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Perfect World International First Impressions

Posted Wed, Dec 31, 2008 by Dalmarus

Perfect World International has left its baby beta steps and leaped onto the adult stage. It's been winning awards in the Eastern hemisphere faster than organizations can send out nominations. With the enormous amount of F2P games available (and perfectly accepted, unlike here in North America) in that part of the world, that's an impressive show of force. With the title recently going live (and releasing an expansion) for this side of the world, I had to take some time to see what the hubbub was all about.

You should never have trouble finding a group.

Perfect World has a pretty standard background story. A god created an unnamed, flawed race, condemned them to death, and then started over again. He made three races -  humans, the untamed, and winged elves - and set them in the world with the dream of a harboring a perfect utopia. We've all seen how well that idea works out, no matter how you break it down, so skip ahead a few hundred years and things have started to sink into the crapper. The humans and elves are fighting when the previously assumed eradicated race returns in wraith form and sets out to bring about the end of the world. Good luck! This is where you come in to save the day, and I hope you had your Wheaties this morning because you're going to need them.

Before I even hit the start button, I looked at the initial screen and nearly wept with joy. The heavens parted and the angels sang out in exuberant harmony. Why? Because Perfect World is one of the few games I've run across lately that has a settings button available to me before I log into the game. It may seem like a small point to some, but in this day and age, with the current hardware available to the masses (let alone the beast that resides on my desk), I don't understand why I'm continually forced to log into a game at a resolution of 800x600. I don't think I've had a screen that small for almost 5 years now.

Don't even get me started on all the other asinine settings each game tends to start at. If you're worried players won't be able to load the game successfully on their first attempt, this is a much better solution than defaulting us to settings a Commodore 64 would consider easy to process. It instantly puts a bad taste in my mouth when it happens and there's no need for it. Who would have thought something as simple as a settings button could bring such merriment?

You'd smack something that grinned like that too.

For any of my long time readers (and heck, even my short timers), you know that a lack of character customization is one of my biggest pet peeves in all games, let alone F2P ones. I recently hailed CoX for their outstanding costume customization options. CoX may be the ruling masters of costumes, but Perfect World is now the undisputed world champion in the ring of facial and body customization. I have yet to come across any MMOG (and I've played more than I care to think about), whether F2P or subscription based, that comes remotely close to the customization available in Perfect World. For years, Star Wars Galaxies has been recognized as the title holder, but no more.

In this regard, I think Perfect World is worlds ahead of every other game currently available right now, hands down. While there are a number of different preset options available to use, you can change everything about your character’s basic features and body structure. Stunned doesn't begin to describe the feeling I had when I began delving into this side of character creation.

With my untamed barbarian created, I hopped into the game to see just how much trouble I could get myself into. Upon logging in, I was shocked again. The sheer number of players I discovered in the newbie area was amazing! This wasn't opening day, or 6 PM at night. I logged in somewhere around 10AM on a weekday. Initially, I thought maybe it was because of the time difference between this side of the world and the other, but the cacophony of English spoken chat cruising along my chat window like a Lamborghini on the Autobahn told me otherwise. Peak load times should be an interesting sight to say the least.

Up until now, the game had been pure awesomeness served with a side of uber. It's a simple matter of physics though - everything that goes up must come down. The good news is that while coming down off my initial high, I never hit the bottom. Kudos!

There are a few things in the game that take some getting used to. The camera control and hotkey choices are top among my two complaints with the game so far. If I had the ability to map my keys however I wanted, I wouldn't even mention these issues, but chalk up another mark against an eventual perfect score for Perfect Worlds.

For some reason, I actually think this is just a difference between the East and West in terms of "the norm". A number of games I've played that came from our neighbors across the sea use the functions keys (F1, F2, and so on) in place of our standard 1, 2, 3 configurations for their hotbar abilities. It doesn't take a long time to adjust to these settings, but even after playing for some time, I'd find myself jumping around the keyboard like a puppy with a full bladder in my spastic attempts to hit the correct key in the heat of battle.

*insert "size of his hammer" joke here*

The camera control still has me messed up. That may not be the correct way to phrase it, but the fact that the camera remains stationary when you move and turn is what has me messed up. If you're running along, then turn left (using the standard WASD setup), the camera doesn't follow behind your character and now you're looking at a side view. Again, I think it may simply be a standardization difference between the hemispheres, but it's extremely disconcerting at times. Eventually, I discovered if you hold the right mouse button down, you can turn with the mouse instead. Once I figured this out, things went silky smooth... until I let go of the button during combat. Sooner or later, I'm convinced I'll actually learn.

I can't wait to hit level 30 and get my own flying mount. Some of the mounts shown off by the myriad of players scampering about just want to make you drool with envy. I saw everything from flying manta rays to dragons. For years, companies have been telling me I’ll be able to have a dragon for a mount, yet I still have no flying reptile of death and destruction to call my very own. I’ve seen them in game, so it’s only a matter of time before I finally erase this previous indiscretion.

Combat is relatively standard and some of the initial mobs may look a little goofy, but the game has proven itself worthy of a far deeper look, so stay tuned for a full-blown review of Perfect World International in the future. If you've got some time and are looking for a new F2P MMOG to take up your time, Perfect World is absolutely worth the price of admission.
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