If You're looking at the headline above and thinking 'Lineage who?' it's OK, you can be forgiven. Despite huge success in Korea, Lineage never made waves in western civilisation, apart from a few news stories centred around the real-life criminal exploits of some of its players who took the game a little too seriously and brought their in-game grudges to the outside world.
Lineage II is a different prospect altogether. Having conquered its home ground, NCsoft is now looking to take on international heavyweights such as EverQuest, Dark Age Of Camelot and Anarchy Online with this sequel, and all available evidence suggests that Lineage II is not to be taken lightly. This is evident most notably in the quality of the graphics on show. The luscious visual overhaul is all thanks to the latest version of the Unreal engine, with the move to 3D from the original game's 2D roots completing a transition to cutting-edge technology that the series desperately needed.
As our readership in Korea is limited at best, you're unlikely to be familiar with the original game. Lineage was a standard fantasy-based online RPG in which you could choose between magic, melee and stealth characters. While it stuck pretty firmly to the traditional skill increasing and levelling up template for these things, the ultimate goal was to join a clan and wage war on others, challenging their territory and buildings. Think of it as a streamlined EverQuest with siege battles and clan wars as its primary focus and you wouldn't be wide of the mark. Lineage II has a similar focus but gives you a greater choice of characters, skills and activities and wraps it all up in a 3D blanket.
Which is all well and good, but what incentive will there be for gamers to drop the time they invested in all the other MMOGs to start anew in Lineage 2? We tracked down NCsoft's lead designer, Raoul Kim, who believes the unique implication of siege warfare will be the big draw. "Using 3D technology brings out tremendous possibilities in the castle siege system," he says. "The colossal castles in 1:1 scale allow strategic posts to be set up on castle ramparts or watch towers, adding diversity to combat styles. 3D technology also makes it possible to use large-scale castle siege weaponry and new strategic moves such as catapulting over the castle rampart."
Kill People For Fun
Just as Lineage relied heavily on PvP, so too does the sequel. The dangers of pure and open PvP in games of this type are well-documented, with many players shying away as a result. NCsoft is sticking to its guns and hoping to prove the world wrong. "In a limited sense, PvP will mean individual against individual, while in a larger sense, it will involve a massive battle, pitting clan against clan," says Kim. "In large-scale group battles, two clans may fight one another or form alliances to beat larger, more powerful clans, and then wage war on the battlefields. Battles break out between a clan claiming ownership of a castle and an opposing clan trying to seize it. This kind of massive-scale PvP system requires countless strategies and represents an important and unique feature of Lineage II."
Listening to Kim talk about the PvP aspect of the game, it sounds almost word for word a description of what will surely be Lil's most direct competitor: Shadowbane. While Shadowbane suffers from unimpressive graphics due to an ageing game engine, it proved there is most definitely a market for PvP titles, having impressive server figures ever since the game was released.
Out Of The Shadow
While it's hardly likely that Lineage II will suffer similar complaints about its graphics, there are other aspects about it that suggest Shadowbane's days may be numbered. The quest system, for instance. "Our quest system is more than just a collection of simple task-fulfilling functions," says Kim. "Lineage II offers everything from tutorial-style quests for newcomers and basic quests for rewards, to much more elaborate quests designed to thoroughly captivate the players and bring them into the world of Lineage II."
With its excellent graphics and the lure of large-scale siege warfare, there is much to get excited about with Lineage II. Even the ever present threat of lag should hopefully be eliminated as the game will lower graphical quality automatically on the fly during very large battles, ensuring players with low-end machines won't be watching the action almost frame by frame.
Additionally, seamless loading of environments (as opposed to the zone-loading style used by games like EverQuest) will add to the atmosphere and sense of realism, and while Shadowbane may well be looking nervously over its shoulder at this game, we think EverQuest and the like should also be advised to keep an eye on what looks like a very promising addition to the genre.
Make War, Not Love
Forget Player Vs Player, Lineage Ii Is Aiming For Game Vs Game Combat
Lineage II, in common with Shadowbane, is a continuous battle for territorial control with players vying for supremacy in strategic regions and, along with their clan members, attempting to take control of as much land as possible in order to use its resources. This is the heart and soul of a pure PvP environment, and it works very well indeed in Shadowbane, making the game world feel alive, real, dangerous, and challenging. Unfortunately, that's just about all there is in that game. Lineage II is bringing a lot more than PvP and siege warfare to the table and as a result, should attract more gamers in the long term. Even Planetside is likely to lose subscribers if NCsoft can pull this off. Fight, fight, fight...
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode