Monday, May 14, 2012

Priston Tale 2, A "First Five" Review (My First 5 Impressions Of The First 5 Hours)

Some brief background on my tastes: I'm almost exclusively a console gamer. I hate dealing with changing system requirements and compatibility issues. I much prefer kicking back with a gamepad to crouching over a mouse and keyboard. I also dislike MMOs because some (used to be most, though fewer as time passes) charge monthly subscription fees and playing with numerous strangers means having to deal with people who just want to tick others off. (I'd rather pay for a game just the one time that's designed for me to enjoy without human nature screwing things up.)

Priston Tale 2 is a completely free to download and play MMO RPG, and since I generally avoid MMOs like the plague, it's also the first fantasy MMO I've ever tried. I'm an MMO noob. Even so, I dig fantasy RPGs, and I understand that some MMOs downplay the multi-player aspect and allow you to have a fairly solo experiene if you want. At least for awhile. So Priston Tale 2 was worth a try for me. Here are my first five impressions of my first five hours playing the game.

1. The visual design was very nice. It definitely comes from a Japanese game culture. Character models and the general look of the world have a bit of that anime quality to them, though not greatly so. If you're okay with the look of monsters in your average Final Fantasy game, you'll feel at home here. Otherwise some enemies may feel a little "cute" for your tastes. An additional minor complaint is that monster models are re-used a little too often. First you fight the green version of a monster. Then in another field, you fight the red one. (He's stronger than the green one.)

 2. Learning to play was a bit of a chore. Actually, a big chore. It's clear the game was not created by people who speak English as their first language. The in-game tutorial actually screwed up the functionality of my game, so I turned it off and referenced a series of videos they've made available to watch in-game instead. I also took a little extra time to see if the game could be played with a controller. (It's not designed for a controller, but using Joy2Key I still gave it a shot.) So your time adjusting to and learning the controls may be faster and easier than mine. There is still quite a bit about the various abilities and options in the game that I don't understand, but my ignorance doesn't seem to be hurting my experience much yet.

3. Gameplay is very much a fight-loot-upgrade affair. If all you want to do is go on a bunch of quests with just enough story to hold a string of monster fights together, you'll be happy here. So far, quests basically consist of "Can you go and kill this many monsters for me and bring me their ears so I can make a potion?" There are a few with stories going a little deeper, but this game is played for the point-and-click monster combat, which plays very simply and reminds me quite a bit of Neverwinter Nights.

4. The sound is alright. Nothing very memorable, except for the birds. I don't know why, but there is a chorus of noisy birds, a cacophany even, that fills the background almost like white noise as you travel the countryside. The music is nice, so I went into options to turn the background effects down. Nothing happened. The birds only turned down when i turned the music down. For some reason, they've got this aspect of background effects sharing the same track as the music. Wha?

5. The game's story is... not there. I have no idea what this game is about, who the big bad is, or even if their IS a big bad. As far as I can tell, everything in this world is peachy, except for the folks that need you to go and kill monsters for them now and then. There might be something about an empire or something. Can't remember if they're good or bad. Probably bad. That's usually how these things work. But the story will probably not be a draw for anyone.

Normally, one of the first things I pay attention to when discovering a new fantasy world is their theological/philosophical framework. While sci-fi tends toward naturalism and atheism, fantasy often leans toward polytheism and relativism. Whether game story writers intend it or not, their views often show up in their world and characters, sometimes going so far as to "force" players to adopt a philosophy in game that they wouldn't have in the real world.

Priston Tale 2 may have a wonderfully creative theology behind it, but due to the clunky translation and lack of engaging story, any potential theological back story for the world is literally "lost in translation".

Considering that the game is free, a somewhat mediocre final product is acceptable to me, especially if I'm just looking for a game to tide me over for a few weeks until something better comes along. If that describes your situation, give Priston Tale 2 a try. After a little bit of time spent pushing through the non-intuitive elements to figure out the basics, it does a nice job of scratching that fighting/looting itch with an enjoyable, if not diverse, visual presentation.

Quality: 7.0/10
Relevance: 5.0/10

System Requirements:
Pentium 4 - 1.8GHz
512mb RAM
Nvidia FX 5700
3 ~ 4GB or Higher Storage
Windows 2000 / XP / Vista / 7
Direct X 9.0 C or Later
Internet: Cable / DSL or Better

My System:
AMD Phenom(tm) II P650 Dual-Core Processor 2.60 GHz
4GB RAM AMD M880 with ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250
3.72 GB Storage
Windows 7
Direct X 11
Internet: Cable

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