Anarchy Online is a MMORPG that has been in development for quite some time. Funcom has now entered the third phase of Beta testing, and things are starting to take shape, as the title nears completion.
IGN PC had the opportunity to be a part of this beta test, and their impressions of the game give a strong indication that Anarchy Online is going to be a strong presence in the field of online gaming.
Anarchy Online is a game with some obvious similarities to other MMORPGs such as Everquest; this much is evident from any account of its ins and outs. Its setting differs markedly, however; the game is set in a quasi-futuristic world, with an evil corporation and a powerful clan vying for dominance on opposite ends of the spectrum, and a number of people in between just trying to go about their business. Players have a choice from twelve job categories: Soldier, Martial Artist, Engineer, Agent, Adventurer, Beaureacrat, Enforcer, Doctor, Nanotechnician, Trader, Meta-Physicist, and the somewhat slavishly named Fixer. In addition to these class choices, players must choose both a personal appearance(the initial player model is the polygonal equivalent of a blank piece of paper) and must join one of the three main groupings of players: the Clan, tbe Omni-Tek corporation, or a neutral group. Each of these choices impacts greatly upon the way a character turns out; however, unlike other MMORPGs, while some job classes may result in certain skills being more difficult to learn, they do not preclude learning these skills, of which there are over 65.
Anarchy Online also features an innovative means of randomly generating quests. While wandering the countryside hacking up evil rats and the like will be the primary method for gaining experience, quests will play a prominent role. In each town, there is a quest booth where randomly generated quests can be obtained. Each quest comes with an objective, be it an assassination, delivery, or something else, and the key to the location where the quest will take place, usually a building. Once the player arrives at the building and uses the key, the interior of the building is randomly generated, ensuring that each quest will be truly unique. These quests vary in significance, but of note is the fact that many lower-level quests are actually worthwhile, a feature lacking in some MMORPGs.
Graphically, Anarchy Online sports some of the best graphics yet to be seen in a PC title, and this happily does not entail ungainly loading times. To avoid this problem, the game utilizes a system where entering an entirely new location can take a few seconds, but actual movement from wilderness area to wilderness area does not pose a hindrance.
This is especially important, as Funcom envisions each game world supporting 40,000 to 50,000 players. A world area takes approximately 45 minutes to run across from one end to the other, so 'massive' is definitely an accurate description of
Anarchy Online, at least in terms of sheer dimensions.
Combat proceeds in much the same way as in Everquest; enemies are visible on the world map, and to attack them, all it takes is a simple targeting and the press of a button. The actual combat sequences are augmented by a sort of mood-altering slider which determines how aggressive or defensive the player's character is in battle; this adds a new element to the proceedings, and comes with special bonuses depending on the meter's setting. Interestingly, fighting does not take place in cities thanks to the presence of a special mist that dulls aggression. The only exception to this rule is in the bowels of nightclubs and bars, where the mist can't penetrate; thus, barroom brawls are a reality of city life.
In terms of actual game content, a good deal of Anarchy Online has already been completed; that said, there is still some work to be done. Funcom estimates the game will be available sometime next month, so hopefully these glitches will be worked out before too long. Whatever the case, Anarchy Online has the potential to suck up a whole lot of free time.