Asheron’s Call 2: Legions
You need to have guts to release a MMORPG in times where World of Warcraft, Everquest 2 and Guild Wars are ruling the scene. Codemasters did it with Legions, an expansion for Asheron’s Call 2. Was this a smart move or not?
Officially, the game isn’t an expansion but the next part in the Asheron’s Call series. Completely understandable also seeing that you get the original Asheron’s Call 2: Fallen Kings as well, along with a new month of free online gaming. That means that not only current AC2 gamers start on a new challenge, but also noobies.
Since I had never played an AC game, I count myself to the second category. Filled with good intentions, I threw myself at the game and went through the tutorial missions. First point of criticism: although you can use different fixed keyboard setups, everything feels a bit off. It’s not like in WoW that you and your character feel like one, at least that’s how it felt to me.
During installation you can choose for an extra option: ultra high resolution graphics! With such a bold name you can’t do anything wrong, but you need at least a 3Ghz cpu and 1Gb ram to be able to use this… meaning that yours truly couldn’t use the option. *sniff*
Luckily, I was able to set all standard options to maximum quality which resulted in me being able to give a decent idea of the graphical quality of the engine. A year and a half ago, the in-game graphics were top when it came to MMOG’s, now they’re a bit oldfashioned though. Maybe this game can still compete with WoW and Guild Wars when you insall the extra texture pack, but without that, everything looks a bit empty and deserted…
Now we also get to the biggest downpoint of the game: the emptyness. Since WoW, EQ2 and Guild Wars take away most of the new gamers, AC2: Legions remains with the current and former players of the game. These log in with their existing account and are already at level 50 or higher. I noticed that there are very little gamers who don’t already have a high level character on their account.
For me there was no other choice than doing almost all my quests and discoveries alone. Sometimes a would see a character with an equal level passing me by, but most of the time he would have a level 62 magician of level 45 crafter as main character. After wandering around for 8 hours in Arwic, Crafstone and Lost Wish I saw about 5 other human players and when going from the chat, there were only about a hundred players online.
That’s way too little for a massive multiplayer RPG, but it’s understandable due to the hype surrounding the other games I’ve mentioned above which comes in contrast with the relative silence surrounding the release of AC2: Legions…
What does need to be said is that you’ll be very much helped (financially and sportively) by the experienced players, I immediately got a mentor on top of me. About all elements of the game are identical to the original, so they’re not really an issue for this review.
So, what is new about this one? There’s a completely new continent added so that there’s about one third more moving space for the players. This also comes with 100 new quests, both for low and high level characters. As third renewing there’s the addition of 2 new races. You won’t only be able to choose between Lugians, the Humans and the Tumeroks, but also the Empyraens.
Later on you can also unlock the race of the Drudges (earlier in the game the sworn enemy of your alias) and play with them. Last up, the Hero System has undergone some changes so that heroes (available from level 45) can learn new abilities, spells and items.
And then I would almost forget about the sound… Probably because the makers almost forgot about it themselves as well! During fights you won’t hear anything except for the howling of a dying animal, the background music doesn’t really come in and if you’re very lucky you may hear yourself walk, but this is very rare. It’s so bad that at one time I changed my soundcard to see whether there was anything wrong with my hardware, sadly enough for the sound score below, everything worked perfectly.
My conclusion for Asheron’s Call 2: Legions? Seeing that you get the original game along with the expansion, you should see it as a full title, just like WoW or Guild Wars. In that case I would rather be drawn to those other ones seeing that there are a lot more beginners present to hang out with. If you see it as an expansion things clear up a bit for the final score as new quests, abilities and playable races are – in combination with renewed graphics – everything a current AC2 player wants. Not?