I’m Gonna Bore You to Death, Sucka!

Lineage II: The Chaotic Chronicle Collector’s Edition DVD includes loads of extras that, if you are a die-hard fan of Lineage II, you’ll love. The Collector’s Edition includes a vast amount of movies, from cinematic features to clips that give us some indication of the siege gameplay. You get a glimpse of E&G’s graphics team, as well as an interview. The behind-the-scenes montage of Lineage II’s voice actors is particularly entertaining; it shows us how sounds as minor as the pain of getting struck by a broadsword are sometimes taken for granted.

Among the benefits of the Collector’s Edition is the collection of songs that comes with it. The music of Lineage II is sublime; it helps to create a mystical and ethereal atmosphere. You also get a load of screenshots that aren’t particularly interesting, and a fan site kit for those who love Lineage II so much they feel it necessary to develop a website in its honor. Even with all this, the Collector’s Edition wouldn’t be the same without the twenty-two inch 3D paper doll of a g-stringed Elf female fighter.

Probably the most helpful inclusion is the Prima mini guide, which acts as mostly a leveling guide, but doesn’t give the basics, such as how to add a friend to your friends list, and if there’s an AFK or Follow command. The guide is clearly developed for power leveling and grinding. This isn’t inherently problematic, but this type of basic information is difficult to find in any of Lineage II’s literature or in the game itself. With two separate manuals at hand, a player should have access to a massive amount of information. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t the case.

After you’ve had some time to indulge in all the fun extras and fillers and you begin playing the game, the first thing you see is the character creation screen. Wow. These chicks are loaded. Character models such as the ones in Lineage II are what perpetuate the stereotype that gamers are a bunch of boys who’ve never seen the real thing, so they play with animated women instead. The character models are detailed and nicely designed overall, but the Elf women’s extravagantly endowed posteriors hang out of white lacey g-strings (to symbolize their purity, no doubt), and the dark Elf women look like they could’ve been characters out of the Marquis de Sade’s Philosophy in the Bedroom. To give credit where it’s due, however, the artists working on Lineage II are the only team to make an Orc female look even remotely attractive. In addition to the beautiful, but swanky character models, there isn’t much customization you can do with your character. Each model has about four face and hair style and color choices. The MMO genre has come a long way since the original Meridian 59, and with it the understanding that character customization is no longer added fluff, but a core element in creating a unique experience for the gamer.

There are five races in Lineage II: the Elf, dark Elf, Dwarf, Orc, and Human. The two starting classes available are mystic and fighter, each of which develops into a more specialized class at level twenty, and a final class at forty. Your character advances by levels as well as earning skill points, which you use to train with.

The crafting system in Lineage II is odd. The developers decided that Dwarves would be the only race that can craft items. This seems to be an incentive for players to choose Dwarves over the more attractive and talented races. This suggests that the races aren’t otherwise balanced.

Though Lineage II is known as primarily a Player-versus-Player game, the developers have done a nice job of creating a system that discourages rampant killing sprees. If a character kills a ?white’ character (someone who hasn’t killed recently or ever), then they become ?purple’ or even ?red’. Characters can kill red and purple characters without it affecting their Karma. Ultimately, killing makes you a target for others.

At first glance, the graphics are full of detail, from your avatar’s shadow to the sky’s sundry colors and shades. There are unidentified bubble-shaped objects floating in the air that complete the enchanting atmosphere of the world. After running around a while in the fantastical wonderland, however, you begin to notice shoddy glitches. Pools of water, for instance, don’t ripple. The water moves back and forth in a timed pattern making you feel like you’re on a seesaw. When you turn the camera too close to your character, you see ?inside’ the model; I saw the hollow shell of my Elf too many times. One of the most unattractive graphical mishaps occurs when your character walks up and down stairs with railings. If you look at your avatar from a side angle, you’ll see that its legs have been cut off.

Lineage II is a fun game, if you can actually take advantage of what it has to offer. One issue inhibiting this is the downtime. Some downtime is understandable at higher levels, but there really is no point at third level, when you’re trying to level up to five or seven just so you can secure your initial class-based skill. The fact that characters don’t receive any class-based skills until five (for fighters) or seven (for mystics) is another irritating hurdle; it makes even early level progression boring. Once you begin getting your skills, you get very few active ones, so you’re not doing much of anything new at this point either.

The quest system doesn’t help to alleviate this problem. The quests are tired and dull. Kill one hundred of this or that and come back to me. Deliver this, fetch me that. It’s a very mundane and typical system.

In order to make Lineage II’s player-versus-environment combat even more monotonous, they have rehashed the tired hack-n-slash system for fighters. There is very little strategy involved in fighting. The auto-attack button does all the work for you. At higher levels your skills can come in handy in certain situations and kiting is kind of strategic, though not original. The problem with this, however, is that a fighter’s special skills use lots MP. MP is needed to perform the basic attacks with more powerful weapons, so it’s really more beneficial to not use your special skills at all. The combat system, therefore, discourages the players from using any strategic moves or systems. This adds to the repetitive tone that pervades Lineage II.

Lineage II is more fun at higher levels, when you have the opportunity to immerse yourself into the PvP and participate in guild-against-guild battles. What’s disappointing is that this is the only dynamic aspect of the game. Everything else is static and lacks distinction, from the character models to the racial attitudes. For example, the dark Elf NPCs act the same as the default Elves. There’s no definable rudeness or attitudes of any kind.

Lineage II also has some more technical issues. The pathing is a bit awkward, and it’s easy to get stuck next to a rock or in a doorway if you choose to use the keyboard rather than the point and click method. Even more jarring is that the servers still have lag. Lineage II was released this past summer and the developers have had plenty of time to correct important problems such as this.

The Chaotic Chronicle has its positive elements, but you don’t really get to them until after level twenty. The lower levels aren’t terrible, just dull. There are so many minor things that affect this game as well, such as odd keyboard commands for chat options, the fact that you can only type short statements into the chat window, and the relaxed naming policy. I saw names that were clearly offensive to Asian players in particular.

Ultimately, Lineage II is a fine game if you don’t mind the lag and the dull combat, and grinding your way up to the higher levels so that you can actually enjoy the best elements the game has to offer.

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