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June 2000 Update

Product: Asheron's Call
Company: Microsoft/Turbine Entertainment
Website: http://www.asheronscall.com
Estimated Street Price: $ 54.95 & $ 9.95 per Month
Ongoing Review By: Byron Hinson/Alex Harris/Dennis Gregory

Ready for the next big game? Well ready or not, here it is. Not only is Asheron's Call revolutionizing MSN's Internet Gaming Zone, but its setting records for the number of players playing a Zone game.  For a game that has been in development for over 2 years, and you'll be surprised all you can do in 2 years!

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The game is quite different from other games because AC can NEVER be completed, and you can never "win" the game. The game has one of the most expansive gaming world in the business with 500 continuous square miles of land. There's always somewhere you can go. In fact, the game will be changing with a major event every month. December's change will include the temperature change! Lets hope the January change isn't a blizzard!

AC will sell at an estimated retail price of $ 54.95, you not only have to pay for the game, but for the monthly online gaming fee as well (after your free month). The online free will be a standard $ 9.95 per month to play and the only way to can purchase a subscription is with a credit card, however, Microsoft is looking into other ways for customers to pay. ActiveWindows will keep you updated if they add any other ways to pay.

The Features

So what are we getting for our money? Well we've compiled a list of features from a press kit we received and Microsoft's AC website:

  • Original Story- Microsoft & Turbine Entertainment have created a story that makes the game fun to play.
  • Character Customization- With more than 16 million different kinds of players you can make, its much easier to decipher you and your friends by looks.
  • Expansive Gaming World- With more than 500 continuous square miles in the game. The world is truly magnificent. Its extremely easy to get lost in a world that includes towns, roads, swamps, rivers, buildings, and dungeons.

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  • Allegiances & Fellowships- Allegiances lets advanced users increase their fame and power by actively recruiting new players and granting them protection, training, and valuable items in exchange for their allegiance
    Fellowships encourage players with complementary skills to team up when they adventure, enabling them to  share the benefits of completing quests and adventures.
  • Advanced Magic System- Thousands of spells and magical items await those who find them. You can discover, research, and learn new spells, but you must also decide whether to share your knowledge or keep it to themselves. The more frequently a spell is cast, the more quickly its power diminishes.
  • Wonderful Graphics= Dazzling Special effects and rich levels of detail in the characters and environments significantly add to the realism in the game.
    The graphics are great with or without a 3-D accelerator. Our first review computer was using a Voodoo 3 2000 card, for all updates after June 2000 we are using a G400.
  • Strategy Based Combat System- AC has a combat system based on area/physics engine that factors in player skills and experience. Combat requires players to consider strategy and tactics as they go into battle.

These features were received from Microsoft's Press Department and Microsoft's Website.

Installation, Settings and Intro

A setup relatively similar to the AOE2 one, its easy and fast. The setup doesn't ask to register nor to reboot which is always a plus whenever your doing an installation and you need to play now.

However, you can't just start playing the game. You have to enter the Zone, and if you don't know what you're doing, you may be forced to download the whole 10 MB download to use it. You can purposely enter the AC area and try to use a room. You'll be prompted if you're a new user or an existing user option. I selected the existing user option and only downloaded about 200k, however as you venture out into the zone you'll be forced to download more.

The game after that is easy to start. Most of the long updates that were involved in the testing of Asheron's Call are all gone. Something else interesting I found... To save room, Microsoft has disabled the intro movies unless you have the CD-ROM in your CD drive. If you have your CD-ROM in your CD drive, it even including a new startup video that was not included in the beta most likely to save download space. You thankfully don't need the CD in the drive to start up the game anymore though.

Character Customization

After you finally get it up and running, you still can't play, but don't worry the next step is fun. One of the features Microsoft extols itself about is their unique character customization. With more than 16 million different character customizations you can select, you can't get bored!

You can select which nationality, sex, occupation, clothes, and even skills. Microsoft and ActiveWin recommends selecting sorcerer so you can test AC's interesting magic spells and options. However, you are free to pick the occupation you'd like to be, all of them are specialized in a particular area.

