Lineage II: The Chaotic Chronicle - Review Revisited

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Publisher: NCsoft
Developer: NCsoft

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium III 800 MHz, 256 MB RAM, GeForce 2 class video card with 32MB VRAM, 2.2 GB hard drive space, DirectX 8.1, Windows 98 or more recent operating system (But you're going to want much better stuff than this to run it for real)

The original Lineage may well have been the world's most-played MMOG, but you wouldn't have known it from the North American numbers. Lineage II: The Chaotic Chronicle, however, appears to have made some genuine inroads. City of Heroes may be a bigger hit in the West, but there appears to be a solid audience for the old sword-and-shield treatment.

Rating:  (unchanged from the original review)
Rob de los Reyes

MMOGs never sit still. Small fixes and changes slide seamlessly (it's hoped) into the ongoing gameplay experience, often without the player ever knowing they've been made. Other times, more substantial changes are made, even heralded to the player well in advance – subscribe for another month, dear gamer, and we'll build you a new dungeon! Lineage II is no different than the rest of its genre in this regard, so we thought we might check back in to see what's changed (or remained the same) since our initial review from the end of May.

Far and away the largest change since our first review is the addition of castle sieges and castle ownership. Trumpeted from the start (indeed on the game packaging) as Lineage II's defining feature, siege warfare was not implemented until the launch of Chronicle I, the first and so far only major content update since Lineage II first hit shelves. It seems a cynical ploy to have held back such a feature until well after early adopters had finished their included thirty-days of gameplay, but those who have slogged through the early levels of Lineage II's character and guild development know that no one was in a position to mount a siege within those first thirty days anyway.

This is because, like most of the things that make Lineage II unique and interesting, siege warfare is a game for large, hardcore clans. Unlike Shadowbane, where assaults on towns are an anytime, anyplace affair, castle sieges in Lineage II are regimented affairs. Only guilds of a certain advanced level may contest the control of a castle, and siege times are set days in advance of the actual event. The key virtue of such a system is that you needn't worry that you'll go to sleep in control of a castle only to wake up the next morning to find it in someone else's hands. On the other hand, it means you'll need to schedule your life around the game rather than the other way around. Sieges are almost exclusively weekend affairs, and it's rare (so far) to find more than one siege per server per weekend.

The good news is that the sieges work. Clans have taken castles and started to enjoy the control over the game world that comes with ownership. But don't expect the fluid combat of an online shooter. Like other games in the genre, large group combat stresses even top-of-the-line gaming rigs, and brings everything else to a near halt.

As you might expect, Chronicle I also brought a host of new monsters, quests and items mostly aimed at mid- and upper-level characters. If you've been playing since launch, your character is well into his late career, and you've discovered that there is life after the early slog. By mid-game, your character has a fairly hefty array of skills and attacks to spice up the familiar player-vs-monster-gimme-gold-gimme-xp cycle. A low-level spellcaster, for example, will spend many, many hours by himself casting a spell and running away until a monster dies. By the middle levels, though, grouping becomes more common and the wider spell selection gives the caster genuine tactical choices even when hunting solo.

All told, Lineage II remains much the same experience it did at launch. There's more "stuff" in the gameworld, and the upper-level game – siege warfare – has arrived not a moment too soon. What has not changed is that Lineage II appeals to a fairly specific palate. If you have the time and patience to research the unwritten game rules, the time and patience to grind through the early game, and a sizable clan to back you up, Lineage II offers some game mechanics you just won't find elsewhere. Unless you work on the weekends. In which case, Lineage II is mostly a prettier version of the MMOGs you've been playing all along.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on August 18, 2004 5:02 PM.

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