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3.2 out of 5 stars
Horizons: Empire of Istaria - PC
Price:$7.95 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2003
I've got the game this weekend. Installed, setup account, created a Lizard cleric, no problems. Web interface (idea) is real bad. Also IE takes a lot of memory so I suggest you close the IE while the game engine is loading. (Still it may take a few minutes until XP drops the IE libraries)
The good:
- Graphics, visuals, even in such low detail level (for good performance) Istaria looks amazing.
- Sound, best music for MMORPG by far.
- Tradeskills are OK (better than other MMORPGs)
- Fighting is fun, got some skills to use and make a difference
- Can really be unique with so many races available and then so many features that can be customized (height, head shape, etc)
- Can actually multiclass and it really works.
- No exp penalty on death, no corpse runs to get gear (allows you to take risks and have more fun)
The bad:
- The web interface login.
- not enough servers for the demand.
- Loading times are ridiculous if server is highly populated
- Gathering resources for TSkills is difficult cause so many ppl doing the same (if same place).
- Unless someone is selling what you want (spell or gear) you cannot buy it.
- Not enough information anywhere about the schools and skills, didn't even know Druid was a choice from start until read about it somewhere.
- It seems to have several bugs including very nasty memory leaks (game gets real slow after a while)
- Casters are not working very well ATM
- Warrior types always take Cleric to lvl10 for heals
- NO PETS in game, huge drawback for me
- Huge BUG when abilities go grey for no apparent reason thus becoming unavailable until you log (loggin in takes quite some time).
- Lacking dungeons which I think are great fun.

