Shattered kingdoms is one of the many hack and slash mud these days attempting to Claim RolePlay. Given the myriad of games making this claim, I was first a little wary to try it out, but when I finally got around to it, I was somewhat surprised. I came in expecting the roleplay would be a gimmick term thrown out and the game itself wouldn't have any roleplay whatsoever, like many who make the claim. I was wrong on that regard. So wrong in fact, I feel Shattered Kingdoms has raised the bar for its level of play.
On the hack & slash and tactical aspect, SK has a far more balanced game than you're likely to find on many other muds. Through use of skills, party arrangement, equipment and spells, you can do a great number of things. The combat is far more than just kill x loot y, in fact the WAY you go about the killing can have an enormous affect on how successful you are. What level you are and the skills aren't quite so important as how you plan your battles. In these regards, SK is light years above most H&S. They don't have some hundred thousand classes and races and instead of making a whole lot of duplicate spells and abilities, each one has it's unique features, with some small exceptions.
The player killing aspect is another thing to consider, as it's a huge part of the game. After all, killing npcs all day can get quite boring. Just about anyone is opened to be player killed, however what prev2ents random player killing is the Roleplay, which we'll get to a little later. A fairly effective justice system keeps the random player killing down and ensures the game will have at least some method to the madness. Given most player killing games tend to end up being newbie unfriendly as a result, SK has successfully balanced the PK of the game with newbie friendliness.
In the area of newbie friendliness, the game is surprisingly successful. While I have not personally heard much from the staff, I didnít need to. The other players have been willing to help out in most cases and the help files are quite well documented, with a few exceptions. There are holes in the helpfiles where important things, such as ways you can lose XP and other penalties, are a little more buried than they should be. But at least the files are there, even if they are not as readily apparent as one might hope. As far as complexity, the game allows for someone to simply walk around and kill stuff, but at the same time the inner workings are more much in-depth than they appear. This lends to a fairly straight forward newbie experience as well as a more deep and customizable veteran one.
Now on to the roleplay. At first the game requires you to stay in character and doesn't even really give an OOC (out of character) option. With different languages and with 'adjectives' showing instead of names when someone walks into the room, the roleplay would appear promising. And to be fair, SK has raised its standards significantly over the average wannabe rp game. It is in RP that I have the biggest complaints. As with all games the players will make all the difference. In my experience fewer than half of them seem to have any concept of the difference between OOC and IC (In character). They seem to take things personally that occur in game and then argue about it out of game as though it is a reflection of the player's personality and not their character. Very well played characters can often be chastised because they acted in an IC way that doesn't flow with how the players OOCíly wished they would of acted. As well this leaves players to ignore their IC personalities and OOC info if acting OOCíly instead of ICíly can make things better for their character or their characterís friends. The General Discussion Board is a strong reflection of this, where such concepts as above listed of separation of IC and OOC are completely lost on many of the players of this game and the staff hardly does anything to help promote a better understanding of what RolePlay is. It seems as if many of the players would consider it roleplay to say 'would thou like to go train with me?' rather than 'Lets go kill some mobs.' The amount of OOC abuse on players because of Ic actions is ludicrous and no one seems to understand why it's not supposed to be that way.
To be fair, most any RP games don't even have the above problems, because roleplay never gets into the door in the first place. Therefore itís because of SK's successful implementation of Roleplay that I'm able to point out these problems.
If you're looking for a tactical hack and slash game which is both easy to learn and full of depth, then SK is a good choice.
If you're looking for a Roleplay experience for serious role players, then SK is probably not a good choice.
While it's interesting to see what direction this game will ultimately go in, for now it is a heavily tactical Hack and Slash, with a side of roleplay.
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