Previews// Aion: Tower of Eternity

Posted 14 Aug 2008 18:04 by
On the hottest day in the history of hot days (in England. Aussie Ed) ever I trudged wearily up to the NCSoft offices (pretty much the home of MMO gaming in the UK) to take a peek at Aion: Tower of Eternity, the company's upcoming... well, MMO. Despite the fact that the J2O was warm, and sweat was dripping from places I didn't know had pores, I was pleasantly surprised by the elegant game that awaited me...

The first thing that sets Tower of Eternity apart from its MMO brethren is the fact that for some funny old reason the planet it's set on, Atreia, is hollow. So, when I say 'on' what I really mean is 'in'. I know, I know, it's not very practical. How would day and night cycles work? If you could fly to the central point, wouldn't you be held in place by equal gravitational forces? How would all the UFOs get in to mess up your crops and stick probes up the anuses of the bovine inhabitants? What about that sunlight stuff? Wouldn't everyone get SAD? All very valid questions.

Fortunately, none of them are much of an issue any more, since a great big war broke the planet in two, leaving the world as two great big bowls. Egads yes! broken right in half! That's a battle and two thirds.

Worse still, the Tower of Eternity, built by Aion, guardian of the world, has been AWOL ever since that great battle. While the sundering of the planet might seem like bad news for the inhabitants of Atreia (and you'd think for their atmosphere) it does make for an intriguing backdrop for Tower of Eternity.

So, on the one hand you have the Elyos, real pretty folk who got the nice half of the world you know, the one that catches the sun (is anyone else reminded of battles over bedrooms in university houses?). They're lovely to look at and a bit elven in appearance, but being beautiful has also made them arrogant.

Then you have the Asmodians, the bunch who got the raw deal. They have to put up with living mostly in darkness and they've grown up a bit feral they have claws, manes and other animal-like features. But they're nice with it!

These two races are the chaps you can expect to play with. NCSoft has bundled in oodles of customisation options for the game. As I watched the character sliders in action the character's face and body seemed to shift in every which direction, making me a little dizzy. Similarly, there are tonnes of different armour in which to adorn your character. It doesn't look like Tower of Eternity will be one of those MMOs that instils about as much difference in its characters as the gemo kids outside your nearest shopping centre.

You've got four classes to go at. They won't surprise you: you've got your tough-as-nails, tank of a Warrior; your nimble, speedy Scout; your magic-wielding Mage, and your life-giving Priest. What does make things a bit more interesting is the Stigma System. This makes the abilities of other classes available to your avatar. They're enabled by visiting trainers and there are five slots available for the stones that grant the abilities. Thinking you're up against a Warrior, only to be walloped by an airy-fairy, knock-you-right-off-your-feet spell from a Mage could really mess you up.

So, you've got these two races lurking in splendid isolation. For ages neither race knew the other survived, but when portals start popping up at the Abyss the two races promptly go to war. Because... the other lot was there, really.

The Abyss is the bit in the middle. It's where numerous shards of the Tower wound up floating around. It's also where the Balaur, a race that's been MIA since the great battle, have been lurking.
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