Thursday, June 03, 2010

Game Review (Wizard 101 - PC)

Wizard 101 is an MMORPG developed by KingsIsle, released September 2nd 2008, and targeted for a 10-15-year-old audience. Think of it, in simplest terms, as a game with a World of Warcraft atmosphere at times, with battles similar to that of something from Final Fantasy. Instead of really using magic, you're using cards, so MAYBE it's actually more like Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh. However you compare this game, it's very solid overall.

Graphics: 4/5 Wizard101 doesn't have anything that will blow you away, but the game just looks pretty. It should run smoothly on most newer computers on the higher difficulty settings. The game occasionally lags, but that's usually only when you're in The Commons. The particle effects are nice, and the bright colors throughout most of the worlds really make the game shine.

Sound: 4/5 Pretty surprisingly good! Although I normally skip any dialogue, I have heard a good bit of it, and it is pretty well done for the most part. From what I can tell, every and any person you talk to has dialogue - human or not. The battle sounds are decent, but the music in the game is pretty simple and enjoyable.

Control: 4/5 I find the game to be very simple to control for the most part, but for someone that's 10 years old? I could see how this would be frustrating. There is a good bit to learn, but if you've ever played an MMORPG in the past, I think you know what to expect here.

Fun: 4.25/5 Wizard101 is a very solid game, but it's obviously not without flaws. Excuse me while I rant. First, I think KingsIsle is really a big scam of a company. The subscription is only $10 a month compared to the $15 for the giant World of Warcraft, but to really buy the spiffy things in and outside of Wizard City, you will have to buy Crowns, which cost real American dollars. You can very easily get along using the game's simple gold currency, but those who get Crowns will get distinct advantages, including much stronger, faster, and smarter pets. One of the biggest things that upsets me about Wizard101 is that although there are several different worlds to explore, and they appear to look different on the surface, they really are all quite similar. It doesn't take long to realize that; for the most part, the worlds have almost an identical layout anywhere you go, and the quests are also pretty redundant. (Pick up these barrels or crates, go inside this building and defeat these guys, etc.) This is to be expected, seeing as how MMORPGs tend to sort of... HAVE to follow this formula, but Wizard101 just doesn't seem to mask it quite as well. However, if a 10 year old were to play this game, they'd probably hardly even notice. The worlds, as I said, look very cool, the different creatures you run to along the way are interesting, the pets and mounts are spiffy, and the game is just expanding as KingsIsle is hard at work trying to keep the game fresh. While Wizard101 isn't the best MMORPG out there right now, it's a bit cheaper than World of Warcraft (if you're just talking about the subscription.) and simpler as well.


Things you may want to know:
- Subscribing ranges from $9.95 a month to $79.95 a year, depending on how you have it billed. If you don't subscribe, you will be unable to leave the core of Wizard City.
- Chat system is terrible. It's intended for a younger audience, so even words like 'crap' are blocked. But that's not all, I've experienced random words like 'so' to be censored, making for difficult conversing.
- Crowns, although not necessary, you may want to get eventually. Sadly, KingsIsle is trying to get kids to make their parents buy them, and I guess it's working. Sort of disappointing... almost like a scam.

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