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Asheron's Call 2: Fallen Kings
game: Asheron's Call 2: Fallen Kings
five star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: Microsoft
date posted: 09:10 AM Fri Dec 20th, 2002
last revision: 04:02 PM Sun Oct 23rd, 2005

By Todd Allen

It is getting harder and harder to carve out a niche in the world of massively multiplayer online RPG\'s, but Turbine has really produced a superior product with great potential. Asheron\'s Call 2: Fallen Kings looks great and plays very well. Asheron\'s Call, the first installment, was a quality title, but you can tell that the developers have paid attention to what worked and what needed to get cut out when formulating the sequel. Despite the technical woes of opening an MMORPG, AC2 manages to catch gamers and keep them riveted.

The story of AC2 picks up centuries after its predecessor. The citizens of Dereth had come together to enjoy a golden age of prosperity and peace. Unfortunately, war broke out between Asheron and some of the other big hitters like the leader of the Virindi, those cloaked, masked creatures responsible for so many misadventures. Their war unleashed cataclysmic forces that ripped apart the landscape and warped the flora and fauna. Asheron protected Lugians, Humans, and Tumeroks within several sanctuaries where they were to wait till the world was safe to return to. Apparently the scouts are returning and the three races are venturing back into the wild.

Not only was the wildlife twisted, the once grand cities have been decimated as well. This may come as unwelcome news to many who were used to the large, heavily populated towns of AC1. Finding large gatherings in AC2 is a bit tough, which sort of instills a sense of loneliness, a rather unattractive feeling in a genre meant to encourage social interaction. I believe that feeling will be temporary, though as AC2 gets players to explore different relationships. In fact, as players work together and finish the story-driven quests, they will begin to rebuild those dilapidated towns.

The three playable races in AC2 are Humans, Lugians, and Tumeroks. Humans are described as a smart and resourceful group, easily adaptable and lethal with a bow. Lugians, a large, muscle bound race are bound by honor and make devastating melee fighters. Tumeroks are more reptilian in appearance and have a distinct contact with the magical elements. Make no mistake, though, any of the races can competently fulfill any of the three basic skill sets: melee, missile, and magic. Once you\'ve chosen a race and a progressed enough through the game in one of the basic skill sets, you can choose to specialize within that set. Each basic skill set has two special classes per race. For example: Your Lugian melee fighter reaches level 15, the level required before specialization is possible. At this point you may choose to become either a Lugian Berserker, a dual wielding damage machine with meager defenses, or a Lugian Juggernaut, a very strong and heavily defended warrior. Both of these classes have their own skill tree. Players are not forced to specialize, though. They may progress through the basic skill trees themselves if that makes them happy.

The point to this is that the more you specialize in a certain class, the more powerful you\'ll become, but also it will mean your added need for support from a fellowship. The Lugian Berserker, for example, is capable of dealing out massive amounts of damage, but will never be used to the fullest extent without an accomplished healer to keep his vitals stable. This will play an even more important role in the kingdom conflict.

Once players reach level 10 they are able to align themselves with one of three kingdoms. There is the choice of the kingdom of Order, Shadow, and Dominion. You can also choose not to join a faction and remain neutral. Naturally if these governments are at odds then their subjects will be too. This sets the stage for full-scale conflicts, wars if you will, especially since the territory where rare resources are found may be taken over and held by any of the three factions. All players have a rating depending on how many members of opposing factions they\'ve bested as well. The more points one earns towards this rating, special skills unique to their faction will become available.

Those are some of the nuts and bolts under the hood of AC2, but many may want to know how good she looks. Folks, without a doubt this is one of the most beautiful games of its type. Witnessing breathtaking sunrises and sunsets along with sprawling landscape isn\'t an uncommon experience in AC2. The architecture is fabulous. Turbine went a long way creating the majestic traces of a grand civilization, now reduced to history.

While I would\'ve liked to see more appearance options during the player creation phase, the existing options make some uniqueness possible. The player models themselves look fantastic, sporting some of the best detail I\'ve ever seen. Turbine has instituted an ambitious sound setup as well. The music is related to the location of the player as well as the various beasts they\'re around at the time. Players can even collect musical instruments and make music of their own together.

AC2 is shaping up to be quite an unforgettable experience despite the technical difficulties many customers have had since its release. These problems are inherent in such a large MMORPG\'s opening month. Hopefully server crashes and the like will be a thing of the past one day, but at present AC2 is not immune. As time passes, though, the kinks are getting worked out.

By all accounts Asheron\'s Call 2: Fallen Kings represents a distinct evolution from its predecessor. This title has been streamlined in order to better harness action and teamwork. This setup promises some big clashes and memorable moments. Exciting installments, like the addition of mounts, are already on the way. Turbine definitely has the experience and knowledge to really make AC2 shine in the future. That seems almost like a forgone conclusion, though, because this game is already rocks.