Mar 9 2006
Lineage 2 is almost 2 years old now and players are currently working their way through Chronicle 4: Scions of Destiny, the game's latest free content addition. If you're not familiar with the Lineage series, they are leading MMORPGs in Korea where they were developed, and they have subscribers that number in the millions overseas. They haven't been a huge success in North America, but Lineage 2 is making an effort to break into this market.
Online games of this kind are constantly changing, and Lineage 2 is no exception. Along with a steady stream of bug fixes and content updates, adjustments have been made to lessen the "grind" that is often associated with this series. Chronicle 4 is the largest update the game has seen so far. Lineage 2 remains one of only a few games that feature large-scale PvP guild battles for territorial control of the game world.
Graphics and Interface
The graphics in Lineage 2 have aged extremely well and the game still looks great. Some of the environmental effects, such as water, aren't quite up to what the latest games have to offer, but for a seamless world it certainly holds its own. The player and creature models are remarkably detailed.
Lineage 2 has earned a bit of a reputation for its female character models, which often look more like they belong in a beauty pageant than a war with ferocious beasts, especially given how scant their "armor" is. I don't doubt for a second that it appeals to hormone drenched teenage boys, but would a warrior of any gender go into battle with their underwear showing? Yeah, it's a fantasy game, and I guess this criticism could be levied against the industry as a whole.
The GUI is remarkably clean and uses screen space very efficiently. I'd rather have a mini-map than the compass, and a few more options would be welcome, but it's intuitive enough to adjust to quickly.
The game was designed to be played from the third-person point of view, although it is possible to get right into your character's eyes. Movement is accomplished by pointing and clicking, which is the norm for Korean RPGs, but North Americans seem to prefer keyboard movement controls. You can move with the arrow keys, but the options for customizing key bindings are sadly limited.
To start out, Lineage gives you a choice of 5 races: Human, Elf, Dark Elf, Orc and Dwarf. Dwarves differ significantly from the other races in that they only have one initial class option, and they are the only race with crafting skills.
Once you've settled on a race and gender, you decide between 2 starting classes: Fighter and Mystic. As you would expect, Fighters use weapons and Mystics use spells. This may not seem like much of a choice, but you do get to pick additional classes as you advance. It's worth having a look at the class structure before you get started to ensure you're on the right path.
The skills you have are decided by what class you choose. As a Fighter, I had one special attack for each of 3 different weapons to start out. A few additional skills become available after picking your second class, but it's still a pretty sparse collection compared to most other games of this kind. You certainly won't have shortcut bars all over the screen, which maybe just as well, because I couldn't find any way to bring up more than one shortcut bar at a time.
If you've played an RPG before, you have a pretty good idea what to expect from combat in Lineage 2. Select a target, hit attack, use a special attack every so often if you have the mana, and gather the loot when it's all over. One feature unique to this game is the use of Soulshots and Spiritshots, which boost the power of a weapon or spell for a single blow. They are similar to special attacks, except that they are items, they don't require mana, and they have no cool down, meaning that you can use one every hit if you want. The hitch is that because they are items, you will run out of them and you'll have to purchase more.
If you've heard anything about Lineage 2, you've likely heard that it takes a lot of very repetitive monster bashing, tellingly referred to as "grinding," to make any progress through the game. This is fairly typical of MMORPGs from Korea, and it is probably the main thing that has held Lineage 2 back in North America. If you watch your experience bar, you'll quickly realize that you may have to kill several hundred lizardmen to reach the next level, which can be pretty discouraging. You can also expect quite a bit of downtime waiting for your health and mana to recharge when they get too low.
Although tougher mobs are worth a little more experience, the quickest way to level is to fight easy monsters, because your downtime will minimized and there is no risk of death, which carries fairly serious penalities. Under normal circumstances, you come back to life in the nearest town with an experience loss and a chance to drop an item from your inventory. In PvP situations like sieges, the XP loss is smaller and you don't drop items.