Dark Age of Camelot is Mythic Entertainment's venture into the world of massive multiplayer online RPG's. Considering there are a copious number of these types of PC games readily available, I thought it would be interesting to see if Mythic was going to offer gamers anything that would take the $10/month fee away from other online RPG's and make gamers want to spend it here. After playing the game for a considerable amount of time, I can say that Dark Age of Camelot is well worth the fee and is probably the most polished and complete online RPG available right now.
Choose your world!
What gamers will notice first is that Camelot offers three distinct worlds to choose from: Hibernia, Albion, and Midgard. All three worlds are completely different, and offer different classes of characters, races, items, etc. Each of the worlds is no small time offer, either; I spent most of my time wandering in Midgard and still didn't see the whole land. The inclusion of such a grand world impressed me thoroughly; with so many options and places, this game would take a long time to grow repetitive, if ever.
The character creation system is basically the same as most other online RPG's, though, with little difference. Choose a race, class, etc., adjust some skills, and you're set. Specific abilities are learned through training with masters littered throughout the lands.
The case with most online RPG's is the lack of an intricate plot to follow; after all, these games are completely non-linear and the implementation of a linear plot with development would make little sense. Camelot is based mainly off Norse mythology; the influences of such works can be readily seen. The basic plot, though, involves the death of King Arthur, and the ensuing darkness that is enveloping the worlds of Camelot. The three worlds are at war, and this is where the fun jumps in.
Solving the PvP problem
Online RPG's usually suffer from the double-edged sword of player versus player (PvP) combat. Gamers want the inclusion of such a mode, but the repercussions of such an aspect are something that most online RPG's forget: looting, murderers, etc. Camelot masterfully plays this into the game's story, and weaves it in such a manner that can only be chalked up to brilliance.
Since there are three distinct worlds, or "realms" in Camelot, the player versus player combat is set up as follows: all members of your realm, whether it is Hibernia, Albion or Midgard, are your friends, and you cannot attack them. However, all members of other realms are your enemies. One of the game's objects is to raid other realms, pillage and destroy! Basically, a team of players from Midgard can hop over to Hibernia and show up as enemies to all Hibernia natives, and vice versa. Those Midgard intruders want to kill and destroy as much as possible, and steal as much war booty as they can haul back home. This is in my opinion an ingenious idea that allows for the growth of younger players without the dangers of seasoned veteran gamers that enjoy having fun killing newbie players left and right.
Pretty polygons…take that, EverQuest!
The world of Camelot, while not on par with such graphically inclined products like Max Payne, is probably the best looking 3-D online RPG available. Textures are noticeably more detailed than games like EverQuest, Asheron's Call, and Anarchy Online. The characters themselves are incredibly detailed; studded armor looks incredibly impressive and detailed, and the various textures on houses and huts in towns, cities, and forts look distinct and are anything but bland.
The weather effects are welcome, with effects such as the splashing of the raindrops hitting wet soil as your character prepares to swim across one of the many rivers littered throughout Camelot. I will say the water effects themselves (swimming) could have been better, but that's about the only gripe I can think of.
Sounds good, eh?
Dark Age of Camelot has, hands down, the best quality music of any online RPG I've been privy to play (and that's basically all of them). Every song, from the loading screen to the battle theme, has a distinct melody that will not be forgotten, and a flavor that fits the Norse setting of the game perfectly. The themes are welcome pieces that enhance the game rather than detract from it (i.e. Ultima Online).
The sound effects, while not as impressive as the mood-setting soundtrack, are on par with those in EverQuest; basically, sound effects that you'll remember forever, such as the sound of a hobgoblin dying. Sword clashes and clangs are all standard fare.
Wandering the worlds
Dark Age of Camelot is a blast to play. Online RPG's are known for their "virtual crack" like addiction qualities, and Camelot is no exception to that. Most gamers will find themselves sticking close to the city or town they first spawned near early in their gaming hours, in order to level up and gain skills and experience. Once you're confident enough to take on the world, you can begin specific quests, join or create guilds, or raid opposing realms in order to gain land, power, fame, and women! Well, maybe everything but the women part.
There are thousands of people to interact with, many different towns and cities, and enough variety in Camelot so that even by the hundredth hour playing you'll still bump into something new or different. It's that expansive! Thanks to the fully customizable controls, accessing vital areas of character control is a breeze, and the on-screen menus are clear cut, with hot key allocations and macro options.
Dark Age of Camelot comes with a completely free thirty day trial that does not require a credit card. That's right; you can buy the game and play for a whole month without having to enter anything of that sort. So what are you waiting for? Dark Age of Camelot has proved that is has what it takes to play with the veterans of the online RPG world. Its innovations and improvements over some of the usual aspects of other online RPG's make it well deserving of a trial period. This one comes highly recommended from Bahamut.