Allods Online • Page 2

The Astral plain.

For instance, you can buy Bags of Crystal Chips used in combining runes, or a special Pick for removing runes after you've used them - runes being used in Allods to boost your equipment, or they being placed on chests before you open them to increase the chance of them containing a certain type of item.

You can also buy Deposit Boxes from the item shop to increase your bank storage, waters of Life or Death that let you respec your stats or talents, fancy backpacks, powerful buffing potions and so on, and judging by all the tabs in the item shop which are currently empty ('Style', 'Holiday Items') this is only a taste of what's to come.

Allods is a competent piece of work outside of its sales showroom, too. Starting with a hugely bombastic tutorial, new players find themselves controlling fledgling soldiers working either for the goody-two-shoes League, operating out of its squint-and-it's-Stormwind capital, or the more modern Empire, who are best described as Soviet Steampunk. Think mages wrestling with red tape and orcs carrying riot shields beneath gigantic statues of heroes of the People and you're half-way there. Almost needless to say, each side is a coalition of different races and they are at War with one another, which manifests itself as lone players beating one another up at every opportunity.

But there's more, a great deal more for the zero monies you pay for Allods. The game's engine is pretty and smooth, the writing's fun, character development is relatively complex and the art is gorgeous. And while Allods blatantly takes all of its cues from WOW, neatly aping not just the combat and structure but also the art's colourful, animated tone (right down to the golden question marks of quest-givers), it's also fairly rich in ideas, just as long as those ideas can be implemented without snapping bits off Blizzard's holy foundation.

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I bet wind elementals have huge inferiority complexes and are always making backhanded comments at fire elementals.

For example, your character gets a talent tree, but also a talent grid reminiscent of recent Final Fantasy games; placing a new ruby at each level, you spread across three boards unique to your class, getting a buff here and a new skill there. Certain trade professions are given a shot in the arm with mini-games, and there's a new "Disassembling" profession which lets you retrieve components from magical items, crafted or otherwise.

While all the character classes you'd recognise from WOW are here (albeit with different names), there's also the invention of the Psionicist, which is half a damage class and half a debilitating class, with powers of confusion and paralysis. Psionicists are all about creating a Mental Link with a single opponent and then ruining their life, making them particularly hateful in player-versus-player.

Finally, there's Allods Online's dirty great selling point. Allods' world is made up of disconnected islands (allods) floating in endless astral space, and the highest level allods are only accessible via your very own enormous astral ship. Endgame raiding involves forming a crew to man one of these ships, and potentially engaging in ship-versus-ship PvP on your way to an instanced allod. Ship combat is probably less interesting than it sounds - ships are basically floating bits of level, and manning the guns consists of 'using' a cannon like you would a door or treasure chest to make it fire along a fixed horizontal line.

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