Opening The Gates
IGG’s latest game is the upcoming turn-based MMORPG, Altis Gates. The game sets players in a world that rests atop the clouds and features a number of tried and tested gameplay functions in refined and user-friendly ways.
The alpha test only lasted for three days but it was enough time to walk away from the experience with enough information in tow to relay to gamers exactly what Altis Gates will be like. Considering, though, that this isn’t a review I can’t decidedly say how good this game may or may not be but gamers might get the hint by the end of this preview.
A Story Fit For The SNES
One of the most lacking aspects of an MMO usually falls within the realm of its storytelling. Surprisingly, IGG seems to have invested a few extra zeroes in the writer’s paycheck because the story kicks off like gamers just plopped in a classic Squaresoft SNES game (and yeah I’m referring to their classics, and not the recent tripe Square Enix has been popping out lately).
After picking a class, hair style, hair color and a name, players begin the game as part of an elite team that ventures into a castle owned by an evil sorceress. It’s a non-playable scenario but sets up the story nicely as the player and their team go down in a blaze of fire (literally) while battling to the death. Before the player’s character is completely killed off they’re safely teleported out of the fortress by one of their allies. However, the trauma from the previous battle and the ensuing emergency teleportation renders the player character with amnesia and, of course, newbiritis…that awful disease that degenerates players back to level 1.
Exploring Altis City
The game is setup like a traditional isometric RPG but with new-school visual effects. All the houses and buildings are pre-rendered, static images and all the characters and NPCs are sprites just like from the golden days of RPGs.
Players start the game in Altis City with the unshakable newbiritis and a fresh start ahead of them.
Exploration and adventuring is setup like most other MMORPGs, as players navigate with the mouse and after exiting a safe zone there will be random encounters with certain monsters specific to each area.
At the start of the game players won’t have a lot of NPC interaction other than with the quest NPCs. Much like previous IGG games the questing and NPC/monster locating is done simply by clicking on a name in the quest menu. One thing worth noting, though, is that Altis Gates' auto-travel is not quite as fluent or as seamless as the one in 2029 Online…but then again a lot of games come up short by comparison to that game.
Before being able to really get into the game, though, the newbie quest that sees players retrieving a letter of recommendation to stay in Altis City will send them venturing around and helping out a number of other NPCs before being able to freely roam, especially without the pressure of the story quest looming overhead. Gamers should be prepared to spend at least an hour or more completing the starting story quest. It’s not a particularly taxing quest, but it has many parts that works as a very long tutorial for new players.
Been There, Done That
Many of the starting quests and gameplay elements are pretty much standard-fare of what you would expect from an IGG title, which means there are a lot of helpful hints, easy-to-use walkthroughs for utilizing the game mechanics and plenty of newbie monsters to pound on or acquire as a pet. Not only that, Altis Gates puts players in territory that’s quite familiar to the gameplay likes of T.S. Online; joining parties will only render the leader capable of moving the entire party around. As mentioned earlier in the preview, it’s just like a classic RPG from the Genesis or SNES era.
The turn-based battles are typical for an MMO of this type, although I must admit that they are somewhat faster than expected. With multiple players in a party the pace of the battles moves very briskly. And even if a player takes too long to move during a battle, the auto-timer will ensure that the player auto-attacks after delaying for too long. Players can attack simply by clicking on an opponent, defend, attempt to capture the enemy and make them a pet (in which they will accompany players in battle), use magic or apply an item. The options are typical of what gamers might find in most other turn-based RPGs.
Aesthetics Fit For A Casual Gamer
The visual presentation of Altis Gates seems to rely on the laid-back, take-it-easy anime look popular with a lot of sprite-based MMOs. One thing worth noting, in particular, is that airships will pass by on odd occasions. The developers seemed focused on portraying the game as being light-hearted without really portraying any of the dire circumstances involved with the overall story.
Many casual gamers who enjoy titles like Maple Story or Angels Online might find a similar affability with the aesthetics of Altis Gates. The game uses the old-school eight-direction sprites that made the original Baldur’s Gate famous. So to say that the game is designed mainly to appeal to casual RPG gamers is probably an understatement.
Prepping For The Altis Gates Closed Beta
The alpha test only lasted for three days but based on what was playable it was really tough to establish any sort of definitive outlook on the game. All the shape shifting and pet accumulation was difficult to experience given the limited amount of time available to play. Nevertheless, the opening sequence featuring the player character was kind of cool, but the game quickly fades into typical MMO territory with the grind-fest quests.
From the looks of it, though, Altis Gates will probably be a game that gathers a strong following from casual gamers. The auto-combat feature and easy-to-use pet and skill management makes it a prime target for gamers looking for an online RPG that isn’t taxing on the hardware and focuses heavily on community interaction.