Review by miyaa

"You had me, and you lost me."

I should probably explain. I was very much looking forward to Dungeon and Dragon Online. It claimed to use the 3.5 edition rules, it would be true to the flavor of the new Eberron setting. I was certainly looking forward to this new game. I really was.

Alas, I am utterly disappointed. Where do I begin to tell this sad tale? Let's start with the eyecandy, the graphics, sounds, and display set-up that has become so important in gaming these days. You can play one of nine classes and of five races. And true to its setting, you can play the new Warforged race, a sort of human golem. And the graphics are bad. Worse than you'd find in Neverwinter Nights. It's blocky, there doesn't seem to be much of a finish. The sound is better, but the narrator's voice seems to come in at odd times. The sound effects are pretty good, but often I found that they be louder than the narrator when you're in a dungeon.

The gameplay is also very disappointing. Atari hooked up with Turbine to make DDO instead of going with Bioware. And you'd think the abbrievated game system would be different. It's not. It's pretty similar. The big difference is that they break up leveling into groups of two, so instead of the twenty levels you'd find in the actual D&D game, there are ten levels. And depending on class, race and other factors, the leveling guides are either relatively few or steep. Skills, spells, and feats are also amended or combined so that the average player doesn't have to do deal with not as much stuff to begin with. I hope as the game progresses more and more skills and spells maybe added to show the full reprortore of this mmorpg engine.

But it's the mmorpg part of the game that is the most disappointing. In a sense, the game make it very discouraging for veterans and certainly for beginners. There is a brief introductory area where you learn the basics and you go on from there. Then you venture into the port area, and it's sort of like Intro II, where you have to show the guards you're not a criminal and you've actually helped people solve their UPS missions (which is what you end up doing). The first mission is a solo mission which is very, very, hard to do for most melee classes (fighter, paladin, rogue, and barbarian), and extremely hard to do for magic users (sorceror, wizard, and bard). What makes it fairly difficult is the requirement that you are to face your opponent all of the time to hit him whether it's by sword or magic. With a mouse/keyboard moving system, that can be very hard to do, especially if your opponent starts to move in and out, as the AI is being told to do. Really good stragedy, just not what I would have expected for a beginning area. And what is worse, in a lot of the cases, the "optional" parts of the quest are really very vital and mandatory in order for you to finish the mission. So, how optional are the side quests anyway?

The missions also seem to be really linear and seem to guide you towards an area, althrough that does loosen up a little as the missions get a bit tougher.

Another thing I'm having a hard time with is the rest/regenerating of "mana" points. Spellcasters have a spell pool, and it costs them so much points to cast a spell. Fair enough, it allows spellcasters to cast a few more spells of their own. However, in most cases, there are few (if not just one) "rest point" where you could heal up. In a way, this is understandable, as it forces you to make sure you have a healer with you at darn near all times (or a lot of potions). The downside is that these "rest points" also refill your spell pool. And when that rest point is used up, you can't use it again. There are two other ways to refill your spell pool: being incapacitated (that is bleeding to death), and sitting around at the tavern and getting regenerated at these taverns. Which kind of makes no sense whatever ever. Especially if you'd want a brawl to break out at a tavern. It just seems to make the difficulty level of the game to be way more than it really should be.

There are some nifty things about Dungeon and Dragon Online. "Stormreach" has class trainers early on that really seem to help you improve faster. And the player base so far seem to be really friendly. There maybe a player killer section, but I doubt it. So newbies might actually have a chance to play in this game.

Now, the game is really meant for parties of people, and with that, they do a really good job. Joining and leaving parties are really easy. However, this review is posted really early in the mmorpg game cycle, so I'm sure in a few years, this review will be pretty much obsolete. As it stands now, through, I'd just wait until Neverwinter Night 2 arrives. It's the only Atari/Wizard of the Coast game that has yet to disappoint me. This game isn't it.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 03/27/06

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