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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Full Games Review: Celestial Destroyer Online (3D MMORPG)

Celestial Destroyer Online
Developers: Beijing Perfect World Co, Ltd.
Publisher (MY): Cubinet Interactive

The original 3D MMORPG was a Chinese version called Zhu Xian and was made by developers Beijing Perfect World Co., Ltd. Recently, two versions of the game have been released in South East Asia; one in the Philippines and the other in a Malaysian server under Cubinet Interactive.
It is a free-to-play online game that is currently in an open beta version since January 2009. The game had been distributed online through various file-hosting servers and publicized in miscellaneous banner advertisements in game based websites. Free DVDs are also distributed throughout selected retail software outlets around Malaysia.
Celestial Destroyer Online’s story is based on a well-received online Chinese fantasy novel. Players are immersed in the land of ancient China that is filled in mystic and mythology, overrun by evil monsters, to investigate the outcome of the novel’s three main heroes; Zhang Xiaofan the betrayer, Lu Xueqi the heartbroken and Bi Yao, the daughter of a heretic clan.

Stunning visuals of the 3D world.

Like many online games, users are required to register for a user ID before they can create a male or female character to play as. Once entered into the world, players are given some basic weapons and equipments to begin, along with a starting quest that helps players to become familiar with the common essential features like inventory, interactive interfaces and in-game trading.
Players progress by completing mission quests and gaining experience points to level up character status. Mobs that are killed occasionally drop treasure items, which players could sell or use to craft special equipments. Once a player had reached a certain experience level, a mandatory quest would appear that required players to choose an alliance with one of five different clans in the game world. Each clan differs in strength, spell-casting ability and available magic items.

Male and female characters of the GhostLord Clan.

a) GhostLord Clan; barbarian-type abilities. Strong in defense and melee attack but weak against multiple mob hits.
b) GreenCloud Clan; mage-type abilities. Capable of long-range and large area attacks but weak in defense.
c) Joyous Clan; assassin-type abilities. Specializing in critical hits and instant kills but consumes excessive energy.
d) Skytone Clan; healer-type abilities. The only clan with protection and resurrection skills but not as powerful in melee battles.
e) GhostTrail Clan; parasitic-type abilities. Mysterious clan that is unaligned with either the righteous sect or the heretic sect.

Some of the unique features of CDO set it apart from most of other MMORPG. This includes the pathing system, player-kiling system, skill combinations library and clan contributions. After the clan system, two of the more notable features are the Kozo Amalgamation and the Pet Master system.
Kozo is a talisman players can bind their characters with to increase personal statistics and posses an exceptional skill. With constant use, Kozos can be upgraded to higher levels or players can combine two Kozos to melt into one to produce new and unique skills. The latter process could also possibly create an entirely new, stronger Kozo.
Most Kozos are available based on choice of clan. Kozos float around the player's in-game character and this enables other players identify the character's clan; Skytone clan's Kozo is bright pink while Joyous clan's Kozo is shaped like two little bells. Completing certain high-level quests would be rewarded with rare and unique Kozos. Players are encouraged to experiment with Kozo combinations to find best attributes to suit gaming style.

A Skytone Kozo, the Rebirth Bead, and its skill in action.

A GM with custom Celestial Dice Kozo floating on his left shoulder.

Another yet to be implemented is the Pet Master system. It is the bearing and training of magical creatures that players can choose as combat assistants in the mob field or city war. Like Kozos, Pets are bounded to a player’s character, can be raised to become stronger and learn special skills. There are many equipments that can be discovered which are only for Pet use. Pets can also be ‘sacrificed’ momentarily to empower the player's fighting capabilities.
There are many types of Pets to choose based on player’s experience and preferences. Certain quests and items can only be unlocked with possession of a Pet.
As the English version is still in its open beta version, features that have yet to be implemented but are promised are the following quest chapters for level 90, World Aviation, advance Kozo for GhostTrail clan and other versions of animal mounts.

Pig Pet. Click to see evolved version.

Tree Pet. Click to see evolved version.

As the game was based on an existing novel, there is a large variety of dialog, quests and miscellaneous monsters players will encounter. So far in the open beta, there are six or eight types of monsters on each map field, not including boss spawns. The game server handles up to 15 channels at a time so players can disperse around and play selectively without crowding the mob field.
As players progress by completing the main quests, they also unlock many side quests, mostly to achieve treasure rewards or large experience points as players discover more and more details of the fantasy world. There are also unique side quests that occur periodically and repeatedly at certain real time hours and only on selected channels, such as fishing competitions, poetry-hunting, group missions and boss-spawning.

Quest box to help you keep track.

A lot of the interactivity and playability is basic point and click with customizable keyboard commands and are not hard to master. As a result, the solo quests are mostly repetitive and quick to complete. Certain enhancements to the individual gameplay includes skill combinations library, which players can activate a customized pattern of skills of self-buff or party-buff and trigger a sequence of strategic attacks towards a potentially risky mob.
A lot of the game’s capabilities are mainly to encourage large multiplayer groups, such as items trading, duel tournaments, party level-grinding, family alliances, guild wars and even in-game marriages. Players made full use of the world chat to offer item crafting, selling empowered equipments or request to form parties for missions.

