|Shaiya is a relatively new free-to-play MMORPG with hyper-realistic fantasy environments, gut-wrenching action, full-scale back-and-forth combat and one hell of a world to explore and conquer. There’s a heavy load of some of the most hardcore elements in the RPG genre – let alone in MMO format – plus a full smack-ton of monsters, wildlife and various additional incidences of enemy forces just waiting to bite into your excessively-huge backside and rip it straight into a pile of shredded bits and pieces.||
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"This is a definite must-play for any gamer of legal age – and one of the best out there, no matter what the cost."
There’s a high level of quality throughout all portions of the Shaiya experience, complete with a heavily-entrenched mythology, worldly locales, citizenry and so forth that will undoubtedly pull you in, leave you amazed, hold you by a string... and certainly will not let you go away so easily. The awe-inspiring scenery, expertly-crafted landscaping and vivid imagery will certainly leave you with a feeling of exhilaration and wonder that compares to some of the more contemporary RPG series out there, whether in MMO or traditional formations.
Be warned in advance that fighting enemies in Shaiya is significantly distanced from quantitative suitability for the underage crowd, since there is a hefty presence of blood effects when you get hurt – as it likewise goes with your prey. That’s right: gushing, in-your-face blood effects – think of a compositional formation of classic Dragon Quest games mixed with equal portions of Vindictus and World of Warcraft, and you’ll get the idea. Such an icky mess serves to be a very good reason for the Shaiya installer’s desire to ask if you’re 18+ in personal years – as it stands thereof, we’re looking at borderline qualification for the letter M on a game package from the ESRB (as in Mature, of course). Simply put, this one is definitely not for the younger portions of those in your life. Or in four all-telling words: player discretion is advised. I’m not even making a sick joke here, either. Dragon Nest this clearly is not.
But enough about that – let’s discuss some of the less-disgusting portions of Shaiya as our next few topical selections. One case in point being the combat system itself: aside from the icky mess that forms such a messy end result thereof, combat in Shaiya is relatively straight forward and outright enjoyable... well, at least 99% of the time. If you engage a battle with the enemy yourself, it’s a bit more satisfying as it keeps you in control and on top so that you know who and what to pick fights with based on your personal strengths and limitations. But once again, I must put up a few choice words of some cautionary advice: you will occasionally run into monsters and wildlife that will give chase up your backside if you get too close – and if your character is still in “weak sauce mode” (read: 800 HP or less), then you’ll probably be knee-deep in a pending disaster – the worst of these foes can do upwards of at least 100 HP damage or more, leaving you at the mercy of total defeat if you’re not keeping an eye on your health meter. If you do get caught by any of these foes, you’d better start running like hell – and start wishing for a clean getaway.
Controls in the world of Shaiya (or more specifically, the realm of Teos Epeiros in which all of the historical and present-day events take place) are relatively simplified, standardized and easily memorable in functional terms, utilizing either your mouse buttons or the familiar WASD navigation format depending on the contextual situations thereof. Elements in the game world are triggered either with a simple point-and-click action (such as engaging your foes in battle) or simply by walking into them (such as the red-orange portals that you will occasionally find in the game world). Racial character selections are determined based on whether you ally with Shaiya’s equivalents of your typical guardians of light, or the chaotic forces of darkness – each with its own goddess deity to support, even if your allied Goddess (spoiler alert!) happens to be a split half of the world’s original, albeit slain deity thereof in practical consequence.
It should be noted that I did find this allegiance system to be partially disappointing somewhat, particularly in that you cannot legally switch sides in order to give the opposing forces a test-run without setting up characters on a different server. Hence it bears mention that any mere presence of this limitation is an outright shame thereof, as it would have been nice to keep it all on the same instanced world for contingency purposes. The end result is such that even if you have already set up a human or elf and wanted to give either of the inherently-opposing racial character selections a test-drive, it bears mention that you’ve essentially been smacked outta luck by your own inherent choices – at least without having to start over from the beginning, of course. You do get a few potential options for your own individual class selection, however.
Another small complaint – if one that also bears mentioning – is that some portions of the navigational implements (specifically the portals along the edges of one particular town in the starting areas) give absolutely no visual clues as to where you’ll end up after you step through it – so making sure you utilize the correct portal in order to get back into the starting human village is virtually impossible without referring to your directions from the NPC who suggested the utilization of a certain portal in the area.
The resulting outcome thereof involved my utilization of the wrong portal on my first try – leaving me far off in an eastward direction of where I actually needed to go for completion of the intended objective. Additionally, in order to register for a NPC quest, you have to click a button labeled ”talk” when you’re allowed to do so – however, the button isn’t enabled for that NPC unless you’re talking with a villager who actually has something that you can help out with, so paying attention to your visual cues in order to maintain accuracy in tracking a fully-comprehensive “who’s who” is an absolute necessity.
Thankfully, you do manage to get a rather satisfying audible cue once you’ve signed up for an NPC quest, which can then be monitored at your convenience up to its full completion. Even so, actually remembering where to go for actual completion of your objectives – and even where you need to report on your successes – will occasionally get somewhat confusing, as not all of the general NPC locations are marked on your navigational map. This can easily result in a full smack-ton of confusion if you’re not keeping track of your positioning at certain times. As for the last insult on my junk list, I should also mention the presence of a rather mischievous bug in the client software itself; for whatever reason thereof, I have occasionally witnessed incidents where the client-specific mouse pointer would fail to show up like it’s supposed to under certain selective conditions, rendering all operation of the game into a completely unplayable state before even having an opportunity to sign in and play. For the record, this was easily mitigated on a temporary basis utilizing a small workaround involving the system taskbar; however, such desparate measures really shouldn’t be necessary just to play a game, no matter what kind of game it happens to be.
All complaints notwithstanding, Shaiya is an exceptionally-solid MMORPG that never ceases to amaze even the likes of my own self. The finely-detailed environments, awe-inspiring landscapes and vibrant levels of realism inherent to all portions of the world inherent to the Shaiya experience are exquisitely detailed and visually pleasing to explore, while the overall extent of monsters and wildlife to hunt and kill for general objective fulfilment – or simply for the hell of it – provides equal measures of challenge, balancing, strategy and knowledge of your general strengths and limitations in order to maximize experience gains while ensuring your own virtual survival. I highly recommend Shaiya for anyone looking for high quality in a free-to-play MMORPG.
This is a definite must-play for any gamer of legal age – and one of the best out there, no matter what the cost.
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