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A Mortal Waste Of Time
I don’t believe I have ever played a more frustrating game with such a cool concept than Star Vaults depressingly bad Mortal Online. This game is so bad on so many levels I almost don’t know where to begin, but I certainly know what I want to tell every gamer out there who even thinks about playing this game: Don’t ever think about playing Mortal Online!
Here's a few reasons of why you might enjoy Mortal Online, but you might be an anti-gamer if you think this is what you find to be enjoyable: Starting a game with pretty much no help on what to do or no direction on where to go or how to get anything done. Being robbed anytime you come across something useful while another player is around. Losing everything in your inventory every time you die. Traveling for hours on end just to reach a town. Constant PvP being active even inside towns. No clear enemies to attack other than animals and other players.
Now, I’m sure that fair warning will go unheeded so I’ll proceed to explain exactly why this is one of the worst MMORPGs ever made and why it’s a game worth avoiding, especially considering that the game has partial pay-to-play models in place, which is just thievery all the way around.
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I did say that this game is frustrating and worth avoiding, but certainly not because of its conceptual design and adventuring. Mortal Online is an entirely open-ended game with the option for players to build their houses just about anywhere, attack anyone at any time and ultimately develop their character with no limitations on how they progress. On paper this sounds intriguing and in-game it seems refreshing, however, the execution of these ideas are as poorly implemented as ever. I don’t even know what game I could possibly compare Mortal Online to, in terms of how bad the concepts were executed…heck, it’s even worse than NIDA Online and that game was pretty darn awful.
The problem is that the non-targeting concept, large, explorable environments and seemingly real-to-life take on the MMORPG genre just doesn’t come together. It seemed like the developers finished playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and felt like making an MMORPG version of that game but didn’t bother actually trying to make the gameplay match what they put down on paper.
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There are no quests. In fact, there are no maps or directions on where to go to even find quests. The help screen is completely useless and unless players spend hours-on-end scouring through the forums to find out how to execute simple things within the game then you just won’t ever find out how to do it.
Luckily a few players in the game who didn’t kill newbies were willing to explain a few things that the help screen didn’t bother posting. Nevertheless, if you don’t find yourself something to do in the game then there literally is nothing directed for you to do. I’ve never played a game that makes players feel so helpless and useless all at the same time. It’s like children with no parents, no rules and no laws and someone told them “Go out there and survive…survive anyway that you can". You can think of that as the main quest of the game.
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If everything wasn’t so close to being broken in Mortal Online I would honestly say that it shares a close semblance to Oblivion. However, the biggest difference between Oblivion and this first-person MMORPG is that Mortal Online just falters so greatly in all that it does, including the interaction and the combat.
While there is no reticule or targeting system like other MMORPGs, the problem with Mortal Online is not in the lack of being able to target conveniently but in actually swinging weapons and using them. To enter combat mode is something that doesn’t always work right and in turn leaves players at the mercy of their opponent while trying to attack or even enter the attack mode. It’s horribly frustrating.
Now it’s cool that mining, cutting down trees and engaging in other crafting skills are handled simply by activating combat mode and using the proper weapon to easily acquire goods. I thought that was an innovative approach to scavenging. The problem, however, is that after acquiring the goods players actually have to get to an NPC to sell those goods. Now trying to get to any NPC to sell them is kind of pointless because trying to live to get to an NPC or town is almost impossible without help, and most players are generally out to help themselves, which means if they see you they'll basically try to kill you, rob you and run off.
What's worse, though, is that the lag is so awful you can die before you even know you get hit. It’s just awful, really awful. Now it’s something that may or may not be fixed anytime soon but it literally makes the game unplayable. A lot of players take advantage of killing other players, and in my case, the text for the combat showed that I was being hit but the actual game took about two minutes to catch up, and by that time I was already dead. Epic fail? I think so.
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Graphics and Sound
This is where the game should shine: Mortal Online is running on the Unreal Engine 3 and has environments littered with foliage and trees thanks to Epic’s integrated partnership program that involved SpeedTree. The reason I bring this up is that SpeedTree is a development tool that’s responsible for some of the best trees and foliage featured in video games, media and TV, sporting physics-based wind effects, detailed and realistic leaves, and various barks and tree-forms that look real. So with all that said, why the heck are the environments so awful looking in Mortal Online? If you spot out the greenery in the game and get up close you’ll notice how blocky everything looks, which was just really disappointing. The atmospheric ambiance looks good but everything is just overly glossy and lacks defining artistic substance.
Now the model files for the characters aren’t bad, but I didn’t really understand why there was a need to add fully detailed genitalia. Was an anus really necessary? Seriously? In result, a lot of gamers run around, buck naked, killing newbies.
The only real aesthetic highlights of Mortal Online are that the towns and cities look gorgeous at a distance and the musical soundtrack is extremely engaging. Huge props to the music composer because that was one of the few features worth praising.
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I’ve never played an MMORPG before that felt like work, and I suppose Mortal Online is the first game where it literally feels like work. There’s a disproportionate amount of time required in scavenging/mining/wood cutting to make any decent cash and spending hours mining just so some newbie cretins can run up, kill you and take your stuff just feels pointless and depressing.
The lack of a plot, character development or quests makes things feel even more disparaging. And trying to play the game while it’s at night (in-game) is a real chore because it gets so dark that it’s almost impossible to see anything. I'm still trying to figure out who thought making the game that dark at night would be cool? Add on the fact that the entire setup is horribly confusing and performing simple tasks like talking to an NPC is a chore, and Mortal Online is easily one of the worst games out there, period. Sadly, though, it just feels like there's so much more wrong with this game worth describing, yet it would probably just waste everyone's time further discussing this atrocious piece of software. Hands down, avoid this game like the plague. If you want an open-world MMO where you can do anything and go anywhere, try the vastly superior Fallen Earth instead.