at the very least worth trying.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/04/11
Game Release: Rift (US, 03/01/11)
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