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by Maximum Charisma Studios

3-01.jpg (5523 bytes)Sometimes it is a struggle to determine exactly how to apply standard criteria to a particular game, or better yet, exactly how to interpret those criteria. For example, am I trying to examine a game for its hidden excellence (or mediocrity) or am I looking for how well it meets basic standards for gaming? Fighting Legends Online is one those games that throws me into such a quandary. The game is too good to give it a one star rating, which to me represents excellence in mediocrity – and which can sometimes be a challenge to achieve. How can a game be so bad, it’s good? It probably takes years of training and experience to arrive at such a plateau. Unfortunately, Fighting Legends Online does not deserve such an honor. At the same time, I do not feel as though this game has met many of the minimum requirements for basic gaming, much less online gaming, which requires additional financial investment in order to play.

7-01.jpg (5708 bytes)The basic premise of Fighting Legends Online is quite simple, at least for the genre of MMORPG (Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game): a catastrophic event in space has caused a huge transport (of unknown origin, of course) to crash land on a planet. The survivors have adapted to meet the challenges of their particular habitats, developing specialized skills and powers to face the harsh demands of their new environments. Naturally, these groups cannot ignore their differences in order to find ways of helping each other to survive; instead, the player is placed in a position to create and train a group of specialized warriors that must combat and defeat all comers. (Whatever happened to "Can’t we all just get along?")

6-01.jpg (7530 bytes)Players are allowed to develop different characters with particular combat or technical strengths, just like in almost every other MMORPG game around. These developments and enhancements require materials and resources in order to progress. Players use portable bases to acquire these materials. The actual production and acquisition of materials is handled automatically and can be enhanced through combat situations where defeating roaming monsters will generate additional materials. However, this establishes one of the first problems I have with the game: materials can only be obtained when a base is established, yet the character can only move a limited distance when the base is in operation. In other words, you are tethered to a specific area like a dog on a chain while you wait for materials to accumulate, and what’s worse is that these materials don’t grow overnight. Most of the time, characters just sit around waiting for a monster to wander within the zone of death or count the minutes until they have enough materials to grow an additional ally to help them out. Be prepared to wait a LONG time in order to build any kind of decent fighting force. This is definitely not a game for quick gamers who want to jump online for a couple of minutes, then take off. It requires a lot of time commitment, and unfortunately, a lot of that time is spent waiting for resources to add up so that I could have enough characters to fight a decent battle without getting my butt kicked.

2-01.jpg (7622 bytes)The fighting itself is not too bad; combat is relatively simple, though it feels as though this game belongs more on a console than a PC. The command and hot key structure is such that game pads are much more convenient and appropriate than the use of a mouse-keyboard combination. I would not be surprised if this game was to port over to the X-Box or PS2 in the future-- to any console system with decent online capabilities. In fact, I would wager that my impressions might be more positive if this game had been originally released for a console. The entire atmosphere seems to be more that of a console game than MMORPGs like Shattered Galaxy, Mimesis, or Asheron’s Call.

4-01.jpg (8584 bytes)The graphics seemed very simplistic, especially for a game with relatively high requirements such as 16 MB of video RAM, (the game actually recommends at least 32 MB), and 700Mhz processor speeds or higher. Once again, the first thought that occurred to me when watching the opening credits and playing through a few quests was that I was playing a console port to a PC. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this, but it did seem to be just a bit too strange for me to get accustomed to.

1-01.jpg (8624 bytes)As a side note, there was one aspect of the installation and operation of Fighting Legends Online that really concerned me. In order to install and play Fighting Legends Online, I was required to provide some form of payment, such as a credit card or PayPal account, should I exceed the initial trial period. Mind you, this was not a request or option – it was mandatory; installation would not continue until I provided this kind of information. I am not exactly sure what the idea behind this activity is (I mean, you can’t really play these kinds of games if your account is not up to date) so what does the purpose of prepayment serve? It really bothered me to have to provide this kind of information (even if it was in a secure environment, which I am sure Maximum Charisma is careful to provide) before I could even play the game for the first time. I knew nothing about the game or its designers, yet they expected me to demonstrate a great deal of faith that their game would prove worthy of these steps. They also made it clear that if I continued to play past the trial period, my account would be charged for the monthly membership fee, unless I cancelled the account prior to that date. I was left asking what the point of a trial period was if payment options had to be provided before that trial even took place. I know that I could cancel that membership at any time, yet the onus was on me as a customer, not on the game provider. There just seems to be something about the customer dynamic being created by this process that I find very troubling.

5-01.jpg (9293 bytes)As I have said, Fighting Legends Online is a premium MMORPG, which means there is a monthly charge to access the game servers and operate characters in the game. This charge, $10 in the case of Fighting Legends Online, causes me as a reviewer to hold these games to a higher standard; having no options for single player gaming, the basic premise is that you have to pay in order to keep playing the game. This being the case, the continuation of payment must be merited by excellence in gaming experience or by providing some aspect of gaming that proves unique or spectacular.

This is not the case with Fighting Legends Online; the gaming is relatively simplistic, though it does require a torturous wait to arrive a point where the real gaming can take place. These considerations make Fighting Legends Online an addition to the MMORPG genre, but not one that I would run to take part in. The same kinds of gaming experience can be found in much more enjoyable environments with much more engaging game concepts and execution.

Clayn Lambert   (02/26/2002)


Ups: It isn't horrible.

Downs: Pre-pay to play requirement; simple, lengthy and annoying gameplay elements; doesn't compare with other titles in the genre; just feels weirdly unenjoyable.

Platform: PC