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RF Online

I have to say that I’m inherently biased towards most games that have Transformers in them. RF Online (Rising Force Online) does not have actual Transformers in it, but it does have a race called the Accretian Empire that do look a little like Transformers. So of course, when I got the game I decided to play as them. The Transformers are pissed off at everyone because their home planet is out of resources. They’ve tried to go out and get more, but the compassionless peoples of the Holy Alliance Cora (Elves) and the Bellato Union (Humans) are fighting them. These evil bastards are blocking the Transformers from getting the resources they need for survival because (presumably) they’re jealous of their awesome swords, metallic bodies, and skills with the ladies.

Transformers like to spend time between missions working out interpretive dance routines.

So yes, that means that RF Online is another in an endless list of MMORPGs that have been released since EverQuest popularized the genre. Now, as fun as creating a character might sound from my awesome introduction, the actual character creation mode is light on options. For my Transformer, I could only manipulate his eye color, body type, and a few other minor (very minor) cosmetic details. Even worse, all of the starting skill points are allocated for you, so you can’t customize your stats in any way when you start (like having more health, less stamina or more stamina, less force power). There are also only five classes to play: warriors, rangers, wizards, specialists, and dual classes. Most of those are pretty self-explanatory, but specialists are good at producing goods and supporting other classes during battles. Personally, I chose to play as a warrior because I don’t think Transformers should mess around with making things and the like (sadly, the Accretians do not actually transform until very high levels that I have yet to attain).

After my brief tinkering with the character creator, I was finally dropped into the world and was treated to a slow-but-helpful tutorial on how to move my Transformer around and most importantly how to kill things. Moving is simple and involves you simply clicking somewhere and your character will walk towards it. It can get a little tricky at long distances because your character has a tendency to get stuck on things, so you have to monitor it constantly, but it works well with the third-person perspective. Killing things in this game is also straightforward. You just click on the things you want to attack and then your character automatically attacks them. To keep things from getting stale, my Transformer had some sweet combat skills and I was instantly glad that I picked him because he swings his sword around with an entertaining finesse and grace that actually makes watching his automated attacks interesting. These skills grow more powerful as the game goes on and are super-strong, but you can’t rely on them all the time because you only have a small skill pool.

“I said, don’t call me big ears!!!”

The tutorial closed and I was finally dropped into the real game world. I was no longer the only Transformer. I was surrounded by dozens of other Transformers, including some cool guy that had an awesome sword and an even cooler mace. I expressed my satisfaction for his sword and he brought up a trade window and let me check them out. Then I told him that I was new and lost and that I just wanted to kill something. Without even hesitating he led me to the killing fields, even though his party was waiting for him to go somewhere. He also added me to his friends list and told me to message him if I had anymore questions. I have to say that it was one of the warmest receptions I’ve gotten in any MMO that I’ve played and during all of my time with the game I never encountered a single person that interfered with my enjoyment of RF Online.

The game might sound pretty awesome at this point, or at least reasonably good, and I have to admit that it is. Unfortunately, the game world is where RF Online falls apart most. It’s pretty bland. Nothing is really going on. There’s no much in terms of foliage or anything, which I’m sure helps slower system manage the game, but it can be boring to look at. Even worse, though there are lots of enemies to kill (especially in the lower-level areas), the enemies don’t really do anything. They have no personality. They just spawn in one spot and stand around, waiting to die. Okay, so maybe they hop around or fly around a small area, but they really don’t do anything. Almost mockingly, a brilliant, powerful orchestrated soundtrack kicks in when you engage your enemies and it seems almost silly at times. This makes some of the earlier portions of the game boring at times, but fortunately low-level level progression moves reasonably quickly and you’ll be out in the real-world in no time, where things certainly pick up. I must say too that the low-level progression in this game is actually incredibly friendly too, which is a nice change of pace from other games in this genre that are incredibly difficult to get into.

“You guys follow me. I’m in charge because I have the biggest gun.”

All jokes aside, RF Online is a stable and an entertaining game once you progress through the earlier portions of the game. There also seems to be a strong fanbase behind the game and maybe more importantly than that the game is stable as hell. After years of playing EverQuest and having to deal with servers being down, constant crashes and bugs all over the place, it was a refreshing change of pace to finally sit down with a game that’s stable and seems to have a team strongly committed to keeping the game up and running. I’ll honestly admit that RF Online really doesn’t do much in terms of “new” that is really game-changing, but of all the MMOs that I’ve got, this is the game I’m most likely to be playing for the next few months. If you’re looking for a stable (if not exactly original) MMORPG to sink your teeth into, RF Online should be the one you play.

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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