Everytime AsiaSoft announces that it’s acquired a new MMO title, I die a little.
This Asian MMO distributor has been responsible for an endless string of free-to-play duds, and their latest offering, AIKA SEA, is just another in that long list that’s more likely than not, going to crash and burn once those poor teens who can’t afford a monthly World of Warcraft subscription (but can somehow pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars for A-Cash credits) get their fill of killing swine and each other.
Obviously, AIKA isn’t new. Like many other MMOs that hit Singapore’s shores, it’s only managed to make it here months after the International version’s gone gold. And that’s the exact reason why AIKA looks like it’s light years behind when it comes to the overall look and visual appeal. Worse still, it’s got the exact feel of any other Korean grinder (and man, it’s grindy) and music that makes you feel like poking out your eardrums, just because.
In AIKA, you play an Elter – a hero chosen by the goddess Aika to combat the evil Zerecas. Along the way, you get to beat on other players, and fight for your home country in large scale PVP oriented campaigns, relic hunts, and castle sieges.
You get to pick one of six classes – the warrior, the crusader (a paladin), sniper, dual gunner (thank god they spelled dual right). night magician (warlock), and priest.
They’re really all of three archetypes – the fighter, the rogue, and the spellcaster, and there’s about as much variety in their skill sets as there are doorknobs.
The class you choose also determines your gender (yes, it’s a little discriminatory), so all you manginas out there, you’re out of options if you want to play a female warrior or wizard. Better luck next game!
Character customization is the pits. You’re stuck with only a handful of hairstyles, hair colors and facial types, and the costumes… let’s just leave it at “meh”. (Clearly, you’re encouraged to squander real world money on virtual items from the in-game Cash Shop if you want to look like anything other than everyone else and their mother’s son.)
Mechanically though, there’s little to really complain about. The controls are simple enough (or idiot proof enough), using the standard WASD buttons, and other hot keys to call up your inventory and on screen menus. When you target a monster and hit a key to activate a power, it will autocast – spamming the ability over and over until either the monster’s dead, or you are.
I didn’t mind the Autoloot feature – where everything that drops is automatically added to your inventory (it’s a step up from right clicking a body to loot it), but you tend to run out of bag space pretty fast.
The quest interface though is incredibly annoying, and you have to scroll through a whole bunch of text, sit through cringe worthy voice acting, and worse of all, read the horrible, horrible dialogue to understand what exactly Poor Peasant A wants.
The first few quests are all about boars, boars, and more bores (and trust me, it gets boar-ing). At least the monsters looked… kinda amusing and were relatively detailed. I was especially amused by the animated potato sacks I had to beat up, and the ganguro goblins in the next zone.
Like a whole slew of other MMOs out there that decided it was actually fun for players to rear their own Pokemon, Aika introduces the Pran system.
Instead of a yellow, electric furball, you get a fairy that you can play dress-up Barbie with. Your pet fairy even grows up and interacts with you, offering hours of fun and excitement! Is that awesome or what? *sarcasm* (It’s actually a little creepy, if you ask me.)
Fine, so the Pran isn’t 100% useless. It actually gives you a token buff – like better damage output, or better defenses, but that’s really just window dressing, isn’t it?
Overall, AIKA SEA just doesn’t deliver. There’s nothing to set it apart from it’s peers (and all those free-to-play MMOs are a dime a dozen).
Sure, it’s attempted (albeit vaguely) to focus on the PVP component, but really, how many people playing MMOs play just to PVP when they’ve got so many better (and by better I mean real) options out there? The PVE facet too leaves a great deal to be desired. The trivial metaplot and story don’t help at all either.
I have no doubt a fair bit of AsiaSoft’s infinitely loyal, A-Cash chomping fanbase is going to jump aboard the AIKA SEA bandwagon anyway. but if you’re a discerning MMO player, then I’ve got three words to say to you.