Can be the real next generation MMORPG if several issues are addressed (I'm sure all problems will be fixed eventually).
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2003
Horizons, as you might have guessed from the posts here, is a jumbled bag of many different attributes, both good and bad. I'll try to cover much of each, in as fair and objective manner as possible.
As a beta tester since September, with a top of the line rig, the graphics engine is a memory hog, with major loss of frames per second in a scene drawn of any complexity. While some spell effects are indeed quite nicely done, other graphics, such as characters themselves, are rather lack luster at best. The world environment itself is drawn quite well, with but just a few unrealistic detractions that pop up every so often. Combat animation is very reasonable, while casting animations (seperate from the actual drawn spell effect) can be quite repetative.
Races are many, but their variety is mostly in their looks. While there are differing "stats" per race, the amount of that difference very quickly proves inconsequential after 10 levels. Races also have abilities, some of which are quite potent, and lends some viability to the different races, while others are lackluster at best.
The exception here is dragons. The dragon race is uniquely done in comparison to the other races, with the promised ability to fly once becoming of age. Dragons are the only race with aging (three progressive steps), have their own classed (one each for adventuring and crafting) with its quest based advancement system, and a hoard which needs attention to keep a dragon viable in combat and effects the aging process. However enticing a Dragon seems from the start, however, they are weak when young, are significantly more difficult to play and level with, and sadly, have very few options for "distinguishing" themselves from other dragons, other than by looks alone. There is also likely to be many dragons at the release of the game, until the glamour of the race begins to wear thin, when those who are looking for achievement see that this is far easier to accomplish with a normal race.
The classes of all other races are available freely amongst each race. The classes, as is normal in a new product like this, range from potent to lackluster in capability ... some, at this point, lack any viability at all in the eyes of their testers. However, it can be expected that given time, these sorts of problems will be addressed, as is the nature of MMORPGS.
Multiclassing is not only possible, but quite rewarding in Horizons. The system is done very well, for example allowing you to be primarily a ranger, but with some mage like spells if you wish, with little impact. Those who go for balanced combinations will find their path a bit more difficult, as their level "rating" is raised by due to their increased abilities. Note, while any class can technically be mated to another, same combinations are far more effective, while others are a waste of time. Usually classes that share similarities are the more rewarding ones, while combinations which are vastly different from each other, such as a warrior/mage combo, will wind up disabling nearly all of the abilities and spells of the non-current "primary class." (A multiclass character must always have one single class selected for adventuring or crafting each, and that current class is the one that gains experience, and likewise limits the other classes from their full potential)
Prestige classes are also possible in this game... one need not be simply a warrior/mage combo, but instead might chose the prestige class of Chaoswarrior, using the abilities they have gained to apply towards a single class that uniquely combines the two, once they have reached the necessary prerequisite skills by leveling to a certain point in those two classes.
Crafting in this game... from my point of view, is done extremely well. If you like crafting classes, you will love Horizons, no doubt. While not as complex as in Star Wars:Galaxies, there is challenge, and a massive amount of variety, as well as the individual tasks of gathering resources, pre-processing them, and finalizing the product. Currently, there is little in the way of customizing a product visually, or in a more complex manner than by just adding a few statistics, but at least some of this has been promised to be added some time close after the release.
Monsters in the world, from the beta testers eyes, are the same models with different paint over them. However, on the final eve of beta, a few models "hidden" from even beta tester eyes were introduced, and promises of more waiting when the servers go live are heavily rumored. All models tend to be animated very well, and they usually are every bit, often more so, capable as characters. The AI has shown a tendency of severe repetition, anther feature proportedly "hidden" from beta testers eyes. However, a few observed instances, such as other monster healers attending to engaged mobs, rather than just themselves, does bode well for the game.
The weather effects of Horizons, by near to every testers judgement, are just astounding in visuals and sounds. Blinding blizards exist, that arent just swirls and a blanketed snow fog that limits your visability... but instead variating with snatches of visability just as one would have in driving windswept snow. Area's known as "blighted" can have terrific miasma's of green fog, or torrential rain with awesomely well drawn and powerfully thunderous bolts of lightening. Some particularly unique creatures in game can even "carry pockets of blight" with them, causing the weather and landscape to change as they wander about their way. Hands down, I have not played a game with better weather effects, and currently could only complain that the "natural" weather always seemed to be consistant and localized in beta. IE, if you picked a spot, and it was a clear day there, it was always a clear day there. If it was a blizard at another spot, it was always a blizard there. Again, developers of the game claim that this will not be the truth upon release.
While the sounds from weather are great, often the rest of the games sounds are quite repeating at best. They are done fine, with nothing sticking out as incongrous, but again, its quite lackluster. Additionally, ambient sound has yet to be seen ... er ... heard implemented.
Like any MMORPG, music, particularly combat music, is dreadfully repetative. I believe it as simply the nature of most computer games. There will never be enough music in a single game to add enough variety to it, and at some point, again especially combat music, it begins to get annoying.
However... what music there is, is done very, very well. Some of the music is just mind blowing in how wonderful it is; its obvious that they put a lot of effort to get a handle on an issue that plagues computer games. There are multiple scores for combat, but still far too few to sucessfully address that issue. Otherwise, the music is thematically placed, and for example, lends a strong feeling of the culture of the city you are in. I literally have gone to cities just to sit there and listen to the music run through, and then ported to another city to listen to it's score. Some cities even have multiple scores, another attempt to add to the variety. While I speak ill of music in computer games in general, by comparison Horizons does extremely well at it, easily placing as one of my top three games with regards to its music.
As for the User Interface, it's quite modifiable and easy to use. Visually, its merely acceptable; funtionally it is quite nice. Text from chat and game information is adjustable in size and color, as are the background of all the windows, to your preference of the level of opacity. Multiple banks of hotkeys are displayable at once, with the ability to select the primary hotkey bar for keystroke use, while keeping other hotkeys visually acessable and activated by a single mouse click.
