It seems almost silly to do a “first look” of a free, no active download game…after all, if you’re interested, go sign up and play! But I’m old school, eh?
I got about 90 minutes to play Fusion Fall tonight. It was gently amusing, but so far what I’ve seen has been *very* kid oriented, with little or no humor slipped in for the grownups (I’d hoped for some ‘dual layer’ humor similar to what the cartoons often have). The closest I’ve seen to “snuck in adult humor” so far was a quest name: Shock and Ow. But that’s ok; after all, kids *are* the intended audience, and it feels like they’ve gone to great lengths to make a safe game, right down to naming characters. During character creation, you can build a name by picking from lists of words (rather like Second Life) or you can request a custom name. I did the latter, and was told it would have to be approved first and that I’d be given a temporary name until my chosen name got approval. So all night I was Player43489342 or something. I’m guessing name approval goes in front of bonafide human eyeballs or something.
Dexter, of Dexter’s Lab, is the first Cartoon Network character you’ll meet, only its an adolescent Dexter, and he’s come to transport you into the future so you can help save the world from a gooey alien menace. Of course, Dee Dee gets involved and screws everything up and you get flung “too far” into the future. Now I have to admit my Cartoon Network knowledge is pretty out of date, so I didn’t recognize many of the characters, but presumably an age-appropriate player would.
Combat is fairly traditional action-RPG fare, with you basically holding down a mouse button to swing/fire. Targeting is similar to Tabula Rasa though. Normally you have no mouse pointer on screen and instead are in constant “mouse look” mode. There are no classes, at least at first, but you customize characters via the use of “Nanos”. These are tiny versions of CN characters that you collect as you quest. You have 3 “equip” slots for Nanos, and each Nano has 3 potential skills, of which 1 is active at any time. So basically you have 3 skills available at any time. You can hit a machine that lets you swap Nanos or activate different spells on your Nanos in the various “town” areas. (This system feels a bit like Guild Wars to me…lots of potential skills but limited slots to use them in.)
As an example, my first two Nanos were one of the Power Puff Girls and “Numbah two” from some current show that I didn’t recognize. The PPG’s active skill was a Stun, and Numbah 2 came with a run-speed buff. In both cases, their other skills were some kind of group buff, and some kind of collection buff (extra currency from kills).
The premise of this Planet Fusion which is trying to take over the earth means that you spend a lot of time in pretty banged up neighborhoods. Green goo is everywhere; walking on it causes you to take damage, and most of the monsters have some green goey bits on their bodies. Lots of cyborg looking amalgamations of goo and machine parts like some twisted Battle Bots arena. This goo-factor serves to lighten an otherwise potentially dismal motif. But there’s a LOT of green in this game!
There are some nods to arcade games. Every so often you’ll find an “egg” and running over it gets you a powerup buff (I’ve gotten run speed and jump duration buffs this way so far). There are also some light platforming aspects in certain areas, but you’d have to be really inept at platforming for these to give you any difficulty.
It isn’t clear at this point what the difference is between playing for free and paying for a sub. Presumably that comes a bit later, after they have you hooked.
Technically, the game ran very nicely, and did a lot of its downloading in the background; I was up and playing in no time. My browser (Firefox 3) did crash on quitting the game, but in all fairness FF3 on my Vista machine isn’t the most stable browser I’ve ever used. I do rather wish there was a desktop launcher, but maybe I can make one via a URL shortcut.
I think its natural to want to compare Fusion Fall to Free Realms. Both are bright, “lite” kid-friendly MMOs. I haven’t played Free Realms but from what I’ve seen it might be a bit more “different” than Fusion Fall (it seems to be heavy on mini-games?), which in most ways feels very ‘comfortable’ to an MMO player. Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on what you’re looking for, I guess.
Will I keep playing Fusion Fall? Maybe a bit. It was amusing, but really for the little amount I played, it was *so* focused on being kid-friendly that I almost had an “I don’t belong here” feeling. I didn’t do any chatting and in fact didn’t *see* any chatting. So whether there was a channel I missed, or maybe you can only chat with friends, I’m not sure. For all I know everyone else running around was just as old as me. I can’t really put my finger on why I feel the way I do: I was quite comfortable in, for instance, Wizard 101. But I really felt kind of “out of place” in this world. We’ll see if that feeling continues. I want to at least get my name (Gillain Edgeward) rather than Player293r2342!