After testing and reviewing so many types of MMORPGs, we realised that this genre is about creating your character, get into a whole new world of fantasy settings, molesting random mobs and completing verious Fedex quests, just to prove that you can be the greatest hero. Yes, this may sound a little cheesy, but hey, it works. This is the reason there are so many MMORPG players, and even more games to cater for the ever growing population of MMORPG players and budding heroes.
Usually, if you've noticed, many of the MMORPG games in Malaysia are from Korea. This time, we got to preview and take a peek at Pandora Saga, an MMORPG genre game all the way from Japan. When we think of Japanese games, we are reminded of Final Fantasy, with beautiful graphics, finely detailed armory, quirky races and breathtaking cut scenes. Well, Pandora Saga doesn't disappoint in that sense. It is definately filled with beautiful people, picturisque surroundings and detailed European architecture.
We were given a chance to preview Pandora Saga during the Pre-CBT period, which is approximately a week. Not enough time to get to the riduculasly high levels, but enough that we kind of have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
When logging in to the game, we were asked to register an account in MyRosso web portal. Ok. No problem there. Their email validation and feedback was pretty fast. Enough so I could login to the game in about a minute after registering for it. For those who are wary of getting their account hacked and losing epic drops and precious gold, good news. Pandora Saga will be using HackSafe to prevent your account from getting violated. However, that said protection program tend to take a little long to update itself, but that's probably the price to pay to keep your account safe from being hacked into.
Typically, we were greeted with the character generation screen. This is always the most fun part of playing an MMORPG. Each character that is created is your face. Unless you enjoy being ugly, blue and of unsightly proportions, it is only natural to create a character who is as beautiful as you think you are. We somehow think that being a bodacious babe in the virtual world has more gains, but that is just part of our quirkiness.
In Pandora Saga at this moment in time, you are able to create a character out of four different races; Human, Elf, Dwarf or Myrine. We were told that there will be other races available later, but for now, these are the choices given.
Humans are, well, humans. They're the all rounders that can be molded into any type of job class since they start off with reasonably balanced stats at the start. You can choose your human's gender; male or female. As for elves; what more can be said? They're high on agility and usually slender in size, lightfooted and quick in terms of intelligence. This choice of race also allows you to choose between being male or being female. Dwarves are strong and is only available as male; and Myrines are Amazon women-type of race. If you follow various myths, stories and folklore, Amazons are usually large boned women who are trained for battle. They are strong and yet at the same time agile. Well, the Myrines in Pandora Saga are like so. They somehow have wings behind their ears (for cosmetic purposes we assume since they can't fly) and are scantily clad, yet possessing muscles Stallone can only dream of. Myrines are a little on the grey side though, and we mean in terms of coloration. This race is only available as the females.
When it comes to how your character looks like, you have the choice of different facial structures, hair styles and hair coloration. This may seem too little to those who enjoy tweaking each part of their faces like a plastic surgeon in Nip/Tuck. Probably later on as the game gets new content, who knows? You might be able to buy the face of Michael Jackson with the body of Brad Pitt.
Okay. So you've gotten your physical appearance. Next, the type of job class. There is always the standard Melee, Ranged and Magic classes. So far, these are the choices for the first stage of job classes. There will be a job change later in the game, or so we were told.
Now that your character is done, don't forget to name him/her. You will then be transported to the starting town. When we were transported there, we were amazed at the sheer size of the town. The town itself has at least four different directions which in turn leads you to four different parts of town. Although each area has its merits, trying to get from the centre of the Neutral Territory to the outside of the town gates takes almost forever. So, our advice. Since you will be running from one place to another a lot, be sure to choose a character who's behind you would like to see since that will be what you will be looking at most of the time you're playing Pandora Saga. So far, we tested that the Myrine has a bootalicious behind that sways left and right while she runs; while the Elven girl runs in the typical anime-styled cute girl character. The male characters just swagger.
There is not much of a tutorial, but then again MMORPGs are pretty straightforward in terms of gameplay. You start off with various Fedex quests to get yourself acquainted with the controls and mechanics of the game. We were quite satisfied with the control system since most hot keys are customisable and navigating through maps can be down with the mouse or using the keyboard.
Frankly, running around town is a hassle and many quests requires you to go to different areas to get rid of different types of mobs. Hopefully there will be a mount or teleportation system which reduces the need to get from point A to point B by foot.
The time on Pandora Saga always fleets by, creating a day and night cycle. Some mobs only come out at either day or night so at times you have to sit around waiting for time to pass. Probably if there were more players, it would be fun since you are able to chat while waiting. While we were testing it however, there weren't enough players around to chat up.
Most mobs at the lower levels are mutated forms of insects and rodents. A maggot can be as big as your character; thankfully IRL they're not. Anyway, these mutants act like how they would IRL. For instance, we had to rid of some Live Ants (what a name. Haven't seen a Dead Ant yet. Or maybe Undead?). When we attacked one of them, the whole colony started chasing after us. It was horrific! Imagine having ants the size of a horse coming at you in swarms. Running is not an option when this happens unless you have AoE attacks. Well, so far all we encountered are mutants and no humanoids. Guess they saved humanoids as bosses since humanoids are suppose to have more brains than creepy crawlies.
At the time of testing, there weren't any chance to play around with crafting or fusion of weapons with gems. But this is a good idea since having the same weapon as everyone else doesn't make the game interesting. Since there is also a slot for materials, we assume that crafting your own weapon and gear shouldn't be an issue later on in the game.
One thing that made Pandora Saga beautiful is the cutscenes. Normally with any other MMORPGs, you just zone in to a new area and start exploring it. However, with Pandora Saga, each new area you discover for the first time shows a short cutscene of the area, letting you ooh and ahh at how beautiful the art is. Somehow the cutscenes reminded us of RPGs the likes of Final Fantasy where each new area has a cutscene paired with some intricate looking area name. At least in Pandora Saga, you only see this once when you first discover the area and not every other time or it will become a nuisance instead. We think it is cleverly done.
So far, we have not discovered any horrendous grammer in Pandora Saga. We understand how you would sometimes cringe at the sight of bad grammer, especially when games are translated from foreign languages. We hope that this standard of translation does not change as we move on to later stages of the game as it would marr the beautiful face of Pandora Saga.
The gameplay is simple and not too much grinding although we would be lying if we say that any MMORPG doesn't encourage you to grind to level. It would have been better if we could have tested the party system but there were just not enough players to do so.
Pandora Saga has not disappoint us so far, and looks pretty promising as far as MMORPG goes. We just hope that it does not become a grind fest and the community as well as the in game economy grows. Hopefully when Pandora Saga goes live, we will get to see how much it has grown.