Light against Darkness, and Conflict over Gems and Stones: Review of Karos Online
What if the fate of your lead hero would literally collapse into an ash pile if the Dark Lord awakens? And furthermore, what if said Dark Lord would do likewise if he were eliminated? That's the premise of Karos Online, a free-to-play MMORPG with enough to compare to paid MMOs. But does it work out?
Introduction - Karos Online Review
Let's put this straight: what if the fate of your lead hero would literally collapse into an ash pile if the Lord of Darkness awakens? And furthermore, what if said Dark Lord would do likewise if he were conquered instead? And what if a pact that saved the hero of light from such a horrid fate led to an edict for the heroic side to capture all of the gems of extreme power to inhibit the growth of the forces of darkness, and a call to emplore a grand leader out of the one who puts an end to the dark forces once and for all?
That's the premise of Karos Online, which aims to be a hectic, class-based, free-to-play fantasy MMORPG with enough in the can to challenge even the biggest paid-access MMOs out there. But how does the game fare in this attempt? Time to dig in, and see what this **** is all about...
Graphics and Presentation
Like with 4Story, which I reviewed earlier in the month, Karos Online doesn't need a whole lot of oomph in the processing department. You do need Windows XP at a bare minimum, however (nothing else can hack it, unless it's Vista or Windows 7 and proper credentials are passed along when running the game). A Pentium 4 or equivalent at 1.4GHz or more is also a must, as is a GeForce 5600 or later and at least 512MB of RAM (though I would recommend a whole gigabyte of that s*** on a 64-bit processor). That said, Karos Online -- provided you have the necessary equipment -- can upscale all the way to 1920x1080 if you configure the game as such. That's maximum 1080p upscaling on a HDMI connection, folks -- good enough to maximize your game visuals on an HDTV if you, like myself, are using one for that purpose. This has a great effect on the scenery and environments, which are already vibrant and luscious to begin with; as for the enemies -- including some of the more bizarre ones -- well, they can be a real visual treat as you progress and discover even more of them. The environments also vary based on your location within the game world: tropical, forest, desert -- you name it, you'll find it.
Gameplay isn't as hot, unfortunately. While the standard WASD movement controls are in place, the A and D rotate the camera instead of moving you left and right -- very annoying bull****, I say. In fact, almost every single keyboard command is a real pain in the ***. The tilde symbol is your normal attack. F picks things up, instead of the more common Q key -- like in FPS games, for instance. Targeting enemies is also quite the chore in itself -- especially since the escape key is your constant attack mode trigger, and Z is the normal combat toggle mechanism. Why not use the tab key as a toggle -- like in Mabinogi, for instance? Oh, right -- it's the NPC-targeting aid.
And that's not even the half of it. While the Alt key does check which dropped item is which, C pulls your character stats, and K, G, L and I pull up the respective skill, guild, quest and inventory displays, everything else is a complete, ***damn mess. Even the E and Q keys don't make sense based on other types of games: they require the W and S keys in tandem, and only serve to move your fat *** at ****ing diagonals! Again, what the ****? This is one big pile of utter, mother****ing bull**** if I ever saw any! And forget the hotkey system -- it's equally ****ed up as well!!!
What really saves Karos Online from a single orb here (though not by much) is the ridiculously-easy mouse controls: click left to move, drag right to camera-focus, and double-click to slash, shoot and spell-cast the hell outta the opposition (or to activate NPC chat whenever necessary).
Challenge isn't any better, either. With every quest, you always get waypoint indicators -- making your objectives almost too easy. Plus, some quests aren't based on dropped items or how many beasts you kill: instead, these are entirely automatic and based on probability. Couldn't these unseen materials be part of your normal inventory? What the ***damn ****!? And besides that, you continuously attack enemies repeatedly to death... unless they or you move away first!
Also, even at the lower levels the HP amounts are way too generous so don't expect to be k.o.ed real easily. I would honestly expected a steeper difficulty curve, and I expect the only real challenge to be the ****ing boss encounters! 'Course, this may easily just be my test character from writing this review: the Blader, which fits my usual playing style, is as ridiculously easy as ****! There are other classes to play as, of course: these are divided into three pairs of racial specifics. My blader is human, as is the Paladin which is like a female blader with healing magic and defense-buffering capabilities. The male blader, though, is primarily melee and very weak in magic. Whoa.
Of the other two races, the Shadow people (which remind me of the Na'vi from Avatar, but with armor and a lighter skin color, among other differences) are divided into rouge and sorceress characters, respectively, and follow the same magic split as the other races. The one slight deviation is the half-elemental, elf-like Seroine race who are ranged-combat bowmistress characters and healers/melee-fighters as male mystics; otherwise, the magic split is the same. Ya got that **** down yet, bubba?
The one saving grace insofar as the gameplay elements is the community structure. You've got your standard guilds, a Mabinogi-like player-run shop component for selling unnecessary supplies for Carats (the standard gameplay currency), party forming to gather up partners for team assignments, etc. Fletta gems can be modeled for use to create items for yourself or other players, and certain equipment only applicable to specific player classes so trade and sales are encouraged somewhat in order to get your hands on the right that fits your character class. Plus, items created or obtained can be enchanted to further enhance them, but the item can be destroyed if the enchant fails so if you're doing one for yourself or another player, be sure that you do so wisely. And in the event you or anyone with you needs to retreat back to town, marking a remembrance stone and using a special gem sends you right back into the safety of a settlement quick as a flash (and literally at that).
Karos Online is a somewhat passable free-to-play MMORPG that could have used just a few more small adjustments prior to release. Despite the somewhat confusing keyboard commands and the ridiculously-easy fighting to at least some point, the game is otherwise solid-hard workable so it's easy enough for me to forgive at least a small handful of even the slightest faults. It's still a passable experience made up for in presentation and community features, but there are other, more solid opportunities that aren't nearly as confusing as this. Regardless of that, Karos Online is still a workable, if slightly faulty addition to the free-to-play scene that gamers with the right level of personal patience may be able to work efficiently with. For others, it's best to let your own fat *** be the judge prior to making a commitment.
Final rating: 3 of 5, classification: Average (about our ratings)