Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pollen Birth - Fallen Earth Review

Note: This review is based more on the beginning portion of the game rather than the entirety of the game. Keep this in mind.

  Fallen Earth is post-apocalyptic MMORPG developed by Reloaded Productions and available both through the link and on Steam. You play the role of a clone in our bleak future (the clone thing is an excuse to let the player die as many times as they want without staying dead). Your goal is to do whatever anyone tells you to do, because this is an MMORPG. Taking quests and completing them for rewards is most of the game. When you aren't doing quests, you're farming something. Pretty run-of-the-mill. However, this game does have a couple things that separates it from other games on the market other than it's similarity to Fallout 3, so let's smoothly segue over to the right and wrong...

   Gameplay: Unique
   Fallen Earth plays like many other MMORPGs, except that you actually have to aim. You aim and fire your gun like in any other shooting game, but this game isn't separated into instanced dungeons and fields. No, here you get to roam as freely as you want, while shooting any unlucky zombie seen on the field in the face from the back of your steed. That alone makes this game worth looking at, since this is actually pretty impressive for a free game on the internet.
   Crafting: Streamlined
   Crafting is an extremely large part of the game, as shops only sell recipes, materials, and skills. To get new weapons and armor outside of quests, you need to craft it yourself. Crafting better things requires not only materials (which aren't hard to find), but also a certain degree of crafting skill. To get to that crafting skill for most categories, you have to craft things. Luckily, you can craft anywhere and at any time you please, and without ever having to stop. We can assume your clone can just craft things with psychic powers or something similar. Crafting requires a few minutes for each item to finish crafting, but the process does not hinder you in any way. It ends up being a way to farm numbers while you're already farming numbers. However, I appreciate that it isn't something I need to stop for, or go out of my way to do. No need to fear, though. If you hate crafting, you can always just buy everything from the in-game auction house.

I crafted this horse. I crafted this food. I probably even crafted myself.
   Mounts: Well Done
   Fallen Earth features an array of mounts and pets to make your adventure easier. The first few missions after the tutorial give you a free starter horse, and you can later craft a better horse. There are also vehicles you will get access to but that all serve the purpose of getting you places faster than normal. However, the game goes a bit farther than just speed. You can talk to people from your mount and depending on the weapon you are using, you can fire weapons from your mount, too. Not only that, but the game lets you have multiple mounts to keep in the duel stable/garage, so as long as you keep your horses fed and vehicle gassed (you do have to feed your horses and put gasoline in your vehicles), it's set up to have you sitting on a mount for most of the game. 

   Visuals: Look Closely
   Fallen Earth gives you the option to play in either first or third person. I played mostly in third person, so it wasn't for a while that I realized the visuals were actually quite nice looking. When zoomed out it's harder to see, but upon zooming in...
Okay, bad example.
   Upon closer inspection, the textures and details on the monsters and environments are pretty well done for a free game. In fact, because of this, normally I'd tell you to play through on first person immediately if you ever play this game, but here's where we get into the...

   First-Person: Ridiculous
   Almost every animation looks so much better in third-person view that first-person view seems almost like an afterthought. For guns, this isn't too bad, but for melee weapons this is extremely noticeable. Unlike the 2-3 swing animations in third-person, there is only 1 swing animation in first-person and half the time it doesn't even activate, leaving you looking at the enemy taking damage even though you never moved. Other animations, such as crouching, resting, and scavenging aren't smooth in first-person and for the most part don't even show up. If you opt to stay in first-person anyway, you will be witness to some nice eye candy, but at the expense of having your screen awkwardly spike downwards every time you go to gather something.

   HUD: Clunky
   While functional, the heads-up display can be a bit clunky at times. You can see this just starting from the customization screen.
These guys really loved the color brown.
   However, this is more of a subjective issue, so it's probably not something most people would have a problem with. For me, some things were a bit difficult to read, and I had to go through and click almost all of the buttons just to see what they do. It's something that led me to my final point.

   Tutorial: Terrible
   The tutorial section of this game is pretty bad. It doesn't explain a lot, and at the same time isn't much fun. By the end of it, I was overwhelmed and had no idea what I was doing except accepting quests from NPCs. I ended up having to rely on the Help chat and intuition for the more vital info, which was a harsh way to start off the game. Near the end of the tutorial, the game showers you in "training" skills, which are a host of low-level skills you are given at the beginning of the game that go away once you hit lvl 15. The skills are meant to be a preview to skills that you can try out without spending points to look at them for the first time later. While this mechanic by itself is helpful, the lack of timing or build-up only served to confuse me further, which was frustrating at the start.

   Final Score: 3 out of 5

   Once you get into the swing of things and get your mount, the game becomes significantly more fun. But then you start to marvel at how easy the game is. PvP is an option if you feel like getting you, your pet, and your mount killed, but I'm not that suicidal. Many games that start off this easy become harder later on, but as you have the ability to headshot enemies (even with melee), it seems a lot of the difficulty of the game depends on you getting swarmed or having no accuracy. With the addition of "mutations" (magic), it becomes hard to die if you're being careful. Overall, I'm happy to say the game wasn't grueling. Just boring.

   Extra Things to Know
   - The game is very morbid. Expect quite a few downers.
   - The hit detection for enemies is very exact. If you're off even by a centimeter, you completely miss.
   - Help chat is available in the game to help with any problems you have. However, it's also the default chat, so make sure to switch off of it if you want to talk someone who's actually near you.
   - AP is gained in place of both stat and skill points. There's a lot to go around but you may end up screwed later if you spread out your stats too much.
   - Don't expect anything too flashy. Most of the skills are meant for just buffing you, and are underwhelming to look at.

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