I Reserve My Judgment for a Later Time I More for Me!
Cue the Klaxons I Oh, You're Going Down Six Flags!
Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah I Video Dump
Travel Log: FusionFall

Issue #133 Implausible? Not Really
June 29th, 2010


I'm pretty excited to be moving to a new place soon. Also, I did freelance work that earned me some money, so I'm feeling useful and productive these days. On the geek side of things, I'm really getting excited for Secret World. I'm still cruising through Perfect World International and Bright Shadow, though I had to put them aside briefly to focus on FusionFall. So, read on, my intrepid companions.

  I Reserve My Judgment for a Later Time

There are three new MMOs in development that, in all honesty, make me raise my eyebrows a little. Two because of the IPs they’re based off of, and the other because I wonder if it's really going to have enough of an audience to keep it afloat. Or am I the only one who thinks this way?

Anyhow, first up on the block is Super Hero Squad Online, which is based off the cartoon in which cutesy-wutsy versions of the characters from the Marvel comics universe have kid friendly adventures and mishaps. Developer Gazillion Entertainment states that players will be able to join forces to fight enemies, collect items, customize things like their headquarters, and explore a Marvel themed world.

Now, I like me some cartoons, don't get me wrong. I love Chowder, Spongebob, and even dabble in Fanboy and Chum Chum on occasion. Super Hero Squad is one of those shows which is for kids, but is lacking that certain charm that also allows me to enjoy it as well. But it is a kids show, and the MMO will follow that lead, so I'll leave it at that and move on.

Next we have an upcoming Star Wars: The Clone Wars MMO. Sony Online Entertainment, developers of Free Realms, Everquest, and Star Wars Galaxies, will be working with LucasArts to bring out Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures in the fall. You'll join other players to take part in the fight against the "Separatist droid army". I wonder if that means that you can only play as a character that is in league with the Jedis. So no playing as a Sith or Bounty Hunter? As with Free Realms, there will be the option to play for free, or get a subscription for extra in-game goodies.

I don't think that a Clone Wars MMO is a bad idea, but you've already got Star Wars Galaxies, plus the Star Wars: The Old Republic raking up players. There will be young kids playing, as with Super Hero Squad Online, but I was under the impression that the Clone Wars cartoon was marketed to a slightly older audience. And I wonder if that older audience wouldn't just as soon play one of the more mature Star Wars MMOs on the market.

Lastly, Universal, Bigpoint, and Schell Games are teaming up to create The Mummy Online. The Mummy, as in the semi-comical, action movie series starring Brendan Fraser. Let that one sink in for a minute.

The plan is to make the game both free-to-play and browser-based, which makes the whole thing a lot more plausible to me. The Mummy Online is being called an action RPG where people will play as adventurers and treasure seekers in Egypt, finding riches and battling evil along the way.

Besides my gut reaction of "the hell?" I honestly think this could go either way. If it's handled well, The Mummy Online seems like it could be a fun game.

  More for Me!

You know me, I'm something of an advocate for free-to-play MMOs. It's mostly because that at the moment, I'm cheap as hell, so it doesn't really matter to me how good World of Warcraft may supposedly be; I'm not willing to shell out the cash for it when I have hundreds of free-to-play MMOs that, while it can be a bit like shuffling through mounds of crud to find a hidden gem, I'm finding more and more titles that both look really good and are fun to play. I'm not trying to knock WoW though; I'm quite sure that it's an amazing MMORPG that will suck a good chunk of time away from my daily life. But the lure of not paying money is a strong siren call to players like me, and in the face of the difficulties in going against a MMO behemoth like WoW, I believe more and more MMO developers are realizing this as well.

Following FusionFall's and Dungeon and Dragon Online's example, Turbine has announced that Lord of the Rings Online will be going free-to-play in the fall. Actually, it will be more of a freemium set-up that Free Realms and the like have going. Current subscribers are automatically enrolled in a VIP program, which gives them full access to everything in the game plus extra benefits. Sign-ups for the upcoming beta are already open, and the free-to-play version will launch when volume three, book two of LOTRO is released.

