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Publisher: NCsoft    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: Any Version

Lineage: The Blood Pledge
August 28, 2003 | Galen Wiley

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Online gaming has always been something Mac users have sought after, and while many, small, third-party developers have tried to satisfy our needs, there was no real competition between PC-exclusive titles like Everquest and Ultima Online. Today, a lot has changed, with Everquest Macand the popular Shadowbane already available, Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPG) on the Mac are finally a reality. However, while you sit at home, waiting for one to arrive, hit pause for a while and listen up, because there's a game out there that's been rocking the Mac MMORPG community for a long time now: Lineage: The Blood Pledge.

Released for Mac in February of last year, Lineage has gone through many changes in community and features. With the final update released, major changes may be over but the fun has just begun. So before you go out to pick up a copy of Everquest, you might want to see what you've been missing when you were hiding under that giant rock.

Game play
Unlike most games out there, game play is going to be reviewed in two different aspects: core game play, and community. After all, it only makes sense that a MMORPG such as Lineage would be vying to perfect both, wouldn't it?

First and foremost, Lineage is an adventure game at heart. You'll find plenty of dragons, sea nymphs, magical swords and more. You'll journey with groups of friends, uncover hidden treasure and even fight in battles of epic proportions. What sets it apart from others, however, is it's online component.

For those who have played or even seen the popular Diablo series in action. Lineage may feel awfully familiar. Controlling your character or "avatar" from a 3/4 birds-eye view, roaming different worlds, talking to various characters and slaying others, Lineage offers a familiar game play scheme that all adventure fans will be able to adapt to quickly. Lineage should not be mistaken as a simple hack and slash adventure, however, for there is plenty of room for equipping various items and summoning spells. From an outer-most level, though, actual game play is simple and sweet.

First things come first, however; before you set out for roaming/talking/slaying/etc., you'll need to create a character to navigate through the massive online world. While you're not given a huge amount of options for customizability (appearance, etc.), you can choose from four different classes that determine your characters various abilities and skills, as well as your character's own personal statistics, or in layman's terms: "how good he or she can do something." Again, you can't customize your character's appearance (you can choose between a male/female sprite though), which was a minor letdown for me. It becomes a little monotonous seeing the exact same character five times in a row, each time a different player, especially considering the magnitude of players online at one time. Oh well.

Once you're in, you're ready to explore on your own. You can do a variety of things to help your character grow: fighting monsters for experience or buying more powerful armor and weapons to name a few. You can also meet new players and adventure along (which, believe it or not, happens a lot more than solo questing).

And that's where the community aspect of Lineage comes in, and this is a rare case when community outdoes actual game play - mainly because without community, you'd just have a big 1 GB file in your hard disk taking up space.

The first area to consider with community is what the game has to offer to everyone as a whole. As with most pay-per-play online games (that's right, the game might be free, but you'll have to cough up $12 a month to continue playing), Lineage's developers offer new content and quests every week or so for users to participate in. This may be as simple as a "monsters drop more gold" event or as huge as a new island being added to the Lineage world. Whatever the case may be, Lineage is an ever-evolving world, and this is a huge plus for games that rely heavily on their users and not hard code.

The second area of community is individual and group offerings. Most online games, be they massive or not, allow users to contact each other through some sort of messaging. With Lineage, communication is taken a tad further. It's no longer another feature, it's a necessity for success. Because of this, the game has instated "Blood Pledges" (clans, or groups of users who share a common interest/hobby/etc.) and while you can play the entire game on your own, being in a blood pledge makes everything taste better.


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