My only gripes with the User Interface is that the area in which you type in order to chat with others or issue a command is not adjustable in size, which can make for extremely small text at higher resolutions. Also, there is an issue with the text "cropping" or having parts of it dissapear preceeding your curser as you type, making a very difficult situation for those who are not expert typists such as myself, leading to games of "guess where your typo is in the missing text." Finally, the size of hotkeys are not adjustable, again leading to issues of tiny sizes at higher resolutions.
Horizons, overall, is a darn good game, with it's own bag of issues. The nature of MMORPG's lends that this is normal upon release, and will get better as development of the game progresses. For me personally, I had no qualms ordering this game, as it fits my needs. However, others, particularly those who must have an element of Player vs Player, may see the game quite differently. The best suggestion I could make is to read as many reviews as possible, or better yet, see if you can look at the game first hand with a friends assistance.
Good luck, and I hope to see you in the world of Istaria, should you decide this game is for you.
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64 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2003
True, the MMORPG scene is very very crowded. So, why Horizons?
I can't do this game justice in the allowed 1000 words, but here are some of the (publicly-available) highlights:
- EVERYTHING in the game can be crafted. Start with the necessary weapons, armor, tools. Add structures, communities, castles, machines, bridges, portals, hedges, statues, etc. etc.
- CHARACTER GROWTH - Not locked into any "job". Change schools to advance different skills. MANY different schools, including "prestige" schools with prerequisites for membership. No level caps! Tons of skills.
- MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the world - Help reclaim lands from the enemy. Free subjugated races (so they add to the nine playable races available at launch). Build houses & communities. Build "empire structures" and "artifacts" that help your community or everyone.
- HIGHLY DETAILED CRAFTING SYSTEM - Wow! Obtain formulas, acquire the proper skills, harvest over 100 different types of resources, (Wood, sap, flax, essence, carrots, iron, silver, wheat...) Obtain the proper tools, Use the proper machinery, make the item. Enhance the item. Now sell it, consign it, build with it, trade it, etc.
- CHALLENGING REAL-TIME COMBAT - Not just "click and wait until the random-number generator decides on a victor". Learn special combat skills and use them at the proper time in combat.
- STUNNING VISUALS - Real weather. Layered textures. Fluid cloth motion. Spellcasters can create jaw-dropping weather affects seen by all players. Player-dragons can take flight to reach floating cities. Huge surface world with areas in the sky and below ground. Hundreds of animations per player race.
- AMAZING SOUND - Rich cinematic score. Impressive sound effects. Combat, race, and town-specific scores.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2003
Whenever a new MMORG hits the market, one expects a few issues with the rollout. Horizons is no exception. In the past week, I have personally experienced multiple boots, along with quite a few programming bugs. I am not going to review based on these, lest I knock the review down quite a few points.
On graphics: The graphics in Horizons are excellent. The textures, overall, are very smooth, and the graphics flow nicely as you move from location to location. Considering the game world is huge and holds thousands of players per server (er shard), this is no small task. Unlike Asheron's Call 2, you do not see the lag when your character on your local machine gets out of sync with the server. The sky textures are especially nice. I have stopped just to look up at the clouds rolling by with a lovely moon in the background. One downside I have noticed is you sometimes have to stop for the engine to paint in NPCs and other characters. If you are on the move, you will completely miss many people.
Gameplay: Many of the elements still feel half baked. In many instances, you have to click a button more than once to get the desired effect. Compared to other MMORGs, this is a sore spot. Click on monster ... click on monster ... click on monster ... click attack ... click attack ... finally attack. Fortunately, the game paints items with a box when selected or you might just sit and wonder why a creature is pounding the snot out of you and you are not fighting back (also fortunate is the fact that the lower level creatures do not agro until you attack).
Menus: One thing I do not understand is why all menu items were not hotkeyed prior to release. Want to pull up the quest menu the first time. Okay, click the blue button on the hotkey menu ... click the blue button ... click the blue button ... now, choose Quests from the menu. Now, you want to see your knowledge box ... click the blue button. Did I mention that you sometimes have to click multiple times to do anything.
Character play: Overall, very nice. The humans run rather stupid, but that is a minor annoyance, as you get to see gnomes scooting around, which is rather amusing.
Character race: While choice of race does not affect gameplay that much (all start with the same health), there are benefits to each class. Dragons and half-giants, for example, have greater strength, which helps you with damage at the lowest levels. Once you advance a few levels, the extra points are less significant. It is really neat you can choose a dragon to play.
Character classes: The beginner's choices are rather limited in both crafting and adventuring, but you will find that there are plenty of prestige classes as you move up the skill tree. Be sure to craft and adventure, as you will want to create or repair items to get better weapons and/or armor. Anything you craft, but do not need, can be sold, either to pawn brokers or other characters. The character classes are one of the things that really makes the game shine.
Combat: Fairly similar to most other systems. Click to choose ... click to choose ... click attack ... click attack. (OK, except that you often have to click multiple times). After that, it is largely a system of watching your character and the creature beat the snot out of each other. Like most MMORGs, you can also choose special abilities to use when attacking.
NPCs: This is where Horizons shines a bit more than some systems. There are plenty of NPCs in the game, many of which can give you tasks. You can also ask for short, medium and long tasks from many of the NPCs. The experience you gain from tasks is largely based on the time and difficulty.
Community: In Horizons, you can purchase and own land. If you desire, you can build a variety of structures on your own land. Rather nice. It is easy to group and form guilds, which helps with the community structure of Horizons. Finding other players is not as easy as some other systems, however.
Pluses - graphics, NPCs, choices in character race and classes and community (if it really takes off)
Negatives - hitting the button ... hitting the button, ad nauseum. Early release bugs. Menus not being hotkeyed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2005
Every day I play I see this game becoming more and more finished - since the last reviews especially! Classes are more balanced, crafting is fun, fighting is also fun and easy.