GreenCloud sword skills in action.

GhostLord powerful attacks in action.

One of the best aspects immediately noted in the game are the 3D visualization and detailed graphics. Most of the terrain is based on the natural environment; the garden-like SlyRiver town, the hilly forests of GreenCloud map, the wide plains of Skytone field and etc.

Click the Thumbnails to see bigger picture.

There is a large skill tree system in CDO and each spell skill also posses its own animation effect sequence befitting the player’s choice of character; GhostLord clan’s powerful spell-casting causes the ground to shake while some spells of the GreenCloud clan exudes swarms of sword-shaped auras during battle.
Another feature of the game that is visually attentive is the large variety of animal mounts that players can purchase. Riding mounts give users an advantage to their in-game mobility and character customization. Mounts can be ridden by two characters at a time.

Two currently available mounts.

More mounts than just these are yet to come.

Sound and Music:
Much of the music used in the game are based on oriental instruments, such as flutes, chimes and strings, to give a very eastern feel, and the scores are mostly as long as two minutes apiece. Though the arrangement appears to be pre-set and unchanged, each maps of the game world had its own music score inserted periodically so players can be more immersed into the theme of the environment as they travel across the game world.
Sound effects are mostly kept at a typical package. Other than running water, combat attacks and monster cries, there are no other specific market town atmosphere or terrain-echo footsteps like in other MMOG. Both sound and music volumes are adjustable in game settings.

Overall pros and cons:
-Visually stunning environment and dynamic animations. Easy to level-up characters and master the controls. Lots of interesting new features. Multiplayer-friendly gameplay capabilities.
-Still in open beta version, many of the better features are still locked or unavailable. Quests tends to get repetitive. Some dialogs have not yet been translated and are still written in Chinese; this confuses many international players. Although it is free to play, certain in-game items can be purchased with real currency to Cubinet Interactive or by converting it into in-game currency, depending on the ever-changingexchange rate.

Jusr few of the Boss Monsters you'll encounter.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Love Thy Neighbour's Router

What I had always wanted for a long time was a kick-ass 3D capable portable computer with wireless processing so fast, it's only legal in a small group of selected WiFi restaurants (because it puts other users to shame... boo-hoo...).

See my new toy?

Smooth, silent keys...

Somewhere I belong...

It's my Acer Aspire. Though the specs were pretty mediocre as compared to my PC, the wireless modem, which is my most pressing need, is damn fast. And the webcam's icing on the cake.

Rejoice. There is a God.

My new sweetheart is second-hand, courtesy of older brotherly love (of which, the administrator-pic is still a football avatar) even though I had planned to pay him at least RM$800 for it when I heard he was selling. Reason pertaining for getting it as a freebie (a very good freebie) is that I suspect Mak had convinced him of an old story *cough* pinjaman Pity-Pity-Aunt *cough* [/pun].

But like a Ferarri lost in Tioman Island, no highway means no go.

So as blog topic hinted, I'm hanging on to my neighbour's very nice and very fast connection and never telling them about it too.

Oh, come one. Which do I ask? Neighboour Auntie-J or Neighbour Pak Guga? I suspected the latter since our houses share a wall. It started sometime back when MySis brought along her laptop to my house to do some work; she also brought along Oversized-BabyNabil (maybe in case she got bored and decided to chase after a diaper).

She didn't expect to suddenly discover an unsecured network in the middle of the living room and neither did we (then again, our laptop is a a year 2001 paperweight).

So ever since, though Prolink exists only as a name in the laptop's network device, it is always a very good friend of ours. Heck, nobody had paid a cent. Of course, availability is subjected to the will of the neighbour whose got the control (weekend nights are the longest online time) and if he/she suspected anything, which as unsecured networks go, neither had mentioned anything back in the last Hari Raya Open House.

Back then, it's only MySis's laptop that detects the signal. Now that there's a working machine with permanent residence in the house, obviously the whole family wants to dig in my Mozilla Firefox (though, without a USB Mouse, being touch-pad illiterate as they all are, I still rule... muahahahaha...). Mak wants Asian Food Channel, Ayah's checking on his new friends in Albania and Lil' Bro... being Lil' Bro, he just wants to register courses for school (Mr. No-Imagination).

Call it a guilt in the gut, but I do wonder if it's really okay to hog on my neighbour's router? I mean, they worked and paid to get the connection speed they asked for and here's me tagging on their bandwidth. Like a pedestrian with his bum on the wide bumper behind the bus, hogging free rides around town.

I can't be the only gal on the block who turns on their laptop for free ride. So I wonder, are there a lot of readers out there who enjoys their neighbour's signal as much as the neighbour does but never saying anything about it?

I know I do. I mean, I could say it's for work but I do more work at workplace than at home (also, I plan to super-upgrade its memory once I get more money). At home, whenever the signal's on, gaming instincts just takes over.

Love thy healing bubble...

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