by: William Usher
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 5/25/2012
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IGG's latest game is a visual feast for the eyes that focuses on mount-based combat and capturing mythical beast in a medieval fantasy setting.
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It's Not Just Another Three Kingdoms MMO...
IGG seems to have as many MMOs coming out of the woodworks each year as Tiger Woods had mistresses; and that's a heck of a lot of MMOs. Nevertheless, some of the games they publish through their free-to-play web portal are actually quite decent and worth the time of day, such as 2029 Online. One of the latest imports is the Chinese-themed MMO, Tales of Fantasy. The game, surprisingly, doesn’t venture into the Three Kingdoms territory but instead focuses on semi-realistic combat and mount capturing.
Yes, the prime focal point of Tales of Fantasy revolves around mounts and fighting while on the mounts. Given that the game is still undergoing stress tests and feature testing it really wouldn’t be fair to release a review, but that doesn’t mean gamers can’t find out what the game is all about in this hands-on preview.
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Mount-Based Combat Fuels The Concept
It’s rare that combat, right from the start of the game, centers around players hopping onto a mount and downing groves of bad guys and mobs. Usually things start off quite light in most MMORPGs where you reach level 15 or 20 and then become eligible for riding around on a horse or getting a flying board, sort of like in Fly for Fun. However, after creating a character from the limited but acceptable options (i.e., hair, face and two body builds for each gender), players will perform basic tutorial quests up until level 6 and then receive a mount. Yeah, after that the mount becomes part of the entire experience from then on.
Now there’s a lot to cover in Tales of Fantasy so I’ll start first with the combat: The game’s fighting system plays out very much like any other MMO, with skills placed within a quick menu and available for use after their designated cool-down. The animations, when not on a mount, look fairly decent and are all standard-fare.
When on a mount, the characters can still fight and execute skills as easily as when standing on the ground. Now the one thing I noticed – and I’m not sure if this will be fixed anytime soon – is that the fighting animations for swords, staffs and clubs while on a mount look kind of funny and awkward. Some of the skills still behave the same but other skills look odd while mounted. The bows and crossbows have cool animations while riding a mount, though and players can easily move around to position themselves better when using ranged weapons.
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Grind Heavy Quests
In the early goings of the game much of it consists of grinding. This isn’t too bad but hopefully things switch up some more heading in to the mid-double digit levels. For the most part, though, the questing is fairly easy and making cash is a breeze given the amount of items that drop and the variety of items that drop. Added to this, since the crafting system is so viably proficient, there’s no reason early on to buy weapons or armor, since it’s best to just craft the needed items. I’m curious how well this is going to work for the higher levels and the auction or consignment house.
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Lots Of Content To Look Forward To
I didn’t think it was possible, but the early goings of Tales of Fantasy actually throws a lot at players…so much so that some of it can be overwhelming. Although, I don't believe it's quite as overwhelming as Fallen Earth. There are various forms of refining, item enhancement, soul gems for character enhancement, crafting, compound evolving and more. There’s just a lot present in Tales of Fantasy and that’s definitely a good thing.
One important feature worth noting is that crafting starts very early on in the game and actually took me by surprise. It’s especially easy to craft in Tales of Fantasy and making high level equipment while still a low level is an encouraged possibility, it only takes a little time and a lot of scavenging. Crafting is also necessary for those who would prefer specializing in bows or ranged weapons given that it’s easy to run out of arrows and oftentimes it’s essential to craft extra arrows while out on the field.
Another thing that I thought was unique is that characters can evolve drastically every 10 levels using the soul gems. This takes the entire cache of the player’ equipped items away while adding to the player stats drastically. It’s a give and take sort of feature that adds a unique twist to character development. And much like Red Cliff and their Title bonuses, Tales of Fantasy also sports Titles that can be earned by completing specific quests or just performing simple tasks regularly.
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Martial Empires Gets A Visual Rival
The one other feature that also had me very impressed with Tales of Fantasy was how beautiful the game looked and how smooth it ran. The developers really put time into streamlining the gameplay smoothness versus the graphical output so that players using a two-year old PC or laptop can still get some decent visual output from Tales of Fantasy without losing a lot of performance in the playability factors.
You could say that Tales of Fantasy features graphical qualities equivalent to the upcoming Gamigo medieval-fantasy title, Martial Empires. For now, though, I’d have to give a slight performance edge to Tales of Fantasy just because for as good as it looks it still manages to run very smoothly.
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Tales Worth Telling
There are some minor glitches and gameplay quirks that need to be adjusted, just like any other MMO in closed-beta, but what’s there shows a lot of potential, especially with the various mounts and the ability to capture them at higher levels. For now, Tales of Fantasy appears to be on the right track for being a good niche MMORPG within the free-to-play arena. Hopefully, in upcoming patches they can iron out some of the animations to look a bit smoother during combat (while mounted) but otherwise the game has a good vibe going for it.