Basics: Horizons is a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG). It has a detailed, and heavily involved craft system and also a player vs. enemy fighting system (limited player vs. player is currently on the testing shard and may go live soon). The two are closely integrated. There are 10+ playable races, including 2 player unlocked ones, dryads and satyrs. While there are the basic races (humans, elves, dwarves) there are also very unique races (satyrs, dragons) In fact, playing a dragon vs. playing a biped can be seen as a completely different game. As for classes, there are many to choose from, both fighting and crafting. One the best things about this games is the multiclassing capability - if you choose warrior as a school, you're not stuck with it - you could pick up a magic using class later as well. The same goes for crafting classes. (Dragons are excluded from the multiclassing thing, they only have 2 classes - dragon adventurer and dragon crafter.)

Learning the game: When I first learned the game, I did find it difficult, but I don't think I had a typical experience (long story short - the only game manual I had was in german.) The developers have recently put in a new dragon tutorial island though and I went through that. Though it doesn't teach you everything, you do learn the basics as a dragon, and I found most of the relevant information covered. There is a new biped tutorial island coming soon as well.

Changes in the past year:

Dragons: The Rite of Passage (becoming adult and being able to fly) is long finished for dragons and the Ancient RoP is nearing completion as well! There is no hoard decay, that was taken out well over a year ago. Dragons have become a more powerful class as well when compared to bipeds - we've enjoyed a pretty sizable armor increase in particular.

Bipeds: I'm primarily a dragon player so I can't speak much for bipeds, but I know they've added many quests for bipeds, most notably racial specific quests.

General: Much has changed in the last year - expert forms were introduced widely and are now readily available. The land mass has changed noticably - monsters relocated, and many areas totally reorganized to make more sense for newbies. Monster classes were completely overhauled and redesigned for tougher and more interesting fights. Crafting has been worked over too, especially metal crafting. The technique portion of crafting has been reworked too. I'm sure I'm missing things here too! But all in all, enough has definitely changed for those who tried this game a year ago to warrant another try again today.

Community: As always, this game has the most mature base of players I've seen. People actually help each other - there's little griefing. Everyone also seems intelligent, there's no AOL speak or leet speak that I've seen. If you're sick of the kids in WoW, this is a nice place to take a break.

Graphics: The graphics have largely remained the same. The graphics are a little primitive compared to games nowadays, but they're still completely adequate. The atmosphere and landscapes are probably the best part of the graphics. The game uses the same engine, which has its problems. Although it has been worked on, there are still memory problems, but an occasional relog can usually fix that.

Sounds/Music: The music is great, some of the best I've heard for a game. There have also been some new scores introduced for various areas, and I haven't found one that I don't like yet. Ambient sounds - there definitely could be more, as it is, there are very few. Fight sound effects are fine, nothing amazing but certainly not terrible. All in all, I tend to leave music and sound effects on when playing even through over a year of play. The music is just that good!

