Indsendt: 4. januar
Let me get the first issue out of the way: everything
is server-side. Positioning, projectile paths, health, and loot -- the entire game-state is determined there.
This may not seem like such a bad thing, since many online games are like that. But in this game especially, an action game that demands precision and timing, even a small amount of latency can mess up an otherwise perfectly executed run, and it places an inherent limit on level design.
Imagine you've got a lame ISP, or you live somewhere many miles away from the servers, like Australia. See that wheel rolling down the field towards you? Yeah, it's already hit you. Since your connection isn't that great, the server won't realize you've moved your character out of the way until it's too late, and by then it'll already have decided that you've been hit.
See that energy bolt the gun puppy just fired? No, you didn't dodge it, sorry. What, you moved away, changing direction at the last second? Oh, but the way the system works, it continuously executes the last command your client sends to the server (which is why you sometimes see people running into the wall when they disconnect). It sure would be horrible if it was just a little bit too slow to send your desire to move away, huh?
This is why I find the combat in something like Phantasy Star Online 2 to be more satisfying. It wouldn't really be suitable for this game, but in PSO2, your interactions with enemies are client-side. You are always positioned at where you appear, and you will never be hit by something that shouldn't have hit you due to latency delay. This has a side-effect of making partying with others slightly confusing, but at least there it is impossible to blame the system for your death. Making these actions client-side has other effects on the game, like the risk of opening the game up to hacking, and occasional difficulty working in sync with your party, but that's all beyond the scope of this review.
By contrast, in Spiral Knights, you will never see a timing challenge any more stressful than slowly walking across some trap panels as they alternate their active states. You will never see any truly fast enemy or anything that represents an actual danger as evidenced by updates that have neutered enemy AI and behaviors within the last few years. To be fair, OOO has made several valiant attempts to remedy this, through shadow lairs and various danger missions(the dailies, Grinchlin, Tortodrone). But new, truly challenging missions have been few and far in between, and everybody's already figured out the lairs and the dailies.
...And don't be fooled by the apparently low sys reqs on steam. If your graphics card and processor aren't up to snuff, MARVEL AT YOUR REVOLUTIONARY 10 AND SOMETIMES 5 FRAMES PER SECOND
So what does
this game have going for it?
It is sort of perversely like Blizzard art direction, in which it is well made, with strong detail and proper form. And, also like Blizzard art direction, it hides a somewhat simple, perhaps even degenerate, game behind its pretty veneer.
Anyway, the style here is very simple, yet engaging. It draws you in, entices you. It is kind of like Maplestory in this regard, and that game had a TON of charm. Yet, rather also like Maplestory, it doesn't really have a lot of depth to it. And again they're both pretty much full of absurdly rich, absurdly bored people playing dress-up these days.
So why do I still play it? Nostalgia for what used to be. And a desire for a game like this that does everything better.
In response to a particular comment I wrote the following text. It merits inclusion in the review:
My internet connection is great. But so much of this game seem to have been tailored to suit a sub-par connection. A few years ago, enemy AI used to be more difficult. Now, wolvers and zombies are motor-impaired. Retrode lasers are a joke. The only monster families that pose any real challenge now are the fiends and gremlins, and even then, fiends were slightly nerfed a few months ago. It is no accident that the most challenging missions (notably, Grinchlin Assault and Tortodrone) feature them prominently.
And some of my friends HATE it. A good connection -- and a good computer! -- seems to be the only reason I can appreciate these missions because without both they are almost unplayable.
Almost, because, well, a few years back I used to play this on a crappy laptop. It gave me 24fps AT BEST, and I was still able to perform FSC runs quite handily(but anything beyond a shadow lair level of difficulty was impossible, because the integrated graphics chip just couldn't handle it).