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May 24, 2009 in Sonic General
Not sure if anyone here has tried it, but hearing about the Sonic Fan MMO Sonic Arena 2 on The Sonic Show, I decided to give it a go for a few days. The following is a rather lengthy review regarding my experiences in it for anyone who was interested in it, and wanted to know what it's all about. Again, it's quite long (I rant a lot), so there's a Final Note on the bottom for those that want to skip the long post. I rant a lot because I can, not because I hate.
Okay. I install Sonic Arena 2 and load it up. Create an account, create a character: Race Fox; Name Mylo; and enter the world. And I get a black screen. Sigh, not even 5 minutes in and already I have a terminal issue preventing me from playing at all. Luckily a trip to the forums lead to the discovery that a reinstall may be in order. Reinstall complete, and now I can see (whoo!).
Finished up the starter quest, which immediately put you into contact with core canon characters such as Sonic, Tails, Shadow, Rouge, and Tikal (while not as core as the others, it's nice to see her included). Don't remember seeing Knuckles, but I might have overlooked him.
Okay, lets see what this world has. Can't wait to meet all the cool OC's that might exist (even if I do hate Mary Sue's, it takes some creativity), and have a party of varying sonic-verse races.
All I see is people wanting to be the best, screaming at each other to help them yet offering nothing in return, and questioning peoples sexuality when it's refused. In short, kids.
Yet they don't understand that no one cares about them being the best. They all want to be the first to do everything, to get recognition or, more likely, life-validation, from others. Yet everyone is vying for everyone else to care about them, and they don't care about others. Can you see the problem here?
Now, let me put the general mentality of the player base aside for the moment and talk about the technical aspects of the game. Mainly, the bugs, and general annoyances.
1) Hidden Walls of No Return
So I joined the game, created a Fox, and started playing. First thing I noticed was that it used some RPG maker software, so every item, player, etc, was placed in a grid. Each 'room' was exactly the same size as the others, much like the original Zelda game. Walking to the side of one room would slide you to the next. I noticed a few glitches with this. Some walls were codes as 'go to next area' for the entire length/width, yet the next area would have a tree or something along specific parts, preventing you from moving further, so you had to go back, run to a section you now know as clear, and run back.
The thing that confuses me is that not every wall is like this. So it's not just a limitation of what they can do. It's lazy programming. Some walls are coded so only certain sections take you to the next, and one particular wall I know of (in what is known as the forest maze) warps you back to the start if you enter a certain part, and lets you continue on in another section. "Wow, that's kinda cool," was my though when that happened. Then one particular nasty wall glitch disallowed me from moving anywhere - back, forward, or anything. So I was stuck, and the fox spell that teleports people had to limited a range to reach me - the area I was in had a level cap restriction, so anyone over level 10'ish couldn't get in to save me. Turns out there's a command to warp yourself to town in case of being stuck, but I learned that after getting all 3 of my characters stuck there in hopes of showing others how to get help me, and I had created a new account. This command wasn't listed in the help, and I have yet to see if it works (was given by a forum member).
2) Chat System
Okay, the chat layout has 4 sections. Guild, General, Default, and something else I can't remember. The Default lists everything that is said and done, guild, party, combat, item manipulation, global and area chat chat, etc. You can't alter any of the colors, font, or which messages appear in which window. This is a basic program, and they have limitations, so I'll accept that. However with the amount of spam that pops up in the default window due to combat, often times I miss a party invite, or several chat messages. I can't stress enough how annoying it is to have to scroll up a chat window that pushes itself back to the bottom every time more text is sent, in a vein attempt to read up on whatever message I missed, assuming I noticed missing a message with all the spam from monsters on the screen.
So why don't I just use the other chat channels? Because most of the stuff (party chat included) only shows up on the default channel, and nowhere else. So you're forced to live with all the trash that's said by others. Another thing of note is the default status to display word bubbles that take up 1/5 or more of your screen whenever someone in the same area as you says something, usually blocking both enemies and items until it goes away several seconds later - only for the perpetrator to shout more inane stuff with the caps lock setting perma-enabled. It's also really hard to tell what message is from whom, as several messages types share the same color.
