Free Play Reviews: Shaiya (Archive)

Shaiya by Aeria Games

Well damn, number nine and we’re still here. Hard to believe it’s already been two months huh? Although some say that people will pay more for better quality, Andras and I will stay here to demand the best of both worlds.

Let’s get right into it then, eh?

The Story

The back-story to Shaiya is a simple one, however it leaves a feeling that you are part of a rather epic battle.

The idea is that after the Nordein people (a large brutish race) were removed from their throne up high in the heavens of by the goddess Etain, the Dumianas (Elves, really) grew angry with her, and actually killed her. As a result, gods fought each other for the control of Teos, plaguing it with monsters.

Eventually, it would come down to two goddess, one representing light, and the other representing darkness, still fighting over the world of Teos. As a result, the Dumianas split into two factions, both siding with the different gods. Those allying themselves with the goddess of light would call themselves Elves (told you), and on the opposing side were the Vail (I don’t care what anyone says, these are just Dark Elves).

As the war raged on, the Nordein returned, calling themselves “Death Eaters” came to the aid of the Vail, and the Humans appeared to ally with the Elves. You must choose who your loyalties lie with, and help bring an end, to this ongoing struggle.

Getting Started

So, now you’re pumped to play right? Let’s get that character set up. But before you do that you need to pick which army to ally with. You can either join the Alliance of Light, (Elves and Humans) or the Union of Fury (Vail((Dark elves)) and Nordein). This sounds important in the beginning, because you can only be on one side per server. But since there’s two servers to choose from, it really isn’t that big a deal. In the end it hardly even matters what side you take, since each race mirrors the other in the classes they use, and their only real difference is in name only.

Humans are mostly like the Nordein, and Elves are similar to the Vail (And vice versa). Although this removes a layer of uniqueness, this makes sure everyone is on even ground.

One thing that is however interesting about the classes is how the classes are set up in description, and is similar to Anarchy Online’s (Also covered in Free Play #5) class system. Although Shaiya doesn’t actually slap a difficulty level on the classes, it does have a set of bars rating the Attack, Defense, Group effectiveness and Solo effectiveness, making it easy to figure out what class suits your play-style best.

Lastly, you must decide what difficult you want to play on.

What?

This goes on the aspect of “interesting” things in the game (Note I didn’t say “good”, just “interesting”). There are four difficulties: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Ultimate. On easy mode you double the experience you gain, however you can not learn “Special” skills, and only can reach level thirty. In normal, you go at normal XP gain, but can also reach level fifty, etc etc. Now, you might be thinking, “Well, I’m going to just start on Ultimate and not have to grind through those first three difficulties.” But, of course, you can’t. You must beat Normal to unlock Hard, and hard, to unlock ultimate. I was initially impressed at the concept of “easy” for just helping you dip your foot in the water, but forcing you to go through three more difficulty levels, each at a higher level cap, and slower speed seems cruel.

However, to some it is a pleasant way to extend your full game experience (If you actually enjoy being forced to do that sort of thing, I don’t want to meet you.)

But let’s not be dragged down by that quite yet, it couldn’t hurt to give the game a try can it?

GamePlay/World

Yes, yes it can.

This opening has got to be one of the most disappointing beginnings ever. After a brief in-game tutorial, no matter what race I play, I get some kill-quest to find some strange animal, which happens to be so powerful, that the guards can’t handle it. In the case of my human fighter, apparently they are being overwhelmed by a plague of thief monkeys.

Thief Monkeys? Really? Okay, fine. At least it’s different. So it looks like I’m going to go hunt for them in the forest and then make some gold I guess.

Except that’s not the case either, I walk maybe ten feet outside the town to find that it seems the entire road is covered in these non-hostile monkeys, who just walk back and forth, barely straying from the road if at all. When one is killed, moments later another comes back in a bright light.

…Maybe the guards just couldn’t see the monkeys with those big helmets they have on, yeah?

As I completed quest after quest, all amazingly close to each other, I noticed that they occasionally have timed quests, which I also call “grind quests”. The entire point of these quests is to kill as many enemies of a certain type that you can within sixty minutes and still get back to the quest giver. Usually there is a minimum amount that you need to kill for the reward, but the higher amount of enemies killed, the better the gold reward is. So, that’s kind of interesting, not bad either. However it was on my third timed quest for my Nordein where I realized why all quest enemies are so close to each other.

They don’t give directions.

That’s right, for some inane reason, the developers thought it would be a cool idea if they gave you a marker to find people you owe quests for, but not for where your actual targets are. It then became a painfully long time attack to scour the map for that one type of enemy, because it has to be a specific type of enemy. For instance, kill five Doomfall Sentinels. Not a thing else. Doomfall Warrior? No. Doomfall…Hero? No. Just the sentinels. Now I’m no longer looking to find where the enemies are, but where I left my sanity as I wandered up and down the hills to find those Arachne creatures.

Although in the overall scheme of progression, it can be a pain to get some of these things done, playing the game itself is very nice. The in-game animations are very realistic and fluid, making you feel much more immersed in the game play as you use your double sword to slash your opponent to the side, or bringing down your large two handed axe onto the enemies head. And that’s just using auto-attack. All attacks are well done, and is definitely a step up from World of Warcraft.

PVP

Although the PVE in Shaiya is lacking, the PVP in it is a shining beacon to other games, and can be compared to a more limited form of Lineage 2. Shaiya sports 1500 vs 1500 realm versus realm combat, with  the Union of Fury and Alliance of Light players going head to head for dominance. The winners of these battles are given the blessings of their goddess, empowering them even further. For those who’d rather fight on smaller scales, there is Guild Versus Guild combat, and an Arena for all to compete in.

The combat has a nice combination of number crunching (Distributing points into stats and skill strengths) and fast paced combat, by knowing when to conserve your energy and use your skills, while double tapping the left, right, and back movement keys to avoid getting hit.

Admittedly not many games are good at PVP, but this game really knows what it’s doing in this regard.

The Catch

Aeria Games, like most Asian F2P MMOs, features a Micro-Transaction system to buy in-game items. One special thing about it is that you first must buy “Aeria Game Points”. Aeria points are a universal RMT system that you can utilize in any of Aeria Game Entertainment’s MMOs, so that if you buy an excess, but get tired of one of their games, you can use it in one of their other ones.

The only downside is the one that follows all F2P MMOs is that the paying players can have the upper-hand over the free players, however that can’t be helped, as they’re trying to add incentive to get you to pay. However there is no actual problem that makes it even harder for our fellow cheap-skates.

Conclusion

Shaiya online is mediocre at best if you like PVE content, however it is a great place to go for people who enjoy PVP. If Lineage 2 is starting to burn a hole in your pocket, but you don’t want to give up bashing other players, I’m going to suggest giving Shaiya a shot.

However, if you’re looking to adventure and slay dragons with your friends, look elsewhere.

This is Riknas, and I hope you got some good info from this Free Play Blog.

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((This review was written in the year 2009 and may not be completely faithful to the current state of the game))

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