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Adventure & RPG
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Lineage: The Blood Pledge
January 30, 2002 | Andy Largent

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The dawn is clear and cold as you gather your forces. Directing your raid forward, your enemies burst from the keep in a massive rush. Cries for your blood pledge ring out, only to be quickly drowned in the noise of battle. But alas, their numbers are too great. Your charisma, as well as your troops, were spread too thin to be effective. Licking your wounded pride, you scream out a vow on the bodies of your fallen to return again and take the castle... Then you remember to give your beagle a treat, because he gets cranky if he stays up too late.

Lineage: The Blood Pledge is a game in which scenarios very similar to this play out on a daily basis. The title is one of the many Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) currently on the market for the PC. Besides having a horribly clumsy name, the genre of MMORPGs has almost entirely eluded the Mac up to this point. PC publishers hoping to duplicate successful ventures like Ultima Online and Everquest have been chomping at the bit to get new titles out as fast as possible. Unfortunately very few have found their way to the Mac.

There are a few Mac-only MMORPGs to speak of; Clan Lord and Arcane Arena have certainly carved out their niches (even taking over entire newsgroups). But the Mac client for World War II Online seems to have succumbed to its own botched launch and the long Shadowbane beta tempts many but pleases few with its very private accounts. Therefore it will be with Lineage: The Blood Pledge that PC and Mac gamers will play and fight together in a persistent online world for the first time. Will all of the expectations and hype be worth it? That will largely depend on your preferences as a gamer, but for many the answer is sure to be a resounding "yes!"

Lineage is a fairly standard RPG in many aspects. With a direct anime influence from a set of comic books by Ilsook Shin, the game borrows heavily from the Tolkien-ized sphere of medieval fantasy. There are four character classes, each with a male and female counterpart: Knights, Elves, Princes/Princesses, and Wizards. Your character has the similar statistics and attributes with which RPG players are familiar. The isometric 2D view is very analogous to Diablo or Baldur's Gate, and the combat is a straightforward click-to-attack. Monsters drop gold and items, which you can then use to buy better weapons, armor, and spells.

It's with this formula that Lineage made its Korean launch in 1998. Since then it has grown into the largest worldwide userbase of over 4 millions subscribers, and at least 330,000 people online at any one moment. It wasn't by accident that so many people decided to fork over a monthly fee for the game. Special features such as player guilds called Blood Pledges let huge groups easily engage in massive attacks for territory. NC Soft has also continually expanded Lineage's world to ten huge episodes for no extra charge, ensuring the game's continued replayability and success.


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