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Friday, March 4, 2011

Video Game Review: Rift

There are many MMO’s out there.  Most of them are bad, some are only okay.  For years, World of Warcraft was the quintessence of online RPG’s and all those that attempted to be “fresh” and “better” either failed miserably, or just didn’t catch on.  Enter Rift; a much hyped, much talked about MMORPG that promises to give players a vacation from Azeroth.

Rift is a fast-paced game in which you choose from two factions, three different races in each, and then from four classes:  Warrior, Mage, Rogue and Cleric.  The game opens with an entertaining cutscene and you are then dropped into a complex and lively world.  After you create your character, there is a lot to learn.  It may seem overwhelming, but the intro area is designed to get you acclimated to the way things work in the game, and to give you a taste of how gorgeous this game is.

Rift does borrow a lot from World of Warcraft and the other “good MMO” Warhammer Online, but it never feels like a copycat.  It runs its own course after the familiar things are out of the way, and, honestly the familiarities with borrowed shortcut keys and similar leveling styles makes it easier to get into from WoW.  Since Trion World’s (developer of Rift) goal is to obviously steal players from Blizzard, making things familiar but different is a very smart move. 

With four classes, it doesn’t seem too broad.  That is, until you get into the game.  After you choose your class, your first quest rewards you by allowing you to select from a big list of subclasses.  For example, a Cleric can choose Shaman from the list.  As the intro area proceeds, you will get to choose from two more of these.  In short, within your class you get to mix and match three different subclasses, each with their own abilities and specialties.  This makes for a truly dynamic experience and really does merit multiple tries of the same class, to see how things play differently. 

The quests are standard MMORPG fare.  Kill a few of these, pick up some of these, go talk to this guy, ect.  But the quests are not the focus here, they merely act as something to do between the other events that are occurring constantly during gameplay.  Rifts open, acting as group quests that you can automatically join if you enter the area during the event.  Each rift is divided into stages where the group must take on increasingly more challenging waves of enemies until the Rift closes.  Invasions occur near or in towns where dozens of powerful enemies storm the area, and the players group up, automatically again, to take on these hordes until their numbers are drained.  Footholds are smaller-scale, simpler events that spawn other attacks, these can easily be soloed by a skilled player who can then earn the same rewards as they would from other events.

I, personally, have been playing Rift for a few days now and I am hooked.  It is a very polished, well-balanced and extremely fun to play MMORPG that gives more experienced gamers a nice break from the more paint-by-numbers MMO action in WoW.  The spontaneity of the events makes them more exciting, because you never know when or where they will occur.  This makes for a fast-paced action RPG that provides more than a little fun for fans of this style of game.  If you are unsure of Rift, I can assure you; if you like MMO’s, or maybe even just one MMO, and you like a fun, exciting challenge, Rift is a delightful option.  I may even speak evil and say that it is, in many ways, better than World of Warcraft.  GASPS ABOUND!!!!!!!!!!!!

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