Aion aims to fly to the top of the MMORPG rankings

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Look out World of Warcraft; here comes another new MMORPG with its goal set to knock off the king of online fantasy gaming; and while WoW’s established base, entrenched name recognition and savvy marketing may be too much for any new game to overcome, Aion could take a sizeable bite out of the WoW apple.

Aion, with its state-of-the-art graphics; emphasis on flight as both a form of mobility and a tactic in combat; and unique elements, like RvRvE (realm vs. realm vs. environment), is officially the most anticipated MMORPG since, well, World of Warcraft.

Due to arrive in late September, Aion is “. . . a visually stunning massively multiplayer online RPG where you ascend to divinity and fight in an epic celestial war. Wielding divine powers and the capability for true flight, you must bring salvation to your people and restore balance to a vast, beautiful world shattered by cataclysm,” according to NCSoft, developer of Aion and a number of other very successful Online Games, including Guild Wars, Lineage and City of Heroes.

The basic theme of the game is, on the surface, fairly standard stuff. A world has been sundered in two and the inhabitants of each half-world blame each other for the catastrophe. The Elyos, a beautiful race of light angelic-like beings loath their opposite number, the dark winged Asmodians, whose hatred of the Eloyes runs equally deep.

In the middle of the divided world lies the Abyss, a dangerous world of its own and home to the chaotic evil know as the Balaur. Both the Eloyes and Asmodians believe that by surviving the rift between the two worlds and conquering the enemy race, the world as they once knew it will become whole once again.

While the Elyos and their Tower of Light and the Asmodians and their Tower of Darkness seem to be metaphors for angels and devils, good and evil and/or heaven and hell, that isn’t really the case. Their appearances came about as evolutionary changes necessitated by their environment. The only true evil is the Balaur, who inhabit the Abyss.

Realm vs. Realm play comes into effect when the Eloyes battle the Asmodians. Realm vs. Environment takes place when the Balaur show up in the Abyss. The thing about the chaotic Balaur that adds so much to the game itself is that the Balaur will sometimes aid one side and sometimes the other. Then again, the Balaur might show up in such numbers that the Elyoss and Asmodians have to put aside their enmity and join forces against the Balaur.

NCSoft will be using the CryEngine, immersive 3D graphic system to bring unprecedented realism, physics and graphic details to what promises to be, if nothing else, probably the most beautiful MMORPG ever to grace a monitor or television screen. Those of you who are familiar with the popular first-person shooter, Far Cry, have already gotten a taste of the amazing world that can be created via the CryEngine, umm, engine!

Aion, though, if far more than just flash. According to Beta Tester Mark Dunmire, “This is the game that will lure sizeable numbers from WoW.” Dunmire, a longtime player of MMORPGs, has maxed out toons in WoW, Age of Conan, Warhammer and several other online games, so he knows of what he speaks.
“I’ve been in the Aion beta since its inception; and I have to tell you, it has captured me like no other game I’ve played. It’s stunning visually but the depth of the story, and the sense of never quite knowing what you’re getting into when you fly into the Abyss makes every play session a fresh experience.”

Mark also pointed out that unlike many MMORPG releases that are plagued by bugs, Aion should arrive with a high degree of polish on it. “Aion has been around for several years in Korea and most of the bugs have already been fixed. The game is being ‘Westernized’ but it should be an incredibly smooth release. It’s darn near perfect in Beta.”

Unquestionably, Aion will have its share of naysayers, will be similar to MMORPGs that have preceded it, have classes that feel a bit too familiar, etc. However, its look and its focus promise to deliver more substance than mere hype. Prepare to ascend and earn your wings; then fly into the Abyss!

By James Trunzo


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