Overall: The game has improved greatly in the last year. The company is obviously dedicated to improving the game as well, and it seems Horizons will be around for a while. If you're an old player who hasn't tried it in a while, I definitely suggest another try. If you're a new player, give it a try too!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2003
Horizons is not for everyone. It doesn't have PvP and the monsters don't drop pretty armor and swords for you to play with. Dragons are going to be very difficult to level up to the point where they can even fly. It is a game where griefers, macros, kill stealing, ninja looters are not welcome and they won't even enjoy this type of game. Horizons is a game where if we don't work together then the undead can and will take over our cities.
In Horizons things are not handed to you on a silver shield. The crafting system has great depth and the combat system grows increasingly complex.
I will play Horizons. If you want to play then read up, ask questions and learn about it. Decide if it is for you based on the facts, not the incorrect and odd rumors.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2004
The game hasn't changed much after beta.
o Not much content.
o Several players now boast level 100 just after 1 month of play.
o Server events pose lag issues worse than earlier games.
o Regardless of hardware, frame rates are below par.
o "Skater" and "standing grey corpses" as other players approach.
o Dragon race is unfinished.
o Observe several classes solo higher level mobs
o Lack of item decay keeps craftable items in low demand
o Quests are not very involved and lack creativity.
For a list of pros/cons and all the chatter, check out [...] or [...] Post your question or read the commentary posted by the current subscribed player-base.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
As far as I'm concerned, this game takes what's best about UO (a complex crafting system) and EQ (stunning graphics), combines them, and then eliminates one big pain-in-the-neck plaguing the casual gameplayer (player-versus-player combat).
I'll admit it -- I'm a MMORPG wimp. I don't like to kill players and don't particularly enjoy being killed. I like to make things, build things, and casually poke around the game world.
I've played Horizons now through 80 aggregate levels of experience in my three classes (Spellcrafter / Mason / Healer). I feel competitive, despite the fact that I'm limited to evening and weekend play. Here are some other thoughts:
1. The crafting system and options are the best I've ever seen. I was easily able to quickly purchase a nice plot of land with money earned selling spells to other players. About 10-12 of my items sell each day off the in-game consignors, who act as your vendor for a 10% fee. Level advancement in crafting can be boring, but it's not grueling, and the payoffs can be quick and substantial if you focus on high demand items. And the number of create-able items are amazing. As a merely low-to-mid-level spellcrafter (level 35), there are literally hundreds of different spell combinations that I can put together.
2. The land / construction system is ingenious. Buy a plot, plan it out, and start construction. Each building unit requires resource contributions that must be made by several different crafters. If you are an independent sort, master all the construction crafting skills (Mason, fitiing, carpenry, etc.) and make those buildings yourself! Or, if you're so inclined, "deposit" money on your structures. Other players can draw off this money by contributing resources towards the construction. It's a real thrill to drop by my plot and see a couple of carpenters there adding wood. And if I need a few silver, I can make some bricks and drop them off for payment somewhere else. Unfortunately, not all buildings work -- so right now, some (particularly the much-coveted storage silos) are merely decoration.
3. Combat is not overly challenging or overly easy. I can solo mobs at my adventuring level with reasonable success. Experience gain is steady and fair. Loot drops are weak, but not pitiful. You'll never get rich in this game if you don't do some crafting, but adventuring helps facilitate crafting (through the collection of craft ingredients and the enhancement of attributes) and does provide a small income stream.
4. The game has easy to use and comprehensive communications features. Contacting other players and managing multiple conversations is simple and efficient.
5. Griefing is minimal, at worst. Camping really doesn't pay off. And the world is big enough to support the player base.
6. Lag has recently become an issue for me, but only during high-traffic times. I can craft away from 6-8 a.m., but crafting at 9 p.m. has become quite irritating. Inventory takes a long while to update and I spend as much time waiting as I do crafting. Lag hasn't affected my adventuring at all, however, so I bash beasts at night and craft during off-hours.
7. The huge world is a bit barren. You can run in a straight line for 10 minutes without seeing a single mob. That's a bit weak.
8. The game logs me out for no reason about once every 12 hours of gameplay. Logging back in takes about 90 seconds on my DSL connection.
Bottom line: A terrific game with some early problems. AE needs to fix its server lag problems during peak hours. It needs to fill in the huge world it's built. It needs to get its buildings in working order. If those three issues are fixed, the game's a clear Five Star purchase. Until then, I give it Four.
