Through the good-natured assistance of one of the members of the Kill Ten Rats blog, I managed to get myself into Lord of the Rings Online as a Founding member's referral. Before anything else, I'd like to thank Ethic for his graciousness in helping a fellow gamer out.
The impressions are below. Just note that I'm making comparisons as I go along, so please be informed that it is not my intention to bash another game, but to reference it for my own explanation.
Impressions of Gameplay/Combat:
Now, I've played a couple of MMOs in my time, with each one having their own set of good and bad points, but this is the first time where I've found a MMO that, I feel, combines the good points of another game and adapts it for use in its own world.
I find this little nugget of adaptation everytime I play my Warden (who is currently Level 16). It seems that the Warden, which, if my mental timeline serves me right, came out after Age of Conan, took the one good thing out of AOC and adapted it to great effect. The Warden, like it or not, uses combination attacks to take down his foes.
Basically, instead of skill mashing, LOTRO's Warden has basic attacks that you can string together to create Gambits, or combination attacks. Better still, the Gambits have different uses, so you can use a healing gambit in battle to replenish your morale as well as a threat generation gambit to keep aggro on you instead of your mates.
What's nice about this system is that it encourages using different gambits based on the situation, as well as strategic thought to get the job done. I found this a refreshing way to look at melee back in AOC, and to see shades of it in another game is a good sign for me.
As you can see here, I haven't talked about graphics yet, and I don't think I will expound on that much. Needless to say, I think the graphics are nice, and if you're looking for something that isn't cartoony-looking, LOTRO is definitely a place you can visit.
Ah, sound. I love it when you're there, but I get weirded out when you aren't. I love listening to the music in the game as it adds a nice ambience without being too obtrusive. Imagine a peaceful flute playing while you're fighting for your life, and the general idea is there.
The sound effects are crisp, though I have noticed that they don't always play. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but it can be frustrating sometimes to fight, as I like hearing the clash of spears and swords instead of silence.
My biggest gripe about LOTRO is what I call "relativity syndrome." You see, if things in my world and in the server are relative, then one has to be able to dominate the other so as to create a harmonious whole for the game. In this case, the server dominates, and thus makes the rules as to what people are seeing, even if they don't understand it.
In WoW, I could understand the lag or disconnection issues, because there'd be a freezing of my screen, followed by a disconnection notice, and during the interim between the notice and the freezing, something may be killling you.
In LOTRO, it isn't the case. Instead, you can watch the massacre of your perfect "undefeated" record happen while you flail helplessly about trying to understand what is happening.
What's happening is this: You freeze in place unable to move other than to spin around doing nothing. All the while, your enemy is stabbing you with his dagger and you're fully cognizant of this because IT'S HAPPENING ON YOUR SCREEN IN REAL TIME. To the server, it's probably looks as if I'm still "In" the game, but there's no way for the server to know that I've been disconnected until it's too late and I'm dead.
Oh, and I've noticed this happens somewhat often, usually after an hour or two of play. Sigh...
Maybe it's different if you're not on trial mode, I don't know. It can be frustrating, though not enough that it makes me want to stop playing.
As it stands at the moment, I quite like LOTRO, even with that connection issue. I like how the game guides me through an epic questline, and at the same time, doesn't force it upon me. I also like the gameplay style of the Warden I'm playing, as well as the nice little touches like the Hobbit Houses.
Now all I need is 1 gold to buy a house, but that's an entirely different adventure in and of itself.
1 hour ago