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Publisher: Ubisoft    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.2    CPU: G3 @ 350 MHz    RAM: 128 MB    Hard Disk: 1000 MB    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

September 11, 2003 | Chris Ritchie

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Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPG’s) have gained a steady foothold in today’s gaming market, and with this consumer push some of the better titles are steadily making their way to the Macintosh. The most recent addition to the index of Macintosh online gaming is Shadowbane, a fantasy styled RPG with the added benefits of thousands of simultaneous human players. While Everquest made it’s mark with a new and distinctive GUI which incorporated first person perspective and an emphasis on keyboard shortcuts, Shadowbane’s setup follows the standard 3rd person perspective from which most RPGs are based. Neither system is better, but for someone not willing to take a long time to learn a new control interface, the ease of which you can take a god’s-eye view to double-click the enemies you wish to smite can make for a few extra hours of enjoyable gameplay.

Like all good MMORPGs, you start your Shadowbane experience with character creation. During character creation you will shape the foundation for a character that will steadily build and change over time. One of the first choices that must be made is race. Humans are the neutral race with no benefits or hindrances to basic attributes. There are also a few of the standard fantasy races like Dwarves, Elves, and Half-Giants. The developers of Shadowbane have also added a fair amount of races that you won’t find in most RPGs. Along with races such as Shades, and a two elf breeds, there are restricted races that can only be accessed after a certain amount of payed playing time. After one month of play, the Minotaur race is allowed, after two months the Centaurs are introduced, and after three months the bird-like Aracoix can be chosen. If you want to jump directly into playing one of these races, you can

After you pick your race, you choose from one of the basic classes that is available to your character. The first class will be the starting point for the professions your character can gain later on in the game. The basic classes are fighter, healer, mage and rogue, and each basic class has a list of specialized professions that can be attained after your character has reached the 10th level. After choosing your class, you must spend your allotted character points to add to your primary attributes (like Strength, Dexterity etc…) and to add traits and talents to your character. A well balanced mix between attribute points and character developing skills is important, at this stage of the game your character might end up being anything.

Once in the game, your options are fairly limited until you start gaining levels. The game really begins in earnest when your character reaches level 10 and gets a profession. For the first levels, you character can only stay in or near starting cities. The monsters in the surrounding hills are plentiful and easy to kill which make quick work for the first 5 or so levels. After that it isn’t much farther from the city that you find monsters suitable for thenext 5 + levels, allowing you to learn the ropes of the gameplay, gather some gold and equipment, and start developing your character with earned attribute and training points. The grouping system makes gaining experience much faster than attacking monsters on your own. As a neat twist to how groups gain experience in most RPGs, your character doesn’t even have to attack or kill a creature to gain the experience. As long as your character is fairly close to the action, you’ll gain experience for what other group members kill. So if your group charges a Grobold encampent, every Grobold you kill will give your group members experience, and every Grobold they kill will give you experience. This makes groups much more desirable and you’ll usually find groups hanging around enemy spawning points.

After you have reached level 10, you can start the long process of specializing your character. The first step is to choose a profession, and this is a very important step. Once you choose your profession it is with that character until it is deleted. You can find many of the standard profession in larger towns (which can now be reached due to your level 10 status). Some of the more specialized professions can only be found by tracking down a trainer in obscure parts of the world, making the harder to reach professions more powerful than ones that can be trained in towns. The larger towns also offer a wider variety of weapons that can’t be found in the smaller hamlets, allowing you to upgrade past the basic starting weapons that can be purchased in the villages.


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