Private messages come into their own window, which would be a really nice feature, except that every message from every person goes in the exact same window. And you have to manually select a players name from a drop down box to reply. Talking to two or more people at once often results in several mistells. And unless you closed the window, the drop down box doesn't auto-refresh when someone new messages you, so you'll auto-reply to the last person you were talking to. I know this is nitpicking, but it is annoying. And since there's a spam filter that prevents you from saying the same thing twice in a row, you have to make sure to reword your TLA's ever so slightly before retrying. I usually just add a period or something after it, or type gibberish in the main window then reply again, since the spam filter is really shitty and easy to work around. It makes me wonder why it's even there to begin with (probably some kid spamming I IZ COOL LIK SUPR SONIC AN U AINT LOLOL) over and over in main chat.
By default, your movement controls are the arrow keys which, as an FPS gamer, I find difficult/uncomfortable to use with the mouse. Fiddling with the options I found a way to switch it to the de facto WASD movement. Thing is, if you have this option turned on, you can't pick up any items. So you have to go into the options, uncheck WASD, save, pick up the items, go back into options and turn it back on. You have to do this <i>every time</i> you want to pick up an item! I eventually gave that up in favor of the inferior arrow key movement, which the game was designed for, since attack is control and pick up items is enter.
None of these keys can be rebound without using some OS related software. This wouldn't be an issue of the designated keys weren't poor choices to begin with. Having your enter key as pick up item is like making someone spit their food out before grabbing another chunk of salad with their fork. When you have the arrow keys enabled, chat is always on, so anything you type using alphanumeric keys goes in your chat window, and when you press enter, it's displayed for all to see (and consequently block their screens). Again, not a problem, because you don't have much need to hit any keys other than the arrows, function keys, ctrl, and enter. But if you like to multitask chat and playing at the same time, get ready to have some broken messages sent. I'd like to also not that shift is toggle run/walk. And it is NOT suspended when you start typing a message. So if you end your all lowercase message with a (?) question mark, your character is now in walk mode.
So many times I've found myself calmly walking away from mobs ripping apart my insides because they caught me mid-type, and I didn't want to send half a message. Every time you hit the shift key while typing, it toggles it. This is just shitty programming, and there's no way to circumvent it either. The only option you have is take off auto-run, which I assume means you need to hold down the shift key to run (standard movement is run in my book, who wants to walk slowly everywhere in a game?) I didn't try this option, so maybe it was the other way around, and was just worded like the kids that play this game would've done.
4) Quests and Leveling
To get a quest, you walk up to an NPC, hit control, and accept a quest if they have it and you're the right level. One quest per NPC, so once you've done it, you never need to talk to them again. Ever. The standard array of quest appears here: Get me x item, or get him x item AND x item, or get him 200 of x item, or to spice it up, give me all your hard earned rings for a ridiculously low amount of exp. Yeah. There really is no variety. No kill quests, just gather item quests or pay their rent quests (I'm 90% certain that was indeed one of the quests I did).
The quest rewards is another thing blatantly unbalanced with this game. You spend an hour or so grinding for these items, or trying to locate one of the items they want, only to be rewarded with about 10% of the exp you earned while fighting mobs. Seriously, I leveled several times over trying to get the 3000 rings Sonic wanted (probably to gamble with, seeing as he was in the casino, and wouldn't say what the rings were for), only to be rewarded with 1000exp. A level for me was roughly 10,000 exp. The only reason to do quests was because:
A) The rewards are often the only way to get anywhere off the starter area, generally a key, or
You spent a few hours grinding off of buzz bombers and crabby's just to get to level 10 so you could do the one or two quests that open up (only to finish them in 20 mins, and be back to grinding 5 more levels until the next 'epic' gathering or pan-handling quest could be unlocked).
Being an MMO, grinding is unavoidable. But in this case, you spend all your time in the first 6 or so screens fighting crabbys and buzz bombers, from level 1 to the level I quit (21'ish), simply because they give more exp per hour than fighting anything else. There is no regeneration, so if you can't heal you have to buy a crap-ton of potions (money from which needs to be funded from hunting low level stuff that can't hurt you, so you can actually make money), or stay at Tails' Inn (which takes a lot of time going back and forth every 3 mobs). Why did I grind so long? I really wanted to see what kind of stuff they had laid out for those 25 and above, to get a better feel for the game. Some sort of mass city, probably with 1 shopkeeper and enemies I'd be to low level to fight efficiently.
5) Class balance
In short, there is none.
Seriously, they didn't even try. I gave up my fox at level 4 (because I got him stuck in an Inn wall). Which I only got because a higher up was bored and decided to party me and level me. As a Fox, you can't win any fight at level 1. I mean that. Take the most worthless enemy, pit him up to me one-on-one, and I will die before does. Luckly, they have a spanner in the first monster populated area of the game, so if you die you can just go right back to fighting it while it's still damaged. You don't lose exp when you die (unless it's by a player, and starter zones are 'safe', so players can't damage each other).
