Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hey! This Thing's Sticky! : City of Steam

Contrary to whatever plans I might have had, I spent most of the afternoon playing City of Steam. Just as I remember from the Sneak Peak, it's a disturbingly compulsive experience. Only the knowledge that nothing I'm doing will count for anything long-term gives me sufficient leverage to disengage. Well, that and a strong desire to get back to The Secret World.

If only I could swim...
Anyone still harboring a prejudice against browser games ought to take a look at this one. It uses the Unity engine, with which I've had problems in the past, but which here performs impeccably. From password to play takes but a moment and once there you might be in any client-based MMO. Sure beats the customary multi-gigabyte download, especially when it comes to short-term testing.

Think of the scrap value alone
Leveling proceeds at a satisfyingly stately pace. After several hours my Warden is a shade into level eight. One thing I'm glad to see changed from last time around is the experience you get from killing mobs. In Sneak Peak it was exceedingly tiny, making questing obligatory, a mechanism I abhor. This time progressing just by exploring and hunting feels comfortable. Quests add direction, purpose and flavor, as they should. And a nice little reward at the end, naturally.

Nowhere near as cute as they look
As a Warden in heavy, albeit rusted and worn, armor, most fights seem exceptionally unchallenging. Whether this is due to untuned alpha content, my current lowly level or an indication of intended gameplay is hard to say. Death comes infrequently, usually when the mob I'm chasing flees around a corner, where half a dozen of his chums are lying in wait. Mobs here really love to run and dodge and the otherwise-welcome combat autofollow can get you into trouble sometimes.

The fights themselves last seconds. Sometimes not as long as that. Coin and loot flies out of the falling bodies like clowns from a clown car. It's very much the action rpg that way, but the sparse and well-considered mob placement I liked back in Sneak Peak remains, allowing an unaction-like tactical pace. It's an odd combination but for me it works very well indeed.

The new Abilities tree is elegant and easy to follow, although I foresee that the usual complications and decision making dilemmas will surface before long, what with points to spend in Judgment, Leadership and Duty and options in all of them for both skills and buffs. Blast these developers and their expectations of our intellectual capacity!

Hmm. Dog walker wanted.
There's a plethora of places to explore and a variety of locales from sewers and crypts to open coastland and the inside of houses. There's plenty to do in the city too. Each district seems to have a Dungeoneer, a Hunter, a Historian, a Trophy Seeker and a Ranger and all of them have ideas about how you should be spending your time. The helpful Quest Board (needs a less generic name, I can't but think) brings this to your attention and autoruns you where you need to go in the same innovative and immersive fashion as the signposts.

City of Steam has quite a few wrinkles like this, new twists of the old rope. The Trophy Seeker in Meluan's Gate, who wants you to find eight Trow Trophies, for example, actually has an example of a Trow Trophy on the floor next to him so you at least know what you're looking for. I also appreciated the way the corpses of the creatures you kill lie around indefinitely so you can admire your handicraft and use them as landmarks. Also worth mentioning, this has to be the only MMO I've ever played that has both Elves and indoor plumbing.

British developers? Check.
There are quite a few bugs showing up, as you'd expect in an alpha, but all in all it's eminently playable. So much so that I think I might go and play it a little more right now. I just need an altigrator and a chem cell and I can fix my cousin's re-canter, and you know how important that's got to be.

1 comment:

  1. I played this game before. It's not the best MMO but it's still good. The music was really good and I like how the game gives you free stuff just by playing.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide