Asheron’s Call 2

Like a good little gaming consumerDroid, I ran right out and bought AC2 when it was released, even though I’d been in the beta and had been unimpressed. It wasn’t any better after commercial launch, so once my free month ran out I stopped playing.

The other day I got an invite directed to people who’d cancelled their accounts, inviting us back for free for 2 weeks. Since I’m between MMRPGs I figured “What the heck” and went back to check it out. I spent more time updating than I did playing. It’s still “ick” to me.

And I still can’t put my finger on why. But I think its the visuals…I dislike, strongly, the artistic style of the avatars in the game. But again, I can’t put my finger on why that is. Part of it is the coifed plastic hair. I understand that for polygon diet reasons, they can’t have realistic hair. But I think my hangup is that they gave it such a presence when they should’ve downplayed it.

But even that isn’t the whole reason, because I’ve seen bald avatars and don’t like them any better. So the second thing I don’t like (and I’m more or less talking about human male avatars here…the female models are ok, the other 2 races are deliberately ugly) is the barrel chested aspect of all the models. Every stance is like something out of a Marvel comic. Huge chest shoved forward, back arched, arms flexed. Ain’t we just the most macho little bad boys you ever did see? The pose would be great as an emote for when you wanted to project attitude, but as a 24/7 thing, it just makes “me” (and everyone) look like a race of pompous arrogant arses.

I mean, there are other aspects of the game that bug me. Inventory management is pretty clunky and the combat animations seem chaotic enough as to be less than satisfying. But I could get past those, I think. After all, this is a role playing game and I’m supposed to identify with my avatar on some level. OK, that may be an archaic idea, but I’m an old fart. Sue me. I simply don’t want to identify with any of the character models I’ve been able to piece together.

All of which is irrelevant if I’m out on the lunatic fringe. But if I’m Joe Average and other people feel this way…I just wonder if the art departments realize what a weight is on their shoulders. Something is holding AC2 back. As the first true ‘second generation’ MMRPG you’d think it’d be flying off the shelves, but if that were the case, I don’t think they’d be giving those of us who quit 2 free weeks of play, would they?