You are currently viewing an archival version of GF!

Click here to return to the current GamesFirst! website.

Questions? Suggestions? Comments?
Contact us at:

star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)

by Mythic Entertainment

Dark Age of Camelot’s new expansion, Shrouded Isles, is testament to the solid success Mythic Entertainment has enjoyed in the past year. This add-on is priced at around $30, but before you get riled up, trust me when I say it’s worth every penny. Shrouded Isles is just what the doctor ordered for those already immersed in the Dark Age of Camelot world. Still, the new content Mythic is serving up will undoubtedly draw thousands more to their unique servers. When one considers the structure of Dark Age of Camelot, though, anything less would have been unacceptable.

Mythic’s RPG is quite unique in its execution. First of all, players must choose to reside in one of three completely different countries. First, there is the realm of Albion, a land steeped in Arthurian legend. In fact, citizens of Albion can strut their stuff down the streets of Camelot itself. Also, players can choose to set up shop in the land of Hibernia, a realm of magical creatures such as Elves. Finally there is the land of Midgard. This country is described as being the harshest and most unwelcoming of the three. Here players will encounter warlike races such as Dwarves and Trolls. Each realm has its own unique storylines and quests. The three lands also have their own races, barring humans, which may be found on all three continents. The ability to have so many different experiences within one game marks Dark Age of Camelot as one very special title.

Of course this is a great foundation for a successful online RPG, but you might say that Mythic shot themselves in the foot. Any real expansion would have to follow up on three different story arcs, three different continents, and three different racial and class groupings. That’s exactly what Mythic did. You see, anything less just wouldn’t cut it. So let’s get to the guts of this expansion. What can we look forward to?

Things are heating up on each of the three continents with some new story material along with the new races tied to each plot. Albion, under attack by the evil Morgana and her undead minions, receives the aide of Arawn, Lord of the Underworld. Apparently he’s a bit ticked off because Morgana keeps stealing his deceased patrons away from their service to him. To combat this he’s offered his personal servants, the Inconnu. One thing you’ll notice is how great each of the new races is rendered. The Inconnu, which means mysterious, are small of stature and very unique in appearance. Since they have spent their lives serving Arawn underground their skin is pale white and their eyes are unnaturally large and completely black. Even though they’re small, you can tell these guys are capable of some serious damage. Along with their emergence come two new classes they are especially good at, but are available to some of the other races of Albion. First there is the Necromancer class, which any high fantasy fan is familiar with, but Shrouded Isles puts a cool twist on. Naturally one belonging to this class takes the guise of a mage, somewhat weak and easily bested in melee combat. Once the Necromancer summons a creature, though, he or she becomes a wraith, transparent and invulnerable for the duration of the summoned creature’s stay. The other new class is the Reaver, a class more inclined to hand to hand combat. While Reavers are not able to don the heaviest of armor, they are very flexible in the weaponry of Albion. Their specialty, though, is the new set of "flexible" weapons such as whips, flails, and morning stars.

The magical realm of Hibernia introduces a new island called HyBrasil, home of the Sylvans. These tree-like inhabitants are probably the neatest looking of the new races. Unfortunately, they’re being overrun by the evil Fomorians. These invaders have also set the wildlife against the Sylvans, which is unfortunate because the Sylvans are so closely tied to nature. New classes available to Hibernia are Animists and Valewalkers. Animists are mages who use natural forces like plant-life to protect themselves. Valewalkers are melee/mage hybrids that use a scythe in combat to whittle down their foes.

Midgard is seeing its share of conflict on a new island named Aegir. The island, home of the legendary Troll Fathers is under attack by the Morvalt. The Morvalt are humanoid in appearance, but have very savage, beast-like features. A group within the Morvalt has broken away to aid the Trolls in driving out this menace. This is the new playable race on Midgard, but rather than go by Morvalt, this group has adopted the name Valkyn. The two new classes available to players are the Bonedancer and Savage. Bonedancers are spell casters able to reanimate the skeletons of vanquished foes to support them in combat. Advanced Bonedancers will be able to assign different roles to their "pets" like healer, archer, or melee combatant. Savages reject conventional weapons in favor of punching weapons, which can be blunt, piercing, or slashing. Advanced Savages will be able to assail several opponents at once.

If that wasn’t enough, Shrouded Isles also introduces two new crafting options: spellcasting and alchemy. Crafters with these abilities will no doubt be on everyone’s best friend list due to their ability to craft special spells and potions in addition to enhancing weapons and armor. Shrouded Isles also introduces a dueling option. Under dueling rules players may fight each other without fear penalty upon death. Now you’ll be able to duke it out with your best friend without having to worry about any repercussions. Also available are several new slash commands and emotes.

Along with all these great additions come some graphical enhancements. This is most easily recognizable when you lay eyes on the new races. The other races’ appearance pales in comparison to the job done on their new counterparts. Other touches like reflective water have been thrown in. While I applaud all of the great additions in the Shrouded Isles expansion, the visuals are still somewhat disappointing. I’ll be one of the first to say that graphics aren’t everything, but with the bar being raised by games like Asheron’s Call 2, the jagged surroundings and characters of Dark Ages of Camelot prove less than appealing. The animation also leaves much to be desired.

One of the scariest things about playing online RPG’s is whether you’ll be able to come to grips with each game’s interface. While Dark Age of Camelot’s (and Shrouded Isles’ by extension) interface is not the most daunting I’ve ever seen, it definitely jacks up the learning curve for newcomers. Rearranging the keyboard will be a must for most players as well due to the odd arrangement of several important keys. This doesn’t mean you’ll be lost forever per se, just frustrated for a couple hours.

That being said I must reiterate my overall praise of Shrouded Isles. Even those most experienced players will have plenty of new content to refresh them with the multitude of new ground to cover and new races to try. Those hoping to carve out a spot in the world of online RPG’s have definitely got their work cut out for them, but Mythic Entertainment has left a good blueprint for success.

Todd Allen   (01/12/2003)


Ups: Great new races are rendered wonderfully; lots of new territory and mission content.

Downs: Graphics still leave much to be desired; interface remains a bit confusing.

Platform: PC