So it takes some 750 exp to level. And I get 10 exp for every baby buzz bomber I kill every 2 deaths. Taking about 8 seconds to kill one. That's 10 minutes for level 2. Not to bad by MMO standards. But most other classes will attain it in a couple minutes of straight grinding. Since I can't fight anything outside of the starter area without dying, I'm limited to these baby buzz bombers and one adult (which will kill me 3 or 4 times before I take it down, it being the second weakest enemy and all) which yields 50 exp. Time taken for leveling ramps up greatly after the first few levels, since you'll be fighting the same mobs, and they'll eventually yield less and less exp as you go up, while the exp needed goes up and up.
I mean it when I say there is no class balance. Let me just jump into the thick of it. Chameleons are extremely overpowered, Fox's are the most underpowered class in the game. They are meant to be in a party, but the party command is bugged and limited to two people per party. And why would you want a weak fox when you could have another chameleon? Or anything but a fox? Yeah, good job there guys. Chameleons start with defense high enough that the 3 core enemies my echidna leveled up on can't even hurt them at level 1. So they never need to worry about dying or buying potions. Instead, they spend their money on Ninja Stars that fire at what seems a rate of 5 per second, killing anything and anyone before it even reaches them. Not that anything could do damage to them if they did reach them.
You get 1 stat point per level to raise your Defense, Strength, Magic, or Speed. Depending if your a caster or a physical attacker, you'll either end up putting all of your points into Strength and Defense, or Magic and Defense, never touching speed. I've heard tell you get 3 credits per level if you have a speed of 30, but that means you have to suffer through 20 levels of hell to make it worth it (assuming you're a class that starts with the high-end 10 speed, not the normal 5 or below). And 10 more levels to catch up.
I haven't touched most classes because I didn't try a lot of them.
Emohog (yeah, interesting choice of name there) - are Shadow clones, using chaos powers and guns.
Hedgehog - use shoes to kick people I guess.
Fox use magic to heal others and create potions at a slow rate, then keel over and die because your buddy didn't kill every single mob before one touched your frail body.
Echidna punch stuff hard (or would, if you weren't forced to put all your stat points into defense so you didn't die every 2 mobs).
Bat...I have no idea, guns and magic from the items I've seen.
Chameleons run through a map holding down the control button and killing everything within 2 squares of them, player and monster alike, while screaming obscenities if you happen to kill one of <i>their</i> mobs (which is clearly everything on whatever map their on). I hear they have magic, but I haven't seen one worried enough to bother using it.
Cats are you Blaze clone, using fire magic.
Who'm I missing? Oh yeah, Armadillo is like a Chameleon clone I think, but with a rail gun that shoots across the entire map (though that might also be bats).
Apologies go out to any anthropomorphic race I missed.
The only class balance I see is that a class takes more or less exp to level (at least the early levels) depending on how over/underpowered they are. Example: Chameleons take ~1500 exp to hit level 2 while foxes take ~750. Average is around 1000.
6) Personal Bubble
Most monsters can't be moved through, they are solid objects. Same as players, and some NPC's. Thing is, when a player or monster moves from one square to the next, you can then move through it, and it's the same for mobs moving through -or even onto- you. Now this is handy when you're trying to run though everything and survive, but when you're trying to attack something, it's downright annoying. You move up to an enemy to attack it, as it moves up to you, taking lag into account it moves one more square than it needed, landing onto you, where neither of you can attack each other. "That's fine" you think "I'll just move to the next square, turn around and attack it." Assuming it stays there (which it won't) you move away and turn around, expecting to be stopped by its solid form, only to find this one is glitched and corporeal, so you walk right back onto it.
There is no way to turn your character while standing still, so instead you try this again, and move 2 spaces away, then run back one space so you're facing the same direction. In this time, the mob has moved towards you one square and is now right on top of you again. SO you repeat it, this time moving three squares away, turning and just moving one square, waiting for it to come, only this time it moved away in a non-perpendicular direction and you're both currently scrambling around in a box circle trying to get a place where you can hit each other.
Eventually you give up, say "Screw it" move half-way across the map, turn and wait for him to come, then attack it when it gets near.