  Cue the Klaxons

Final Fantasy XI's final months before the release of Final Fantasy XIV are certainly not without some excitement. And misfortune, as it seems. After a recent breach on the FFXI's network, an undisclosed number of player accounts may have been compromised and their user information at risk of being misused. PlayOnline has moved quickly to counter the attack, changing the PlayOnline passwords of all accounts that were hit. Also, PlayOnline states that if you can still log on with your original password, or have linked your "PlayOnline ID to a Square Enix Account", your account is safe.

  Oh, You're Going Down Six Flags!

I don't really have a semi-clever quip to start this blurb off with, so I'll just skip the preamble. Daniel Ruke, founder of blink (yes, it's with a non-capitalized b), is going to open a MMO theme park. Well, actually Game Nation, as it's named, is being termed the "world's first Experiential Video Game Theme Park and Resort." The actual location of Game Nation has not been determined yet, but will be decided in the next twelve months. It seems that the park will be separated into different types of game worlds, called districts. Two districts have already been announced; Alternet, a cyber punk city where you'll take on missions to uncover a terrorist threat, and Chroma, a kid friendly fantasy land with a colorful environment and talking animals.

I honestly have no clue how this one is going to work out, but I'd love to see it move forward, if only for the interesting news it's going to make. It's just so hard to wrap my head around it at this stage. A theme park on its own must be insanely hard to create and maintain, but an MMO based one? Ruke should probably try to get some funding from Blizzard; lord knows they've got a bazillion dollars just lying around at this point.

  Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah

I don't know about the rest of you, but I have fond memories of my summer camp days at Camp Wakeshma. I went canoeing, learned to sail, kayaked through reeds full of molted mayfly shells (it seemed like a good idea at the time), went fishing, learned how to make gimps (another term for this is braiding, where you take different colored plastic strings and weave them together. Why we called it something that has to do with leather and whips is beyond me), and developed a great appreciation for Faygo brand cola.

Well, Sony Online Entertainment wants to invite you to its own special summer event. For thirteen weeks, Free Realms will be running a virtual Summer Camp with plenty of live events, special quests, and daily tasks to choose from. A printable events calendar is available as well as Multi-Month memberships. A subscription to a three month membership will get you 10% off the normal monthly membership fee.

This sounds like a fun idea, though I always thought the point of shipping your kids to summer camp was to give them no choice but to get off their lazy, video-game playing rear-ends and go get some sun and exercise. That's just me.

  Video Dump
For Honor and Freedom

Your video this time is an extremely cool looking cinematic trailer for Star Wars: The Old Republic, where a brutal face-off between the Republic and the Sith takes place on Alderaan. As a bonus, I believe the voice actor narrating the trailer is T.C. Carson, who is also Kratos in the God of War games. Lovely.

  Travel Log: FusionFall

I have a lot of patience when it comes to games, I honestly do. I can put up with a lot of crap before I reach the point where I'll toss the game under an on-coming truck's wheels. I played through all four .Hack games which, despite their flawed execution, had a premise I really liked. I even made it all the way through Grandia Xtreme; now that's a trial in patience. So I hope it's obvious that when it came to FusionFall, I tried. I really did.

I do appreciate that in comparison to other MMOs, the story is fairly easy to follow. For thousands of years, an evil planet called Planet Fusion has spending chaos throughout the universe, copying Galactus's example and absorbing whatever worlds it comes across. Each planet Fusion eats makes it stronger, and now it has come to the planet where characters from various Cartoon Network shows live together in a kind of massive Kingdom Hearts-like crossover multi-verse. Planet Fusion has sent down machines to break the CN world down, as well as goo blobs that can create twisted clones of everything from newspapers to evil versions of CN characters. So basically, the CN characters are banding together to repel the invasion, and you're one of the many people recruited to fight.

