December 4, 2007

A common refrain you’ll hear often amongst a lot of stalwart MMO players is that the next evolution of the MMORPG has to be focused first and foremost around a fun, balanced PvP component. These gamers, usually with long histories in other PvP-centric MMOs like Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot, and EVE Online, are a fairly vocal minority, but a minority nonetheless. The qualities that have endeared monster hits like Everquest and World of Warcraft have been the PvE and social aspects, for the most part. Fury is a game developed with that PvP crowd specifically in mind. The problem is, it seems like developer Auran never really stopped to consider whether the game that players have been clamoring for was actually such a great idea as described.

Truthfully, it’s hard to describe Fury as an MMORPG at all. In reality, it’s something of a spell-based third-person shooter. The only really persistent element is a sort of lobby, where you can find almost all of your NPCs and most of the players waiting to get into a battle. The meat of the game is played within instanced battles, in one of three separate gameplay types. There’s Bloodbath (deathmatch), Elimination (team deathmatch), and Vortex (multi-flag CTF), and that’s it. Progression is entirely measured within the prism of player versus player combat. I don’t mean to make it seem like these options are necessarily shallow–many an FPS has flourished with a similar range of gameplay options, but compared to its competitors on the market it seems a little flat.

This lack of depth might be more forgivable if the combat were actually something worth playing for any extended period of time. Fighting is fast, frenetic, and above all chaotic. You can have 24 spells hotkeyed at any one time, and there’s a massive list of spells available. Even for players who are given to this sort of nuanced cost/benefit analysis, it’s just too much. Spell effects are often redundant, and with the gameplay being as ridiculously fast as it is by virtue of the brisk run speed and quick spell-recharge times, the action on screen is nothing more than a garbled mess of flashing lights. The auto-targeting, which might have mitigated this problem, is unreliable.

Graphically, Fury is a pretty game to behold, when it actually runs as intended. At times it flexes the Unreal 3 engine quite well, but when too much starts happening on-screen (which is just about always) there’s a lot of stuttering, teleporting, and just general confusion. Spell damage and status effects flash colored text above players’ heads, but with all the action on-screen, it tends to congeal into a curious blob of letters and half-information. Don’t even bother trying to play this game if you’re not well into the recommended specs though, because Fury will eat your machine alive.

Usually one would have to be hesitant to review an MMO and slap a score on it. They’re games that develop over long periods of time, and many of them age like a good bottle of wine. Fortunately for this reviewer, Fury is not really an MMO as such. It takes many of the elements of MMO PvP combat and tries to synthesize them down into a simpler product. If simpler was their charge though, developer Auran has done quite the opposite. They’ve taken fun gameplay mechanics and watered them down with their lack of focus and vision. The end result is a game that not only fails to justify a monthly fee, but isn’t quite worth the purchase price to begin with.

Score: 1/5

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