7.8/10 - Even after 3+ years on the market DAOC is still the top choice for gamers looking for a team-based PVP game.

User Rating: 7.8 | Dark Age of Camelot: Shrouded Isles PC
Important Considerations: The following review is based on DAOC + its 3 expansions as of 04/23/2005. I only note this because the game is constantly changing so please keep in mind that this review is based on the state of the game as of this date. It should also be noted that I have extensive playtime in DAOC. I have played my original character from day one of release right up to this review. My current main character is a RR9 Druid and I have experienced every aspect of this game possible including master levels, leading a relic raid, and just about every PVE encounter in the game. System Specs used for this review: ASUS A7N8X-Deluxe AMD 3000+ (overclocked to 3400ish speeds) 1 Gig Corsair XMS DDR @ 420 MHz effective speed BFG 6800 GT OC (overclocked to 390/1.2 GHz) Game Settings: Usually 1280X1024 2XAA 4XAF, shadows and water effects on highest settings Gameplay: 7/10 - PVE, personally I find that when compared to other MMO's such as EQII or WOW the PVE game in DAOC tends to be found lacking. By that I don't mean to say that there is a lack of variety in PVE experiences to be found. But where it falls short is that it has a "forced" feeling about it. The Catacombs expansion has certainly helped to cut down the time it takes to level your character. Some of the quests in Catacombs can give as much as a half a level in experience. There is also a very nice mix of solo/group content and you certainly won't ever be in a position where you can't find something productive to do. If you choose an underpopulated realm to play on its also possible to receive a free level every 2 days(This free level is also available on other servers but can be as high as every 7 days). DAOC has made excellent strides in cutting down on the time it takes to get your character to maximum level. Where it does lose points though is that compared to WOW or EQII the PVE can get very repetative. RVR - This is where DAOC makes up for its lack of truly engaging PVE. There are special battle grounds for all levels to go and try out their PVP skills. The most popular ones though tend to be the level 20-24 and level 35+ ones. And of course the end game which is the frontiers which is generally only playable for level 50's. On the bright side the RVR can be very engaging at times as by and large it is a team based event. There can be problems with one side having more players than the other but in the 8-man group that I ran with it was always possible to find opponets to fight with similiar numbers. Some nights could be frustrating but overall it was a positive experience on most nights. On the downside though to really be effective in RVR you are pretty much forced to spend quite a lot of time in the PVE part of the game. You need to complete master levels and aquire artifacts(which also need to be leveled) as well as you need to spend quite a bit of time and energy into designing a "template" for your character in order to be really effective in RVR. If your brand new to the game then be forewarned that RVR will by and large mostly be a frustrating experience unless your willing to put in the effort into getting the best equipment available for your character. Another negative is that you will also go through a "training" phase where you will be trying to climb the realm ranks and in the early part of your career you can expect to be underpowered against players who have been around alot longer. RVR includes territory control and there are keeps, towers, and outposts that can be claimed by guilds for their realm. The system also includes "relics" that can be captured that give bonuses to your entire realm. The interface in the game also helps you to locate where any action is occuring and through the teleport system in the game is it quite easy to join in on the action. If I was basing this review solely on the RVR aspect of the game I would have given it a 9/10. However it drops to a 7/10 when you factor in the PVE experience and the time and effort involved to make your character RVR ready. Graphics: 7/10 - If you have the Catacombs expansion the graphics engine in the game will be upgraded. The graphics are not going to blow you away with amazing eye candy but they also aren't going to make you frown upon them either. There are very nice spell animations and in the thick of battle there is plenty to see. Tanks have several different animations for different attacks, casters have very unique spell animations, archers go through the whole range of drawing their bows. The animations are all very smooth as well. Compared to sum of all other mmorpg's out there I would have to rate the engine in DAOC above average, or another way to say it, DAOC would be in the top 10 games with regards to graphics. Characters underwent a complete redoing in the Catacombs expansion and some of the character models are very realistic looking. However on the downside there isn't a huge amount of variety to choose from to disquish your characters face. That said though the game makes up for it in the huge assortment of different equipment looks and the ablity to dye just about anything you can wear. Generally speaking I am able to pick out my closest friends in the game simply by looking at their character, so it is possible to make yourself distinquishable from everyone else. Sound: 6/10 - Sound is a category where Mythic has greatly improved upon over the years. There are background battle sounds(which sometimes do sound out of place when your in a very small group fight). Environment background noises, footsteps, water splashes, unique music by zone and town. What prevents me from giving it higher than a 7/10 though is that there are no npc sounds at all. Considering that similiar games have npc's that actually talk or even say a "one-liner" when you interact with them I simply couldn't give DAOC higher than a "fair" rating. That said though Mythic has made great strides over the years with regards to sound in their game compared to what it was when the game first went live and don't take my comments to imply that the world isn't filled with a wide variety of sounds. The area that needs improving is making the npcs feel more alive. Value: 9/10 - There is simply an amazingly huge amount of content to experience in this game, yes some of it is very repetative and most of the quests have the same feel but in terms of stuff to do and places to see there is quite a bit to see and experience. Yes it can very much have a "grind" feel to it but I was kept interested in this game for 3+ years now and it would hypocritical of me to not give a 9/10 on value. On top of that I also have to comment that the "end-game" is what really sets DAOC apart from its competition. The RVR in DAOC does have its balance issues but compared to the competition the end-game will be what keeps you playing for years. Review's Tilt: 9/10 - As I previously mentioned I have played DAOC now for 3+ years. I have a lot of fond memories from this game. Although I do feel that my time in DAOC is coming to an end I believe I will leave the game on a positive note. Although it would be quite an undertaking to start in this game as a level 1 and work your way up, I do feel that in its present condition this game could still be a rewarding experience for the new player. There are guilds on every server that are very open and helpfull to new players. I have no problem with recommending this game even to brand new players. Final thoughts: If you are really interested in this game then I suggest you check the official site for information on the different classes available in the game and a much more detailed coverage of the games features. I only covered the basic feel on the game in my review. I will add that I think this game will largely appeal to the gamer who is looking for a team-based PVP type game. If your the type of gamer who largely likes to avoid PVP in any form then I don't think I would recommend DAOC to you because the PVE part of the game just isn't as engaging as the competitions. But it should be mentioned that you aren't ever "forced" to engage in any PVP unless you play on the PVP anywhere server. I'd also like to make a special comparison to WOW. DAOC has had a lot more time to develop the RVR aspect of their game and it shows. DAOC's RVR end game certainly has alot more "meat" than the current state of WOW(for example reasons to engage in PVP and rewards for winning). I'm sure that at some future point WOW will catch up in this regard but for the time being DAOC simply has a way of pulling you into the 3-realm war and gives you real reasons to engage in the "fight". While overall I do feel WOW is a stronger game, in terms of just the "end-game" DAOC has a much stronger play experience in the "end-game".