E3 2005: Level Up
Webzen Displays a Diverse MMO Library
Product: Webzen's Lineup
Company: Webzen
Date: 05/28/2005
Avaliable On:

In a very loud booth right next to ATi was a Korean company called Webzen. Webzen are the makers of several kinds of MMO games, from RPGs to shooters, and according to their spokesperson, they are the number two MMO company, next to their competitor NCSoft.

At Webzen?s booth were a number of new and old MMO titles, some of which are brand new ideas. There was your typical hack and slash RPG, all the way to community-based RPG games, and even some shooting RPGs. On the stage at the Webzen Booth, Howard Shore, famed composer of the music featured on the recent Lord of the Rings movies, made an appearance, and touted the music that he created for the new MMO by Webzen, titled Sun.

Sun is a new, stylish MMORPG from Webzen. The game is billed to have console-style mechanics with beautiful graphics, and a wonderful cast of characters. Sun itself is set during the medieval period, and incorporates an original soundtrack by Howard Shore, the musician behind the score in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In Sun, you follow the story of the Guidance, a force that has declared war on the Geist Empire?s Immortal Emperor, Schwarz. Schwarz has been converting the ether of the world into dark energy and has used it to conquer the entire continent, and fuel his armies. The depletion of ether in the world has starved the land, and because of this, the Empire looks to expand to the neighboring nations to continue survival.

The gameplay in Sun is very unique. Not only are there your typical hack and slash style MMO battles in this game, but there is also a mode where you can fight faction versus faction. You can gain control of a section of the combat map and guide 20-40 soldiers for large warfare-style battling. Sun also incorporates a system that allows you to upgrade and combine your weapons, as well as cast enchantments on them, in order to make them stronger. This involves the player even more in the game than if you just had to buy a weapon.

What I heard of the soundtrack from Sun was very good. I have always been a fan of Howard Shore, ever since I heard the music from the Fellowship of the Ring. He has done a wonderful job with this game, as well. The parts of the game that I played worked like your typical hack and slash RPG, but they incorporated a few elements that I found to be catering more to your atypical MMO player. If you died, you weren?t resurrected halfway across the world, but right in the spot you died, ready and waiting to take on the enemies that just killed you. This, to me, brings you more into the game, so you?re not constantly swearing that you have to walk all the way back to the dungeon again every time you die.

The graphics were also very good in the parts that I played. The armor of the characters, and even the enemies, were all wonderfully modeled, and very clean. The environments, too, were very beautiful. Overall, I think the graphics are the best I?ve seen in an MMO to date. For those of you who want to get your hands on this game, you won?t have to wait long. Look for Sun to be in stores in the fourth quarter of 2005 for the PC.

Released in January 2004 for the PC, Mu has already captured many people from around the world, including Korea, China, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines. Mu is an MMORPG game where players go on an adventure to save the continent through various quests and missions. Mu boasts over 300,000 combinations of armor, weapons and defensive tools, which allows a player to create a uniquely customized character.

Webzen had a few PCs on the show floor with Mu playing on them, so I gave the game a spin. I usually don?t play very many MMO games, but Mu looks to be a pretty fun game. All of the control windows in Mu can be easily hidden, to allow you maximum view space of the screen, and can be called back with a simple key combination. The graphics are basically on par with most of the MMO games I saw on the show floor, and the sound was about average as well, and really nothing special compared to their newer MMO, Sun.

Parfait Station
While the name sounds kind of weird, Parfait Station actually looks to be a smart combination of two classic genres. Parfait Station is called a ?Shooting MMORPG?, and I really didn?t understand what they meant by that until I saw the video reel. The style of Parfait Station is essentially a combination of the RPG genre, with the early plane shooting games of the arcade days, such as 1942. The battles are very console-like in that they are very fast-paced.

There is a good bit of fast-paced action going on in Parfait Station, so players must learn to be quick at attacking and evading. Both guild and party systems are supported, allowing players to take on the action as a group, or letting them play one versus one. There are a great deal of playable characters at the disposal of the player, including humans, machines and beasts. Your character can take on a variety of different jobs, making each player diverse, and allowing different paths in which the game can be played.

The graphics on Parfait Station look to emulate a sort of anime-ish style. The graphics almost look cel-shaded, but it could just be that there are flat textures used on the character models, making it look more hand-drawn than rendered. This style fits very well with the overall gameplay. Parfait Station is expected to be in stores in the first quarter of 2006 for the PC.

Wiki: The Master of Tales
A few months ago, Webzen came out and announced Wiki: The Master of Tales as one of their new MMO games. The screenshots, however, closely resembled the Nintendo game Zelda: Wind Waker, so there was a bunch of fuss over whether or not this was a copycat game. Well, there really wasn?t any demo available on the show floor, but Webzen did have a video reel playing for this title, to describe what it is and show off some in-game footage.

The Master of Tales is an MMORPG styled game that boasts ten unique civilizations, each with their own myths and legends. Throughout the game, players are able to go on missions and quests that are foretold in these legends. There are three different races in the game that have been shown: humans, elves or beasts. Each race has different classes that you can be, and you are given opportunities to get promotions to access higher classes, and even some hidden classes that are available from special quests.

Characters in Wiki are highly customizable, from their hair color and style, to their actual facial expressions and attitude. The attributes of your character are directly attached to your own game play style in the various quests you undertake, as well as your character?s interaction with others. The result is that no two characters in Wiki will be exactly the same as another.

Another interesting thing about Wiki is that the different NPCs in the game will behave differently depending on what type of character you are. One character may be led to a certain mission, but a different characer may be given completely different advice. The information that you can get from NPCs are all based on the NPCs affinity level towards different character types.

With all this interaction, it seems that Wiki will offer a game that will create a unique experience for all players. Expect to see Wiki: The Master of Tales on the PC in Q4 2005.

Overall, there was a pretty diverse group of MMO games on showcase at E3 this year, some of which could actually be new genres that really haven?t been explored before. If anything, this upcoming year will be a venture into exactly what kind of game the MMO formula can be applied to.

Z64freak aka Bret Hall

GameVortex PSIllustrated TeamPS2