I was surprised that I didn't have to download anything to play the game. I just had to create a player account, and the game launched in a separate window. Character creation is not anywhere near as complex as my last MMO, Perfect World International, but it offers some fun combinations. You can even choose a selection of starting outfits. The game begins in Dexter's lab, where a preteen Dexter is having you assist him in a time travel experiment. As expected, Dee Dee ends up pushing a button she shouldn't have and you end up transported into the future. It quickly becomes apparent that the battle against Fusion has progressed to the point that the CN forces are having difficulty holding their ground.

FusionFall seems to be more of a casual MMORPG, something that you can just mess with for a half hour or so. As such, many of the game mechanics are streamlined. Movement is done with the WASD keys, and the camera is controlled with the mouse or the Q and E keys. Items and cash dropped from monsters are automatically picked up. There are no character classes or special moves, unless I just didn't play far enough. To attack, you just hold down the right mouse button to shoot or swing your weapon when the enemy is in range, and depending on your weapon you can attack single monsters or multiple targets at once. There doesn't seem to be any penalty for dying like losing XP or items; you're just transported back to a respawn point and are good to go.

One of the big focuses of the game is the Nanos that assist you in battle. Nanos are little cute versions of different CN characters that you can summon in battle to heal, attack, or cast various status effects on you or enemies. You don't earn XP points for defeating monsters, you earn Fusion Matter. When you get enough Fusion Matter, you'll get a Nano mission to go and defeat an evil fusion version of a CN character. Once the boss is beaten, you'll get a Nano of that character, and the number of Nanos you've collected is the level of your character. There are 36 Nanos to collect so far, but you can only have three Nanos equipped at a time.

There are other good aspects of the game. As I said, the Nanos are really cute and add a bit of a Pokémon collecting feel to the game. FusionFall also has a good amount of voice acting, and for the most part, the actual actors from the shows are voicing their respective characters. If you happen to like CN shows, both old and new, it is kind of cool to see the environments and characters represented in the game (I've missed you, Courage the Cowardly Dog!). There's also an interesting combination system that allows you to imbue stats from one item to another.

The rather glaring problem with the game is the technical issues. My internet can be wonky at times, but I've never had the trouble with other MMOs like I've had with FusionFall. A short time after I began playing, my connection to the server would suddenly go down. I would restart and restart the game, and almost every five minutes I would be booted off again. At the time I was in New York, so when I got home I tried again, thinking maybe there was something wrong with the connection I was using. This just added a whole new set of problems. The game was still crashing, sometimes I wouldn't even get past the loading screen, and at one point it looked like my screen had been cut in half and shoved over to the far right of the window. I finally managed to get to level four and leave the future to go back to the past, and at the loading screen my cursor was stuck in the middle of the screen. While the game was at least actively loading the content, and it was going to take a few minutes. I couldn't even move the cursor to go mess around on the net while I was waiting. I wondered if maybe it was just my computer that was the problem, but after checking out the FusionFall forums, it seems that I'm not the only one having issues trying to play this game.

If not for all the difficulty I had just trying to get the game to work, I would have found a good casual MMO to play. I suppose it doesn't help that I had high hopes that I would really like playing FusionFall, only to end up weary with even having to start it up. The casual aspect may have hurt it in my view as well. The pick-up-and-go play style isn't a bad idea, and this is a casual game marketed more towards kids than at my age bracket. However, I think that FusionFall should have included more game features like classes, skills, and the other details that are in more complex MMOs which take time to master and to learn about. That might have been enough to make me shrug off the annoyance of the server crashes just so I could delve into the game more. But without that meat on the skeleton, it just got to the point where the positive points I found were being overshadowed by my steadily growing indifference. Maybe I should have kept trying to work through it, but honestly, I really don't want to. If the technical problems are fixed, then I could be persuaded to give it another go. But for now, forget it. I'm done.

 Back to Title

Alright, here's to hoping I get more enjoyment on my next Travel Log choice, but before then, I'm taking some time in Bright Shadow. Later!

/not LFG,
Sarah Williams (Feed me mail!)

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