Neocron by Reakktor

By the end of the third millennium, Earth has changed… Global pollution, excessive wars and a perforated atmosphere have turned the planet into an almost lifeless sphere of toxic mud. Radiation is everywhere and most animals have either gone extinct or have mutated into bizarre monstrous creatures. The remnants of mankind seek protection from the desolate, scorched world and gathered behind the protective walls of giant cities. These few mega cities became the last lights of hope, in the darkness of Earth’s final dusk…

Neocron is the world’s first and only MMORPG that brings you a dense Cyberpunk atmosphere. It is also the first MMORPG that looks, feels, and is almost as easy to play as a 3D first person shooter.

Neocron was first released in Germany and eventually spread out to become an international game now boasting 5 servers. The first server being a German server, the second a French server, and the final 3 international. There is some content in the game that may not be suited for kids so parents beware there is some nudity in the game and sexual suggested content as well as a not to harsh drug element to the game. There is also little in the way of name filtering and some choice names people pick can be offensive to a more PC crowd.

Neocron is now approaching two years old with an expansion pack in the works and still to this date I think it is one of the more immersive combinations of MMOG/FPS games out there. Character creation is rather limited in customization to only a few faces and simple variation in clothing which means even in later stages of the game, most everyone looks similar, some even exactly the game. The focus on the game is not on role playing though and this game released long before the character customization trend hit. Everyone plays a human so race doesn’t enter in to it and you have 4 basic classes to choose from: Tank, Spy, Psi-Monk, and Private Eye. Tanks are your damage taking class of course and can dish it out as well.. Spy is a more ranged damage dealer as well as stealthy using hacking and remote control device for combat as well as some close up infighting. The Private Eye is a jack of all trades without being able to specialize in any of the special high end techniques the other classes can. The Psi-Monk is the only class that can use the Psi abilities in the game to the fullest extent being able to dish out large amounts of damage yet is the weakest physically of all the classes. Each class has a good number of subclasses to chose from yet these are not terribly defining classes as they just tend to arrange your starting stats and equipment towards a certain play style and can be easily changed as you progress through the game.

You also chose a faction your character is bound to for all the game. It is possible to change your faction mid game but you have to pay a costly fee to do so as well as reached a favorable point with your target faction as well. This is a heavy element of gameplay as it will limit what parts of the city you can go to, or even if you start in the city. There are simply some factions that are for more advanced players and are not recommended for someone new to the game as no matter what faction you choose from the big brother type City Administration to the underground drug cartel Tsunami Syndicate, there will be other factions in which you will be killed on site if seen in their area of the city.

The first thing that happens to you when you log in for the first time is you’re in a rather limited area in which you can test out the game mechanics, even do some quests and pad your pocket with some credits. At this point the game is outdoors and the graphics are not too shabby by even today’s standards although simple. Once you finally get tired of playing there you can teleport to your apartment and then the real game starts. Once you arrive in the city which is really immersive even though it does become repetitive after a few weeks. It is filled with shops but mostly of the cookie cutter variety and most with little or no variation other than what they sell. The sounds are great and I was really reminded of the movie Blade Runner in which there was always someone speaking over a citywide audio system brainwashing me to be compliant, and warning me of dangers. Your apartment will be near to your faction base of operations in which you can run beginner missions and gain faction sympathy as well as experience. This is where your grind starts.

Being a beginner in this game is like chewing bricks. It is hard and you will find yourself struggling to get ahead so you can get over that hump of killing minor targets in the sewers and city dissidents in some dungeon like zones. You will no doubt die a lot and thank the factions the death penalty is only as temporary stat reduction. You can chose to remove your “Law Enforcer Chip” and get experience and money faster but then you are also open season for the PVP element of the game which in essence you are trying to prepare for anyway, as this is after all a marriage of FPS and MMOG. The fastest and most efficient way of gaining experience is by grouping as this is a very social game where there is safety in numbers. A clan is a must for the later game.

As you level you are rewarded skill points that can be used to raise your stats which open doors to new enhancments and items. Needless to say you eventually get past the hump and find yourself in the wastelands killing bigger and better things and you actually can start looking less like a n00b and more like a normal player of the game as you get armor that is both futuristic and protective. You will eventually be able to own and operate vehicles and higher tech guns with dramatic looking effects. The vehicles look really sharp.

There is a great deal of crafting in the game in which you can break down items as well as make items using blueprints and construction tools. You have hacking tools that allow you to get into locked doors of even your enemy bases. Implant tools that you can use on yourself and others called “poking” as not everyone will have the stats that can support installing implants at the higher levels. You can construct the most basic of things that can enhance your game even like first aid kits and med-packs to drugs that increase you abilities.

The gameplay is very FPS like as in no turn based combat. It is all live and fast paced and challenging twitched based gaming. Some of the cooler aspects of the game like hacking and the use of drones can leave you very vulnerable to attack though as your POV is not that of your characters and you may not know you are even in danger until you realize your dead. The economy is steep as well as having a learning curve to just know what is being sold or sought after with everything broken down into acronyms. Expect to be overwhelmed for the first few days and always be learning new things in the game as you progress.

Good Points

1. The Graphics are sharp and very cyberpunk and make you feel like your really in a futuristic world.

2. A good blend of both FPS and MMOG elements without too much emphasis on either.

3. Really great sounds. You keep hearing new ones as you progress through the game and it isnt the samo samo sounds through out the game.

Bad Points

1. I would have liked to see them do more with the factions than just the limiting factors they have. It didnt seem to me to have many beneficial factors.

2. Huge learning curve. Being a n00b in the game when you first start is like pulling teeth.

3. Almost no difference in the characters. Everyone looks the same. I hope this is addressed in the expansion.

If you are a fan of the FPS game then I would highly recommend this game as there is more to do than just kill as much as you can until you die and then get back into the fray. There is defiantly a MMOG feel to the game and I would even recommend it to my fellow MMOG players who like the Sci-Fi genre. If you have always wanted to being in a game where the two genres of the MMOG and FPS are combined together in a balanced fashion that was fulfilling to both appetites then this game is for you. I give this game a thumbs-up. It set out what it intended to do with flare and style.

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