Gameplay is the most important part of any game, and NCSoft seems to have forgotten this. Lineage II is simply boring to play. There's nothing to keep users playing, and no drive for advancement unless you are one of those extremely desperate for the clan-based PvP. In most MMORPGs, combat is at least somewhat entertaining, quests are interesting, and advancement brings new surprises and keeps characters traveling so the scenery never gets too old. Lineage II disregards all of that tried and true wisdom for single-click combat (during which I actually did go make a sandwich on several occasions), quests that have players do the same thing for hours on end, and scenery that rarely changes. There is a theory that Lineage II is an experiment in monotony, and its effects on thousands of simultaneous "monotones". If this theory is true, the scientists must have some very interesting, or rather uninteresting, data.
Man... I am so sick of walking!The graphics of Lineage II are a mixed bag. The visuals on one screen can be good enough to rival most things on the market, and then on the next make you wonder why you need a two hundred dollar graphics card to run it. Character and some enemy models look stunning. The curves (of which there are plenty) are curvy, the armor's rivets are gleaming, and the characters' physiques are realistic and interesting. However, the character models do have some cloning issues. With only one or two options for customization, there's a max of 5 to 7 builds for a given race. Newbie areas look like clone spawning grounds, and only clothing armor, hats and accessories give a unique look on the character.
The other problem with Lineage II's graphics is the terrain. While the sprawling lands are geographically realistic, complete with rolling hills that look pulled from a picture tour of the Midwest and mountain ranges gamers will swear they've climbed in real life, the world is an interesting place to explore. As it was said of the classic The Wizard of OZ, every shot could be framed as a postcard. As realistic as the world appears, the terrain graphics are shockingly bad. Grassy fields will often appear as a blob of spilled green paint, and mountains often have placeholder polygons appear right up until your character steps onto the void.
The sounds of Aden, the world that Lineage II takes place on, make up the blandest soundtrack I have heard on a commercially released game. Characters and enemies each make a sound or two, but these are probably only in place to keep players just annoyed enough to stay awake through the tedium of killing the beasts. Music is fair, though there are no tracks that truly stand out, and it's not a soundtrack that many people will run out and buy.
Is it a party, or a battle? You decide...NCSoft has released a new chronicle, which is similar to a small expansion pack. The pack, titled Chronicle I, added the much-loved castles that clans war over. It also revamped the clan system, tweaked the monsters, revamped the cities, and fixed a few buggy issues. These changes have been well loved by the game community, and added some needed features. There is a second chronicle planned, which should release in the near future.
Lineage II has the inner builds of a good game, and could easily be revamped to be an enjoyable experience. However, the execution is terrible. Any game in which I must kill fifty of the same creature in order to gain access to a quest that lets me kill fifty enemies that look identical and have only two letters difference in their name could use some creativity on its development team. At the user level, Lineage II cries out for a real experience; something to do. NCSoft seems to have dropped the ball with this one; hopefully their upcoming MMO releases will be good enough to flush this one right out of mind.
+ Sole provider of MMO clan-based medieval warfare
+ Fair model graphics
+ Interestingly realistic world
- Inanely monotonous gameplay
- "Sound quality" is oxymoronic
- Poor geographic graphics
Lineage II is made for a very specific group of players. Since there are some peak player times, most of the crowd that will find Lineage II enjoyable, or even playable, seems to already have found the game. Players looking for a true MMORPG experience should look far from here, probably in the direction of World of Warcraft or EverQuest II. Lineage II is only for overly-patient, clan-loving players who want to fight en masse. Since more polished, better playing games offer similar experiences without the days worth of monotony, there is little call for this game.
Reviewed by Greg Atkinson