Thing is, while doing all the dancing around, monsters keep hitting you every time you brush up against them. Because, unlike players, mobs <i>can</i> turn on a dime, and are constantly hitting you so long as you're bordering them, even for an instant.
-When in the Tails Inn, the game talks to you as if the message is coming from the Tails Inn itself, not Tails. This also happens from the one shopkeeper in the starter marketplace.
-Sync issues have your character in a different place than what you see. You can die easily because of this. There is a sync button, but it doesn't always work, and it's on a 20 second refresh timer.
-Partying is bugged not only in two players max, but often times you need to relog or leave your non-existent party via chat command before you can accept a party invitation. Really, its more of a partnership than a party.
-Buying items is a hit and miss, since most don't come with a description as to if your class can use it. And they can't be sold back.
-Magic casters (excluding Fox) can't regain mana without dying or buying potions/resting at the Inn.
Around 30% of the crabbys you fight in the first 20 levels of your pitiful non-chameleon existence are the glitched 'corporeal' type.
-If you're not playing a chameleon, you're playing the game wrong.
-Extreme lack of equipment. My level 21 echidna still only had the Training Gloves, with no armor/helm/etc, and skin color change. I heard tell the level 25 city I wanted to see had better echidna stuff, but that would taken several more hours to get to, for probably a negligible increase in stats. (also, you lose everything if you die in a non safe area).
-You lose exp when a player kills you. A lot. And they gain it. You can lose until you are at 0exp of your current level. This has lead to people 'selling' their experience to other players, letting them kill them over and over in exchange for rings or other items.
-There is a Fox Spell that warps you to the Tails Inn. It cannot be resisted, and there is no prompt. -Because of this, there has been a ban from using it on players that don't agree with it. Honestly, they're trying to get a bunch of morally deficient kids to adhere to not griefing?
I learned you had to be level 6 to learn this spell the hard way. My last free char dropped the spell book to my fox stuck in the Inn wall, only to realize that I could not learn the spell, and now had all of my character stuck. The second was stuck showing someone how to get to where my fox was stuck.
If this is a TLDR for you, at least read this:
This game has potential, even though it's lacking in several areas. It's a fan game, so don't go expecting something up to WoW standards.
Questing - Very few quests, with horribly under-balanced rewards. But they exist.
Trade skills - They actually have one: Fishing.
Fellowships - Pointless to be an MMO without a proper party system. Current one is limited to 2 people. Exp sharing is balanced - you get all of your exp, plus half of theirs.
Audio - The sound effects are good. Though I can't stand hearing Shadows voice shout "Chaos" or "Chaos Control" every time you cast an emohog spell (after an hour sound usually glitches out and you have to relog to hear anything anyways). They have music from the game and I believe some original music too.
Player base - Well, I guess since most can afford the $15 for a professional MMO, this hasn't attracted anyone other than the poor teeny-boppers or die-hard Sonic fans looking for a new game.
The general feel was that it's still under construction, and in Beta. Most people are friendly, or at least don't let on they're only in it for themselves. I had the most fun when I finished a quest that gave me an item, which transported me to a cool looking temple with four boss rooms. A trial of sorts. The bosses were lame, but they layout was nice. This game is worth checking out for maybe 20 minutes. If you don't like it then, it's not going to get better anytime soon. I'll be willing to give it another shot in a few months, assuming they've pounded out a few bugs, fixed the class balance, and leveling to 25 wasn't such a horrible chore. Still, as is there's something appealing about it that makes me want to come back, that there are exciting quests, or great scripted events waiting to be seen once I hit a higher level. But given that the creators use "lol" and other internet jargon in the general NPC dialog, I think I'm holding them on to high a regard. Still, for a free fan game, I can't really ask for more than what I've gotten. It undoubtedly took them a <lot> of work to get to where they are now, and in no way am I expecting some sort of WoW killer out of this.
Didn't this game essentially kill nomorblue?
Sonic Chronicles just about managed to merge Sonic with the RPG genre because it wasn't such a 'traditional' or hardcore RPG. But this thing just sounds like a complete mess.
Agreed. Just about halfway through, I got confused. I'm not sure if that's just me though... hm.... Who knows?
This game was built by one person who knows nothing about making games (me), I think it is very apparent lol.
It's free though, gives something for 10 year olds to do.
Oh and you can turn around on the spot.
This game was built by one person who knows nothing about making games (me), I think it is very apparent lol.
It's free though, gives something for 10 year olds to do.
Oh and you can turn around on the spot.
End key on the keyboard for the win <3
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