OSG1

Review: Atlantica Online

Back to Breasts. Er, basics. The latter is my approach to Atlantica Online: this is one title that will have you howling with old-school strategy gaming bliss. I’m talking gasmstatus. Ndoors, the developer of this title have taken the best in turn-based combat tactics, threw in some deliciously mystical fantasy questing and sprinkled in just the right amount of PvP to keep mainstream, old school strategy players mostly thrilled. I played past twenty hours, which is rare for me. Read on for Micah’s take on Atlantica online.

I’m going to jump right in: we’re in Atlantis. Yes, that Atlantis. You, dear player, are a direct descendant of the original Atlantians, who were destroyed centuries earlier due to greed, lust (typical stuff) as a result of losing control of their magical powers, which were generated by a celestial substance your ancestors originally created called Oriharukon. Still with me? When this substance was used, abused and run dry, the original Atlantians disappeared with them (it’s all very political and preachy in a way – global warming anyone?). Flash forward to present day: remnants of Oriharukon are still lingering on Earth, and over time have become a threat to Earth’s current inhabitants (indirectly, to you and everyone you love) – remember, Atlantis was a part of Earth, situated within Earth’s planetary boundaries. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to strategically travel throughout Earth, both space and time, to seek out and ultimately discover what happened to your ancestors’ home, your true home, Atlantis. It’s thick, but oh so juicy.

Korean MMORPG juggernaut Ndoors Corp (owned by Nexon Corp – don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of them either) has been developing online strategy and role playing titles in Seoul since the late ’90s, but as of October 2008, its pinnacle has been Atlantica Online. As I mentioned in the intro, I played this game for at least 20 hours before I had to sit down and write this review, and it’s easy to describe why: the nuts and bolts of this game are tried and true, polished and fun as fuck to play with. The strategical combat system is purely turn-based, which old school OSG junkies will probably love, especially if they grew up on RPG titles like the Final Fantasy series as I did. Player will move in a party, which is a big advantage for being able to hone certain members of your party for certain offensive or defensive specialties.

Battles occur as player progresses along the map’s grid in typical RPG fashion, while your offensive and defensive moves depend on your strategy. The mercenary system highlighted this, and works better than I had expected: after about four hours, I’d gotten a solid grip on how to strategically choose who I wanted to add into my party as mercenary and how they could help me achieve certain offensive objectives. As you play, you’ll gain increasing access to (up to) 8 mercenaries in your party that can either rely on you for each directive or can decide on their own. A cool feature of the game core is that these mercenaries will learn as time goes on how you battle, and will change and grow with you as a player. For example, my main heavy hitter Jeckt (don’t laugh) began to target magical strongmen in my offensive line after about three hours worth of consistently going after these types of enemy, without any customization needed on my part. It was purely automatic. To me, this made my job less fussy and allowed me to spend my time actually progressing rather than tweaking through endless menus and subsystems. Well done. Every member of your party is given a predetermined stamina level (I never figured out how exactly the system decides this), and as said mercenary progresses offensively and defensively, they will level up and earn experience points / goods for every foe he rips apart. Every battle reduces mercenary stamina slightly, but I never ran into an issue of total-party-death unless I was ill prepared for a certain foe / monster. The game strikes a healthy balance between starting each member off with 100 exp points / HP that allows you to train without being too easy or difficult to get your mercenary party off the ground.

It all plays out on a 3×3 grid (see image above), which can be customized during battle with regards to character placement. PVP options are sort of limited, I didn’t play around with it too much, but if you are into that sort of thing, Atlantica Online has a system for determining opponents of similar strength for auto-pairing into battles, and a league offshoot for leveling up. I tried it out, it works, but I’m not a PVP dude myself, and lost interest in about half an hour. First downside of the title, for PVP fans. The quests sort of suck (which is something I found other players agree with on the forums and group hubs for Atlantica Online). These basically are pre-routed conquest missions that are not necessary in your MO of finding Atlantis, and the auto-guide popups basically complete the mission for any idiot capable of reading and following along with the on-screen prompts. Very lame, but as the quests aren’t a major piece of the game, I’m not overtly bothered by it.

I have to preface my graphic summary with the fact that I just bought a new laptop with a discreet Nvidia GeForce GT 650M card (primarily for playing and reviewing titles here at OSG1) – so my graphical-crunching capabilities may be over the typical gamers – but everything was quite smooth and pretty to look at in Atlantica Online. The images on screen are not nearly as detailed or drool-worthy as, say, Oil Rush for example, it’s simply a matter of resolution – but this may have been done on purpose by Ndoors. Less-capable machines will choke on heavily-fortified games with HD resolution (except for mine, bitches!). This game, though certainly no slouch, didn’t choke my older 2009 Macbook Pro (Windows partition) which lends me to recommend this game for most people, not only those with highly capable machines. The in-game music was also very layered and detailed, most definitely scored by a pro. Unless you truly detest turn-based party titles (which blend strategy and role playing in a decidedly balanced compromise), Atlantica Online offers a superbly well-rounded battle system and visual sprawl that I came back to again and again and again. The battle system is easy to understand but challenging as you progress through different cities, countries, and ages in time, the fantasy elements of Atlantis and finding your homeland are an RPG fan’s dream, and landscapes change enough to keep double-and-triple digit hour gameplay unique and fun. Game on, OSG1’ers!

                                                                                 

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