Asheron's Call Review

For PC

By Contributing Writer Rob Pecknold

Rating: Good
   In an attempt to monopolize people's lives in addition to their desktops, 
Microsoft has released a new online RPG in the same vein as EverQuest.  
Like EverQuest, Asheron's Call can be a very engrossing and addictive game.  
But for $10 per month, and with a game world better suited for a single-
player RPG, Asheron's Call is starting to look a bit more like Asseron's 
Call (sorry, I've been reading too much PC Accelerator).
   In Asheron's Call, you can customize your character's appearance, what 
skill they specialize in, what race they are, and just about anything else 
you can think of.  While you won't be able to create, say, a midget 
enchantress/dominatrix that always gets her man, the three races provide a 
pretty good starting point for the game.  However, it's ridiculous that you 
can't play as any kind of elf or dwarf.  Also, the ability to play as a 
monster is missing in this game.  As beautiful and detailed as the towns 
are, they all seem drab when there are nothing but humans running around in 
   The real joy of Asheron's Call comes from the fact that it is always 
being updated.  I can't tell you how excited I was when I entered the game 
on the first day of the Big Snow (not to be confused with the WWF's Big 
Show).  The entire world of Dereth (where the game takes place) was a 
virtual winter wonderland, with a whole bunch of bug fixes to boot!  
Everything was covered in snow, festivals ran rampant, and it seemed like I
was in a new world entirely.  
   One of the best aspects of Asheron's Call is its allegiance system.  
Basically, you have the ability to ally with a character who is stronger 
than you, and that character will then help you through dungeons, give you 
equipment and money, and possibly become a good friend of yours.  The 
allegiance system makes the game much less intimidating when you first 
start playing.
   While most players speak normally in the game, there are still many who 
speak in the language of Role Player.  To give you an example of what I'm 
talking about, here's a typical conversation between players speaking two 
totally different languages.

Role Player: Hail, fellow traveler of Dereth!  Tis a fine afternoon, fit 
for trading and bartering with Ven Ounan, resident blacksmith!

Other Player: Uh, sure.  Why not?  Go to the smith if you want.

Role Player: Surely you jest, Spanky of Yomama!  Shant you be accompanying 

Other Player: Ah, you go on ahead.  It's to the left.

Role Player: The left?  Ah, surely you meant to say to the northwest!  
Indeed, I shall head that way hitherto.

Other Player: Whatever.  See ya man.

Role Player: Farewell, traveler!  I shall remember our experience well, and 
hold it in my heart as a prime example of the pride of my fellow 
adventurers in Dereth!

   Just because I had a lot of fun with Asheron's Call doesn't mean that 
you will, because the experience of playing the game is different for 
everybody.  One player could hate the game because he can't find anyone to 
ally with, and another player could love the game because he makes some 
great friends and always has a nice time going hunting with them.  
   I believe that Asheron's Call would have been much better as a single-
player RPG.  Without having to write network code and optimize the game for 
different modem speeds, the developers could have spent the extra time 
adding music to the game and fixing the insanely bad player models.  The 
models are very low-quality for the sake of the game's speed, and they're 
so bad that they pull you out of the game too much for you to really care 
about what's happening to you.
   After a while, Asheron's Call seems way too much like a nice-looking 
chat room.  It seems that you spend most of your time typing, and nowhere 
near enough time adventuring.  With plenty of interesting background story, 
a single-player RPG based in the world of Dereth could be a classic.  As a 
multi-player RPG, Asheron's Call ends up being merely good.

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