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PREVIEW OF LINEAGE: THE BLOODPLEDGE [Author: Lum the Mad]

Not
only is she speaking a foreign language,

she has little dudes protecting her.

Lineage
is a Korean MMOG that is anime-inspired, specifically by "the famous comic
books of Ilsook Shin". That means absolutely squat to me but may mean something
to you. Then again, a quick search on Google turned up 17 entries for "Ilsook
Shin", all of which were from Lineage previews that said "Lineage
is based on the famous comic books of Ilsook Shin." This may be the first
sign that if you speak English you may not be the target audience for this game
yet. However, at an awfully popular price (free), it may still be worth
a good look.

Lineage
supposedly has over 2 and half million (that’s MILLION) subscribers in Korea,
or more than UO, EQ and AC combined. It’s so successful, in fact, that it now
plans to conquer the world, expanding first to Taiwan, and now with a single
American server, which had over 600 people on it. And, much like Hokuto has
quite a few American UO players, most of those 600 people were Korean as well.

So what’s
game play like? Think a bastard child of Ultima Online and Diablo, only while
having only a vague idea of what you’re doing at any given moment, while being
hectored to buy things in foreign languages. That pretty much captures the Lineage
experience in a nutshell, at least for the new player.

On deck in the Character Selection screen, a Knight, Prince
and Elf. The Elf is glowing because, well, elves glow. Plus

I selected him. Pikachu I CHOOSE YOU.

Lineage is class and level based. Characters have the standard AD&D-type
stats, and during character creation you can click a little dice icon until
you get the stats you want – or, more likely, become heartily sick of clicking
on the little dice. You cannot simply assign stat points, but must pray to the
gods of randomness for a good roll. Classes include the warrior-type Knight,
the wizard-type Magicians (who know no magic at the game’s start which is more
than a little frustrating), the hybrid-cheater-type Elves who can also see in
the dark, and the play-to-crush Princes who can lead other characters on jihads
to seize the castles of other Princes and do other cool things.

Probably
the first thing you will notice in Lineage is that you look like everyone else.
EXACTLY like everyone else. There is absolutely no character customization in
Lineage – no matter what armor or equipment you have, a Knight looks like a
Knight looks like a Knight looks like a Knight. If you’ve been dreaming about
a game where you can blend into the crowd and fulfill your dream of becoming
an anonymous part of a horde, well, you found your game. Others might find it
a touch disconcerting.

As long as you possibly can.

Once you
begin, in true MMOG fashion you wander around the starter town, completely clueless
until you find the newbie area. In Lineage this is the Training Dummy Kennel.
Yes, those old friends from Ultima Online are back, and you can get all the
way to level 4 simply by monotonous clicking on a training dummy. I cannot express
to you exactly how much fun this was. Mainly because it, well, wasn’t. But it
beat the snot out of getting beat the snot out of. Again, in true MMOG fashion,
high level monsters (in the Knight town, giant spiders called "shelobs"
run amuck among the newbies and splat anyone within range, so levelling fast
may be a good idea.

My name is Slim Shady. Biyotch.

While you
are whacking your dummy, you can watch the conversation going on throughout
the server to get a good feel for the community and roleplaying that you’ve
come to expect from these games. Lineage is no exception. In fact, once you
get to level 10, you are thrown in the "veteran" chat channel. From
then on you see everyone’s /ooc equivalent, server wide. And you can’t turn
it off. Ever. This is probably why many become PKs. Or at least you’d think.
Yes, that’s right, you can PK in Lineage. I didn’t run into too many, but that
probably was because I never strayed too far from the newbie towns, where helpful
guards pound red-named characters into goop.

Eventually,
though, you’ll want to stop pounding on a training dummy. I don’t know why.
Training dummies are actually quite helpful – they give you experience points
when you hit them, and the level of their conversation usually surpasses the
chat you’ll see in the game. So I went and talked to NPCs. True to form, the
NPCs in Lineage were more fun to talk to than the other players. I wonder why
I edit a web site about massively multiplayer games and then do my damndest
to actually avoid other humans when playing them. It probably had something
to do with my childhood.

And after that, you must bring me…. a SHRUBBERY!

Most NPCs
appear to center around the age old Heroic Quests of Gimme Stuff So I Give You
Stuff. Apparently this is so Lineage has an economy, and to its credit it does
appear to have one, if the constant spam in the chat channel was any indication.
Of course I had no idea what they were saying, most of the time it was in Korean,
and the few ads in English were for 20k and 30k. I had I think 5 coins. Again,
not quite the target market.

Oh yeah. It’s all right.

After wandering
in the wilderness for a bit, I decided to do the heretical thing for a member
of this site and actually *gasp* rolled up an Elf character. Elves in Lineage
rock. You start with a bow. Bows just rock. You can shoot things from far away
and they die. This is sort of on the level of cavemen discovering the joys of
AK-47s on the hunt for my limited Lineage skills. Elves also can see in the
dark. Lineage is serious about its darkness – you have a light radius of about
3 inches from your nose when you leave town, but elves can see the entire screen.
Albeit in some strange flourescent green, but that’s a minor detail. Elves also
can cast spells and probably get all the girls.

Hoowah THIS!

So my next
hour or so in Lineage was as an Elf. Eventually I ran out of arrows, and then
I discovered the dirty secret of elves. Namely that they can run out of arrows.
A bow without arrows is, well, kind of, you know, useless. I went looking for
new arrows or helpful Ent Faries that dispensed AMMO but never did find out
how to make more. Since I wasn’t yet a high enough level to cast spells or otherwise
know what the hell I was doing, I logged off and made yet another new character.
So far, again, par for the course in my experience with MMOGs. I’d have read
the manual, but there wasn’t really much of one and most of it dealt with PvP
seizures of castles – admittedly a cool concept but when you run out of arrows,
you’re pretty much out of the whole combat scene.

The player economy of Lineage, alive and well.

However,
you can still talk to people. So it’s not a total loss.

 

I’m reminded
I may have been pretty hard on Lineage. Mainly by my wife (who looked over my
shoulder while I wrote this and said "You’re being awfully hard on them!
They’re trying!"). In Lineage’s favor, it is actually free which
does forgive a great many ills. However, actual documentation for the game would
probably be nice at some point. In the mean time, please post in the comment
thread where the hell I can find some goddam arrows. Oh, and some Ilsook Shin
comics.

To download
Lineage and try it out, start at the American distributor’s site, NC
Interactive
. You can also try to decipher the
Korean site
(knowing Korean would help here).