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01 Dec 2008

Having a hard time with reality? Need to escape from the harshness of the real world for a few hours? Well, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but if you’ve got a vivid imagination, a credit card for the monthly online fees and LOTS of spare time on your hands, it might be exactly what you’re looking for.Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Humans and Goblins are the races of Warhammer. Once you’ve purchased the software and registered to play online, you can then choose a race and class to play, improve your skill levels, kill other players, form unions with the other races in your realm and, ultimately, dominate your enemies.

Warhammer Online has taken the world by storm, with half a million people signing up in the first month of release. Usually gamers living at our end of the world have to endure annoying server connection issues when playing online, which can be a serious  buzz-kill. Thankfully, Warhammer Online features oceanic servers that cater for Australians and New Zealanders, which is almost unprecedented (games like World of Warcraft and EverQuest don’t offer the same thing to subscribers from down under). It’s nice to finally feel like part of the world again, even if it’s in a make-believe reality.

With so many MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) to choose from, why would you choose Warhammer? Well, as we’ve mentioned above, if you’re a Kiwi, having minimal connectivity issues is one huge incentive. Imagine playing a game with 100 other people in one place when you’re trying to organise a guild raid (a convergence of a group of people who are there to hunt and kill one particular target) and disconnecting all the time. Being able to go somewhere without timing out so much that you end up falling off a cliff makes a big difference to your online experience - especially when you’re paying for it.

Incentive number two is balance. Warhammer balances every important aspect of the gaming experience and does a much better job than some of its predecessors. Experience points are spread out over various activities. Gone are the days of having to begrudgingly ‘grind’ out meagre experience points by killing the same boring old creatures ad nauseam. Now you can also choose to complete a multitude of quests (which are extremely well thought out and organised by level and difficulty), or you can participate in ‘Realm versus Realm’ combat.

Realm versus Realm is what Warhammer is all about – good races versus evil races. You can choose to play one of two ‘factions’: the good (High Elves, Humans and Dwarves) and the evil (Dark Elves, Evil Humans, Orcs and Goblins). You cannot alter this decision because it is locked into whichever server you play on. However, you can log on to a different server and play as the opposing realm, but the game is set up so you have all your characters in one realm. Realm versus Realm combat is fast, exhilarating and more fun than you can shake a sword at. Real-time battles between players from around the world are fantastic fun. Goodbye dodgy artificial intelligence, hello devious real people! Another important factor – especially if you’re the type of social gamer who enjoys being part of a larger group of players – is the time zones. Thanks to Pacific Ocean regional servers, most people will be playing at the same time as you. No longer will you have to play with Americans at ridiculous hours of the night.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is a well thought-out and expansive world. It includes all the best elements of role-playing games and has truly raised the bar on the user experience. If you need a fantastical and truly engaging break from reality, Warhammer Online won’t disappoint.

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