*edit* 1/29/2004
The game is getting better and better as the weeks go by. New features are appearing each week, problems are being remedied, and new areas are being opened for exploration (through community action, no less!). If you've been biding your time to buy, I think the time is now.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2004
After a long, long (years) wait for this game to come out, and all the hype surrounding it, I pre-ordered my copy and rushed to pick it up as soon as they called to say it had arrived at the store.
But the game that was supposed to encourage roleplay, allow dragons to fly, have characters who aged or never went fighting... The game that was supposed to have such character design features so that no two characters looked alike even...
Characters do not age. You talk to NPCs via a private chat box that no one else can hear, so you don't really "interact" with them, but instead choose which quest you'd rather they give you to maximize your experience points or money gain. Plenty of characters look alike, though there is a lot to choose from when designing a character, it's certainly far from limitless. And everyone will be wearing the same darn armor anyway, as everyone wants to generally be wearing the best armor for their class and level. Everything in the game has a level base on when you can start using it, and some tools become worthless after you've passed up a certain level.
Crafters [are] actually worthwhile, but it's boring as hell to be one usually, and you have to search down your raw materials before the higher levels get to it with their heavy duty cargo discs that can carry more for them, and their better tools that can ore more in the first place.
Mind you, some things required for the crafting can [only] be found on the mobs, so don't expect to be crafting everything in the game unless you make a lot of cash selling items to buy the resources off the fighter classes, choose a fighting class too, or have a friend who gets the goods for you.
Oh.. and the game favors specialization on all levels. All the wonderful things about being able to play a combination class of, say, cleric and warrior? Nope, you'll likely get your virtual butt handed to you if you don't specialize and become a paladin or something later. Mind you, you have to get level 15 or so in both before you can become a paladin. And don't even think about becoming an adult dragon who flies. They only recently added the flying ability to the game, and it can only happen after you get past a certain level and stuff your hoard full of crap. And hoard depreciates over time - and more so once you're an adult. I hear that nerf happened back in beta.
They recently nerfed the archers to make them pretty much useless, and since they were who I was having the most fun with (even after the first nerf to "pinion" they were still fun, but now you might as well not bother to make one) I've canceled my account.
There's a huge disparity between the levels - you can group with higher level people and still get experience and all, but stay in the back as the mobs will crush you with a glance. The mobs tend to know cool spells before their player counterparts get them. Mind you, the mobs tend to flock together - strangely there are miles and miles of road that are both unguarded and unclaimed by either good or evil. Although "miles" is a relative term, as the world feels pretty darn tiny. Then again, I suppose it doesn't need to be too big with no people in it. Did I mention the utter lack of townsfolk in Horizons yet? Yep, everyone has a purpose - a trainer, a merchant, a questholder, a guard (and they sometimes have quests too). No townsfolk just wandering about to make it feel like a real world.
The major in-game events are both geared towards higher level characters (newbies need not attend) and, I've heard they are major lag-fests.
There's hardly any roleplaying going on, even on the roleplay servers, so if that's your game - don't bother. And if you're like me and want to make a bunch of characters and play until you feel out which combo you want to make your main character - well you're only allowed to make five characters [total]. And I mean total amongst all the other servers. Not five PER server, but just five total.
I'd be sorry I gave up my EverQuest account if this game hadn't pretty much turned me off on this kind of game altogether for now...
Also, tech support is next to non-existent. My husband had trouble with his account a couple weeks after signing up, and the best they could do was give him a work-around that allowed him to get into his characters if he changed his password each time before he tried to log in. They didn't communicate with him on what they were trying to do (if anything) to fix it until he complained. I'm not sure if they ever got it fixed, it became such a hassle logging in for him - "will we get in or not tonight?" - that we stopped bothering. Half my enjoyment of these games is getting to play them with him.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2005
I've played this game on and off for a while now, and I can say that it is getting better. Most of the issues past reviewers have complained about have been fixed, and content is being added each month. This game is now almost where it should have been at release:P. 1 more year in development would have been better than an early (very bugged) release, but it has been getting better.
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