Aion’s world is simply effervescent, with lush landscapes that draw players in for a wide variety of fun and excitement. Aion is undoubtedly beautiful, while the first few hours of the game is simply wonderful through the CryEngine powered visuals and scenery. Unfortunately, after the first dozen or so levels, Aion’s grinding-scheme becomes all too lucid from the mission structures and gameplay design elements with relationship to the storyline. Non-player characters with stories to tell open up a venue with others who have the persona of active boards, and quests that are slightly imaginative early on are replaced with a monotonous mix of fetch, deliver, kill, and collect objectives.
The post-cataclysmic world of Atreia poses a great threat to the species of robust characters, fueled by Aion’s detailed character creation system. The all-embracing customization options are more reminiscent of those in sports games than in other massively multiplayer online offerings. The balance in the game look itself is a off-putting. After choosing one of the two factions and one of the four starting classes to play as, you could easily spend an hour or two perfecting your character’s look. In the wrong hands, though, tools likes these can be too powerful as players go out of their way to create the most ridiculous and improbable avatars imaginable. It is weird to imagine a big buff character being overwhelmed by measly insects. This would not be a problem if the size was moderated, except that the extremes are so far apart with miniature characters that are ransacked by insects. The animations as well have incredible problems with some characters being sped up while others in extreme slow motion. This is a constant reminder that Aion is a game in itself.
Combat in Aion is repetitive in terms of borrowing from other MMO games, but the combat does place a greater emphasis on skills and abilities that chain together to form combos. Many moves can only be performed during a short window immediately after another move is performed, and most of these moves are automatically mapped to the same key. Cooldown indicators for these moves are overlayed alongside your character during combat, so you know exactly when they become available to you without having to take your eyes off the action. The combat design is a great system because it not only makes the occasionally spectacular-looking combos easy to perform, but also dramatically cuts down on the number of buttons that you need to arrange on your screen. The only downside to combat is that it can feel like an extended quick-time event in which you respond to on-screen commands.
Flight within Aion is activated when level 25 is reached and the necessary quests are completed to enter the Abyss. This hectic land situated in the middle of the Elyos and Asmodian territories is where the bulk of player-versus-player combat takes place. There, factions (and specifically, large player legions and alliances) battle for control of fortresses that are vulnerable to attacks on a seemingly random schedule. Fortress sieges involve destroying and repairing gates, deactivating an Aetheric field (force field) that needs to allow your allies can attack from the skies, and capturing nearby artifacts that bequeath significant bonuses on the faction that controls them. Nevertheless, these battles are still more about overpowering the enemy with sheer numbers than they are about tactics.
It is very much disappointing that Aion’s earlier levels could not revolve around the mind-numbing grinding system in place for the entire game. While Aion can be fun with a mass number of people, the gameplay becomes taciturn. a shame that Aion’s early engaging gameplay so quickly devolves into a mind-numbing grind.