I have to hand it to this game. Released in 2001, this sci-fi MMORPG is still kicking it 9 years later.
I began playing it shortly after its release, stopped for 5 years, and came back to find most of the same people still at it. They join up, play for a year or two, leave for school or an affair to chase tail, but they always come back. I’ve even seen people fall back on it while waiting for the newer games to drop major updates. Anarchy is a unique blend of sci-fi, interwebz humor, and fantasy that seem to addict its players despite its old age. (There’s even a reference in it to Ceiling Cat watching you, well, you know.) Whatever the catching ingredient is, it’s still working, and you can play it for free if you want to get a feel for it.
STORYLINE: There are three factions you can play as. Clan: Mad Max looking freedom fighters who believe the only way to survive is to ensure personal freedom and conserve resources- Think Three Dog from Fallout 3. Omni: Kinda like the villains in Spaceballs, utilize what we have in the name of progress and crush opposition to the regime- More like Zorg from 5th Element. And then there’s Neutral for people who want to pal-up with whoever is currently in power. Each faction has different cities and safe zones, and there are numerous pvp events and areas that pit the factions against one another. In addition, other modes of play allow the factions to work together. To read more about the plot check it out here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchy_Online
EXPANSIONS AND RAIDS: The original version took place entirely on Rubi-Ka, the notum-rich main planet. There was plenty to do; team missions, dyna bosses, mass raids… But the expansions have brought level upon level of new story lines and events. Alien Invasion offers motherships to be raided, Shadowlands brings the chance to explore heaven and hell, new end-game instances and sector raids have challenged players to build new team strategies. All the while there is a multitude of ways to personalize your weapons and build just the specific armor you need to boost the skills you want to hone.
Each guild, or ‘org,’ can build a customizable city for all org-mates to use. This personalized city has player shops where you can sell things, a control tower to spawn instances, an HQ that offers bonuses to stats and skills… Just don’t fill the inside of the main hall with rubber duckies for crying out loud…. And while your own city is thriving you can gang up and lay waste to the tower field of a rival org.
There is even a Mech-mode where you can stomp around the great outdoors in armored machinery or turrets.
Holiday events always offer special social gear (or sometimes even useful, rare items). EX: Killing Pumpkinheads on Halloween might get you a nice set of red devil horns to wear into town.
CHARACTERS AND CLASSES: There are four types of classes, the first three of which can be played as male or female. Solitus: Human-like and balanced. Opifex: Elf-like and agile. Nanomage: Hellraiser-like intelligent beings. Atrox: Giant, muscled meat shields.
The classes are numerous.
- Adventurer – ability to transform into different animals for different skill boosts, and good at healing.
- Agent – can mimic the role of any other class at a cost of efficiency, and good at stealth and headshotting.
- Bureaucrat – can charm enemies into fighting for him, boost XP and mystify attackers. Can also summon his own henchmen and love puppets.
- Doctor – the healer, of course, and always high in demand.
- Enforcer – the tank class. He can taunt and pull the attention of all attackers onto him, great with a pocket doc… and boost the team’s strength and stamina. He’s basically a ton of HP between you and the enemy.
- Engineer – He builds robots that fight for him. Some people prefer to skill their engi so he can have a war machine 5 times his own level , but others focus on trade skills making this guy invaluable to building certain things for you… most charge a small tip.
- Fixer – this speedster is the king of hacking and getting around. Always played as a ranged character (ie: dual guns), he can help you get to any pixel of AO you desire.
- Keeper – Basically, your techno-paladin. He can be a good tank, and he gets buffs that boost your teams healing, nano (magic), and armor. He’s basically your knight in shining armor. He can’t heal by casting, but he has auras that heal himself and the team. He can’t steal the attention of a field of enemies like an enforcer, but he’ll be the second thing they chew on.
- Martial Artist- Third best healer in the game, good at soloing like the adventurer, and good at dealing damage. They tend to be a cheap class to play as you don’t have to worry about as many weapons for them.
- Meta-Physicist- The sociopath of the game. His anger (amongst other things…) manifest into beings that fight for him. He can solo a good number of things by sleeping behind a wall while his pets do the dirty work. Most MPs in the game seem to be quite aloof, but also one of the most highly demanded for their buffs.
- Nano-Technician- These squishy guys can usually deal mass amounts of area of effect damage. They cast enormous nanos (spells) after rooting and blinding opponents, or nuke a field of dozens of monsters from a safe location. Makes me think of Pinhead or some BDSM wizard.
- Shade- Your anti-keeper. This backstabbing, assassin character is played as melee, and thrives on sneaking and backstabbing and dumping mass amounts of damage...from behind. The only problem? Squishy. Great to use for stabbing people in the back while they are focused on a tank. …Dirty scoundrels.
- Soldier- Sought frequently for his armor buffs, the soldier can dump mass amounts of damage. They’re good at quick kills, good in pvp, and great for whittling down enemies in a team.
- Trader- The main tradeskill man. They can build it, combine it, transform it, sell it, you name it. Just tip him well for his services, or the next time you see him in a pvp zone you’ll find your entire team rooted to the ground and your stats drained while his buddies catch up and jump you.
CUSTOMIZATION: What really makes this game is the complexity of how much you can do with your character. Its not just the wardrobe, or the weapons (melee or ranged, 2handed or 1, blunt or edged or snipe or full auto?), or the armor (should I go for evasion or damage output?), that you can choose for your character, but the fact that you can take the squishiest, most unlikely breed, and turn it into its polar opposite and manage a respectable unique character out of it; Such as a nanomage Enforcer.
The skilling has been called hard and Ive seen people driven away from it, but its rewarding if you take the time to figure it out. You have your base skills, casting skills, trade skills etc…. On top of that there is research which allows you access to bonus skills and perks which open up new lines of additional skills for you to pursue, based on what class and role you’re looking to fullfill. The more perks and research you finish, the more attacks that will open up for you to use.
There is talk of Funcom updating the graphics, which I hope would not only benefit the die hard players that keep returning, but also bring in some new blood. If you’re bored and curious, check it out and sign up for the free to play account.