Thanks to a tip from West Karana's comment section, Pete S. noted that free keys were being given out for the new Asian MMO, Shin Megami (ok...Megaten for short)...
Basically an online version of the console based titles, it truly matches to the originals in so many ways.
I have played around a bit, and as Tipa noted, we did not sign an NDA and my notice of being accepted into Closed Beta also did not state an NDA as such. So, just some minor impressions (even though it is CB, we should at least have a rough outline of the game right now).
Graphics - Spot on Megaten. It totally reminded me of the PS2's first release, Nocturne.
A slight glow surrounds the visuals, and the details look almost cell shaded, or water colored in some aspects.
For characters, you do not get much in the way of selection for models, clothing, hairstyles, etc. Luckily it does seem that a lot of options IN the game are available. (Saw one player who had a suit that looked very Tron like).
A few niggles are like the movement of the models which seems overly slow. There is not anything in the way of a run, and it is also reminiscent of the PS2.
The other issue was the fact that when you start the game, you have a limited selection of resolutions. 1024x768 and 1280x1024 was all. Luckily, a little investigation turned up an options file in the game folder with a .txt extension. I was able to change this to 1920x1080 for HD viewing on my living room LCD. This then presented an issue with "Teeny" font. You could read NOTHING. I lowered this to a 1440x900 HD resolution and now things are legible and the graphics scale to widescreen properly. A nice bonus, and a good start.
Hopefully fonts may be selectable or scalable down the road.
Mechanics - This includes combat. First off, I did what I always do, and did a test to see if the Xbox 360 controller can be used for the game.
Right off the bat you find out you do not have a lot of control of various options, but you can reassign key commands. For some reason though, quests would not reassign to my quest log key command (the J key or "START" on the controller). It kept opening the alignment window (yea..."alignments"...more on that in a few....)
Anyways, a little finagling got my basics down pat. I reassigned certain skills to the face buttons, assigned heals, etc. More testing is needed to see if this will hold up. For now, I have as much control as I need.
There is a lot of things to track in the game. Not just the basic skills for your weapon attacks, but attributes, special attacks...it is mind numbing, and AWESOME at the same time.
You do not choose a class as well, you specialize in areas to use the type of weaponry and skills you wish.
Combat is a real time affair, and reminds me of Star Ocean from Square Enix, with chosen skills being used to attack, block, counter, and magic..and even guns.
Due to some server issues though, this did not seem overly responsive, and this could be an issue if they do not iron it out. High latency will kill a game like this. But, the concept is sound, and new and unique, and has me intrigued.
Another aspect from the original games is the demon capture (more like parlay or threaten...lol).
There is so much, that I do not want to make this a huge post about it.
If you want more in depth coverage, check out this mini review.
One aspect which I have not touched on yet, and is really important for me during my current gaming is...
Story - And it is there. From the start you are given an assignment, and near the end of this, a cutscene. As well, you can make decisions. which will later play into the "alignment" aspect.
The dialogs are cutaways like in Age of Conan, where you move to the character taking up the screen.
As well, some discussions require you to make choices, which will most likely lead to movement in an alignment field. From Good to Chaos and a Neutral, where you start.
Since I have just started, I have not had much chance to investigate this yet. But, this alone makes for an interesting choice in an MMO.
Most MMO's if they do have sides, are chosen by the player right off the bat. But, with this mostly Single Player aspect being used in a full out MMO, proves to be a unique turn.
I am interested to see how this progresses.
The game is not without faults.
Quest tracking is pretty bad. The quest log itself is pretty useless. I had to go back several times to ask a question of the quest giver to get an idea of how to progress.
The mapping is horrid as well. Using a computer like grid to display a map, and small icons barely lit up, and you can mouse over these for descriptors...but overall poorly done.
Some may say "It is CB", but, this always drives me nuts, when the game is already released overseas, so a lot of these issues may continue to exist.
I know they are setting up servers and testing, but the lag and disconnects have been rampant. And this is not even stress test.
The popularity of the series will see a huge influx of players for sure. Already I have seen tons of people, so it is off to a good start. The lag issues could be painful as they progress. Hopefully Aerie can adjust to a popular title, and have the manpower and skill to pull this off.
Even with the faults, what we have here is something that strays from the norm. Some similarities exists (in training I had to kill 3 creatures, yet I can skip that, and since I have been out of training I have been doing unique quests), but with total control of your character and the path they follow (class and alignment), it will be surefire fun for the going price...FREE.