Monday, June 22, 2009

Neo Steam Review

Neo Steam
Free to play MMORPG

In a world where the slick shininess of a games website had a direct correlation with the quality of the game itself, Neo Steam would probably be one of the finest, most polished, F2P games ever forged.

Anyone who has spent any real amount of time around these F2P games know that reality is usually the opposite.

I already was well aware the base Neo Steam game was garbage before I even installed the American client.
I had installed the Filipino version some months before, and uninstalled it in disgust in less then an hour of play.
So why try it again? Because the US client is being handled by the new online gaming branch of Atlus USA a company well known for their legendarily epic quality localizations of Japanese console games, I figured if anyone could salvage this game it would be them.

Were they successful?
Neo Steam is a standard point and click to move Korean MMORPG set in a fantasy/steampunk world called Chrysalis where a war between two factions, The Republic of Rogwel (Steampunk) and The Kingdom of Elerd (Hippies) are in a state of constant warfare over this blue glowy stuff called Neo Steam; some kind of magical fuel used to power machinery.
The game has seven playable races two of which are exclusive to one faction or the other.

I have to stop right here, because this is where the game gets weird, and I encountered the first of many inexplicable design choices I have found in this game pop up.

When you create your first character in Neo Steam you have to select one of the two warring factions. What they do not tell you while you are doing this is once you roll your first character, that is it.
You can not play on the other faction on that account PERIOD; not even on a different server.
You have to set up a whole nother account to be able to play as the other faction.
The second comes immediately after selecting your faction while creating your character.
You will notice there is a gender select option, however it does not actually work for any of the races except one.

So you want to be an Elf? You are a girl.
You want to be a Lupine or a Tarune? You are a guy.
Lyell? Girl.
Human? Two separate races entirely; one male, and one female for absolutely no logical reason I can ascertain.
The only race you can select the gender for is the Pom.

These things.


Gameplay wise this is pretty much the definition of a Korean MMO.
You point, you click, you run up to random mobs, you click on them, and you trade blows till something falls over dead.
PvP is mostly same song different verse.
You get a list of skills you can learn, and power up by using TP you gain from either fighting and leveling up, or
(here comes another one of those design decisions.) by sitting AFK in front of certain NPCs for several hours.
Atlus tried to adding WASD controls to the game but as the games movement was designed for point and click, the WASD controls just feels sluggish, and awkward.
If you don't like how any of the of the controls are set up, too bad because there is no option to change them.

What Atlus did right was the translation, true to their reputation they have made another world class effort, I dare you to find another F2P Asian MMO with a better more seamless translation into English. Not only does all the text, and NPC dialog make perfect sense, but characters are even given personality though your exchanges with them.

Visually the game has a mildly interesting anime art style, the graphics are far from the best I have seen out there but some of the environments with the games dynamic lighting options turned on can be actually quite pretty.
However any praise I give for the graphics are immediately taken away because of the atrocious amount of pop up, and the just god awful way the characters in this game move.
It is not something most people think about, but in any MMORPG your character running is the thing you are going to see more then anything else, in Neo Steam everyone runs like a tard.
Every single playable race. I honestly couldn't believe it, that has to be some kind of record.
Elven warriors wielding eight foot long battle axes run like eight year old girls late for the bus,
Humans look like they are about two seconds from falling flat on their face.
Tarune, and Lupine look like they are struggling in vain to find a bathroom.
And Poms do this bazaar run that looks half waddle, and half Nazi goosestep.
And that is just one animation loop.
Just about all the games character animations are awkward, ridiculous, or just plain strange.
This extends to a lot of the enemy models as well.

The games music and sound is pure derivative fantasy fodder.
I can not remember a single track that stood out, and I wrote most of this review with the game running in the background.

I really was hoping Atlus could have done something with this game, but I can not recommend Neo Steam to anyone.
I appreciate what Atlus USA is trying to do, branching into MMOs. But why on gods green earth they picked Neo Steam to be their first online outing just befuddle me.
You polish a turd, all you are going to get is a shinier turd.

Boring same Jane gameplay, crappy forgetable music, gimpy absurd design choices, stupid animations, The only thing the game has going for it is the writing, and for an open world MMO that is just not going to cut it regardless of how good the writing may be.
Do not let the pretty website fool you, just stay away from Neo Steam.


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