After you select your character options. You can name your player, be careful as your character info is your trademark for those settings so choose wisely. After it stores your character name on its server click your character and select enter game.

Gameplay

One of the things that this game lacks is the help for new RPG users. However, with Advocates (helper volunteers) in almost all the starting cities, there's a lot more help to help new gamers to the game.

If you're new to role playing games, as I was when I first started, you're lost in the game. you don't know where to start, what to do or even what the purpose is! After reading the tutorials and all the required text, I was still lost. However, the Official Strategies and Secrets for Asheron's Call was a lot of help! Thanks Rusel DeMaria for writing the book! The book is 20 bucks, but if you are willing to learn the way of Asheron's Call it is a lot of help!

The game sets levels for each player and to the date this review was completed, and once you get the flow of the game you'll start going up in the levels before you know it. However, if your new to Role-playing games, you may have some problems accustoming to Asheron's Call new way of gaming.

Hints, tips and cheats can be found all over the internet if you're interested in them even right here on ActiveWin at http://www.activewin.com/asheron

AC creates one of the most life-like abilities in the gaming world. In fact some friends of mine had a surprise party a few weeks ago for someone. It was a lot of fun, although it started raining. Maybe an ActiveWin party would be good. We'll have to check AC's weather channel.

Other than the problems noted above, AC is a wonderful game, and it has managed to "hook" hundreds into playing, any chance they get. As soon as you get a hand on the game, you'll be joining them.

Graphics & Sound

Asheron's Call has some good points with superb graphics and sound effects for an online role playing game being one of them. The sound effects in the game include raindrops, monsters, and much much more! The main problem I have in the game in terms of sound is that monsters sounds can really start to get on your nerves the more you play the game, this means you end up wanting to turn your speakers off half the time, especially early on in the game.

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Magic

The magic on Asheron's Call is one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen. The more you play the more you learn about them and you have to figure out the spells yourself. Of course, you can buy spells from your friends if you'd like to. Although all occupations in Asheron's Call have magic, the Sorcerer occupation seems to have the most spells in the beginning. Once you get a hold on your magic, the whole game of Asheron's Call is at your finger tips.

Final Comments

How It Grades
  Originality: 91%
Gameplay: 93%
Story: 93
Graphics: 78%
Sound: 80%
Music: 65%
Manual: 80%
Interface: 90%
Multiplayer: 95%
Overall: 93%

 

If your interested in a game that's never boring or will never end, Asheron's Call is for you. Because the game is online the world can change at any time. In fact, Turbine Entertainment who developed Asheron's Call says that they will try to make a major change to the world every month. The month of June will see a change in scenery as more plants and trees start to bloom in summer. Next month, who knows! If you'd like to find out what is happening in AC check our home page or gaming homepage daily.

 

Our names on Asheron's Call if you ever want to speak to us

  • Terratogen (Byron)

  • Gehenna II (Alex)

View the Asheron's Call Image Archive

Specs & Package
Overall Score 93%
Version Reviewed Version 1.00.06
Release Date Out now
In The Box? 1 CD
1 Manual
1 Keyboard Layout Card
The Good Points Excellent Graphics
Good Story
Changes every Month
The Bad Points Help doesn't Help with New RPG Gamers
Similar To Everquest
Ultima Online
Reviewers PC Setup AMD K6 Multimedia Extensions 200
Windows 2000
80 Meg SD-Ram
Voodoo 3 2000 PCI
DirectX 7
Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer
PC Required Multimedia PC with a Pentium 166 MHz or higher processor
Microsoft™ Windows™ 95 or Microsoft Windows 98 with DirectX 6; Microsoft™ Internet Explorer version 3.02 or higher, or Netscape 4.0 or higher
32 MB of RAM
150 MB free hard-drive space (25 MB of additional space may be required for Setup to complete successfully)
Quad-speed CD-ROM drive
SVGA monitor (16-bit color), 800x600 display with 1 MB video memory
Microsoft Mouse or other compatible pointing device
Sound card recommended, but not required.
3D accelerators supported

 

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