Red Cliff MMORPG Review (Level 1 – 20)
Movie-based games rarely ever fare well in the review process but Perfect World Beijing really pulled a fast one with the MMO adaptation of the John Woo film, Red Cliff.
A Journey To Red Cliff
Movie-based games usually get a bad rep and for good reason. Licensed video game property based on movies, TV shows or other popular icons from cultural media ends up being half-done, half-baked and half-produced. Most of the licensed games out there score rather poorly with reviewers because of their lack of quality or shoddy game mechanics. Thankfully, though, it’s quite the opposite for Cubizone and Perfect World Beijing’s movie-based MMORPG, Red Cliff. This is a game that actually aspires to coincide with the gorgeous and epic-scale film of the same name. This means that Red Cliff Online features great fighting animations an interactive world and plenty of quests.
By comparison, there are still some things that Red Cliff can’t quite emulate from the movie with the same flair, but the developers tried their hardest to make the game as close as possible. From level 1 up to level 20 players won’t be fighting massive armies or participating in many territory wars as depicted in the film. Instead, the focus of the gameplay in the early goings of Red Cliff surrounds character development. While the create-a-character itself is rather limited and not all the weapons have been implemented, what the game does feature is a very deep rooted system for getting players attached to the class of their choice and helping them evolve that class through a series of quests.
For the most part the gameplay will see players using skills attached to their class and venturing through the vast and beautifully rendered landscape of 208 A.D China, battling a number of foes and helping citizens throughout various regions.
One of the highlights of Red Cliff is the fighting mechanics, which feature fluent animations, and a combo skill-tree that allows players to link and combine skills to create visually appealing fights. The addition of a blocking skill for certain weapons also gives the game a huge leg up on other MMORPGs since the skill combos and blocking require constant attention from the player, even when fighting non-bosses. It’s quite the opposite of some games where players are required to stand around and watch as their character does all the work, such as Rohan: Blood Feud or Fly or Fun.
Many MMORPGs fall flat on their faces when it comes to questing. Usually they’re limited to killing so many monsters over, and over, and over again, or venturing across the land just to deliver some letter. The good and bad about the quests in Red Cliff is that they mix up the action quite a bit, and leave players sort of urging to move forward but there are still a lot of quests consisting of "kill X monster Y amount of times".
What’s more, though, is that the quests actually incorporate character growth, this is what makes the game more fun than most others. Sometimes an NPC will ask about a previous quest in which players may have to partake in a multiple choice scenario. Other quests are long-winded adventures that may have to be completed over the course of several days.
The thing I enjoyed most about Red Cliff’s questing system is that it doesn’t do anything new with the MMORPG quests, it just adds a lot of diversity to the setup to prevent players from being bored out of their minds.
Also, leveling is mainly only possible by completing quests, so the developers kept a lot of level and story related quests bundled up in each city for players to complete. I also liked how each of the quests actually move the player forward in joining the ranks of the army and earning titles that affect stats in the process. It’s a very snazzy system.
Perfect World Beijing doesn’t stray far from what made Perfect World a recognized name in the world of MMOs with Red Cliff Online. Many of the elements from PW remain the same in this game, such as the control system; many of the visual elements; and even the questing setup. However, in this game many of those elements have been vastly improved, especially with the fighting and skill setup.
You could basically say that Red Cliff doesn’t break any new ground when it comes to evolving the concept of playing an MMO. However, what the developers did instead is take many of the broken elements of the MMORPG genre and adapt them to a more streamlined and player-driven experience. This includes more interactivity with the combat at lower levels, interacting more with the environment and mixing up the quest formula to satiate the attention of gamers.
As much as I would love to heap praises on this game in every aspect of its design, unfortunately I can’t say too many nice things about the partying for levels 1 – 20 in Red Cliff. In fact, throughout my entire time playing I never partied…not once…with anyone. This is not to say that I never came across other players, it was just that the way the character growth and quests are setup it’s just not entirely convenient to search out a party.
Furthermore, the game treats the first 20 levels like a single-player RPG; detailing lots of individual circumstances for developing and identifying with your character and choices that will shape who they eventually become. In some regards, I’m somewhat lenient toward the developer’s choice to avoid heavy partying in the beginning parts of the game in order to help players really get accustomed with their character. However, at the same time there should have been a few mandatory low-level party quests thrown in just to remind gamers that it is an MMO.
Gamers looking for a martial arts based MMO like World of Kung Fu, which actually focuses on the martial arts and not over-the-top special skills and fantasy abilities as seen in games like Xiah, Kal Online or even the fan-favorite World of Warcraft, really should consider trying out Red Cliff. And even though some of the classes have yet to be implemented, the classes that are available are really well done and are designed with quality animations and aesthetics. The combo skill system is also executed superbly and even low level players will be able to enjoy it and embrace it as a highly interactive way to stay engaged with the combat.
The quest system leaves little to be desired but, of course, this well crafted feature comes at the expense of starting players not having a lot of opportunities to party. Nevertheless, this is easily one of the better MMORPGs made for the convenience of newbie players and is definitely worth checking out if an epic story-driven MMO is your kind of game.
Official Red Cliff Online Website