Shadowlands (Anarchy Online) - Reception


Review scores
Publication Score
G4 4 / 5 (Alien Invasion)
GameSpot 7.6 / 10

8.5 / 10 (Shadowlands)

GameSpy 79 / 100

4 / 5 (Shadowlands)

3.5 / 5 (Alien Invasion)

GamesRadar 7 / 10 (Lost Eden)
IGN 7.2 / 10

8.8 / 10 (Shadowlands)

After the launch of Anarchy Online and the subsequent technical problems, Funcom issued a statement to reviewers asking them to "hold back on a full review until we have solved these problems." Some video game reviewers, such as Computer Games Magazine, published reviews anyway; others, such as GameSpy who described the game as "nearly unplayable", chose to wait one month before publishing a formal review. The troubled release has had a lasting effect on the game's reputation, and is nearly always mentioned in the generally positive reviews of later expansion packs as a juxtaposition.

While Anarchy Online's launch problems had a negative effect on initial critics, the game itself was generally reviewed favorably; it scored an average of 7.6 out of 10 from GameSpy, GameSpot, and IGN. GameSpy later described it as "a promising game with some big technical flaws." IGN called it a "brilliant, engaging, profound MMORPG," but added it came with "atrocious technical problems." PC Gamer magazine said that it "will be the next great MMORPG," but that the game needed "some serious work" before it would reach its potential; they would award the game with Best Massively Multiplayer Game the next year.

Computer Gaming Magazine described Anarchy Online as a "'science-fiction' Everquest"—Everquest was a popular fantasy MMORPG at the time—in that it took the traditional fantasy elements of the genre and gave them "science-y sounding" words. They went on to praise the game's large, detailed game world, and its "evolutionary" user interface. GameSpy said the game's soundtrack was "grand, cinematic, and very appropriate" in their review. PC Gamer magazine said that the intricate skill system gave the game "incredible character depth".

The dynamic mission system was met with mixed reviews. PC Gamer called it a "brilliant" solution to camping — the practice of waiting for a computer - controlled character in the outdoor game world to appear so that it can be killed and items looted. Computer Gaming Magazine said that while the missions were a good idea in theory, they are "too simple and similar", claiming that this caused players to become bored and camp for items outside anyway. Visually, they called the missions "cramped, boxy, and generally unappealing," compared to the rest of the game.

The first booster pack Notum Wars was released in 2002; at that time, the first expansion pack Shadowlands had already been announced. Staci Krause of IGN noted the new character creation interface made the game's introduction to new players easier. The "land control" areas, one of the major additions in Notum Wars, were described by Krause as "not only interesting, but fun." She also said that the new additions to the game world, and improvements to the 3D rendering engine, "add to the sense that Rubi-Ka is a busy planet." Yahoo! criticized the land control areas as being complicated and expensive, and said that participation in battles was difficult for players not in an organization.

The Shadowlands expansion was the most critically acclaimed by far, winning several Editor's Choice Awards from IGN, CNet, GameSpot, GameSpy and others in 2003. Critics applauded the size and scope of it, such as Andrew Park of GameSpot who called it "absolutely enormous." Tom Chick of GameSpy praised the "distinctive and exotic" art direction of the new areas. Critics of Shadowlands noted that the expansion's design was too "fantasy oriented", as compared to the original game.

Alien Invasion, released in 2004, did not receive the same abundance of praise as its predecessor, although most scores were above 7 out of 10. The new content it introduced, in critics' eyes, was not designed for new players. G4 TV wrote that it would be a "tough sell to new players", but added it "offer existing players a solid reason to keep playing." GameSpy wrote that the expansion's new features, such as improved user interface and chat system, "make the game more enjoyable to play."

After twelve years, Anarchy Online has become one of the longest-running MMORPGs in operation. Publications who had reviewed the game's previous additions did not review the Lost Eden expansion in 2006, or the Legacy of The Xan booster in 2009. Games Radar's Sarah Borger wrote of Lost Eden that the game's aging graphics and user interface "make the world hard to interact with," but she went on to acclaim the new player versus player content it added.

Read more about this topic:  Shadowlands (Anarchy Online)

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