Heroes of Three Kingdoms

5.5 Overall Score

Written by on July 26, 2010 in

Atop the hill I gaze into the distant amber sky, contemplating the meaning of existence and the vast number of evil monkeys attempting to steal my peaches. This is the land of not one kingdom, but three – and I intend to become the hero of at least one. Welcome my friends, my foes and all in between, to the world of Heroes of Three Kingdoms.

Heroes, an upcoming MMO from Perfect World Entertainment, places the familiar deck of MMO cards in the world of Chinese myth and legend.  This war-torn world is about honor, love and awesome weaponry. We were lucky enough to get an early glimpse at this game, still in beta, to bring you – our favorite readers (even the one with the shifty eyes) – a glimpse at what your future adventures will hold.

All fellow World of Warcraft players (all eight hundred bazillion of you) will find the interface and gameplay style incredibly familiar. WoW introduced a winning design for an MMO interface, and Kingdoms does not make any effort to redesign what already is proven to be a winning strategy. Everything is exactly where you would expect it to be, and all the hot keys are exactly what you think they would be. In general, the gameplay pretty much is just World of Warcraft, only in a lackluster Chinese setting.

Now, I realize the game is still in beta. It has many of the still-in-production traits that I have become quite familiar with. However, there is one glaring item that I rub my genie lamp and wish changes before release – and that’s the rather plain environments. There are some rather attractive features in these environments, however these features are… sparse. In some spots it’s almost like traveling a Chinese wasteland – one gorgeous tree, then nothing for a quarter mile. Some of the texture choices also could have used some rethinking, as the artists have relayed on solid textures for simple meshes such as stairs rather than having the real model in place. Again, the game is still in beta, so much of this could just be placeholder assets until the final versions are completed.

The concept art to Heroes is gorgeous – unfortunately the artists have not faithfully translated this to the game.

Like any MMO, you are given the choice from a variety of character options when starting the game. You are able to choose your city of origin within China, along with your combat weapon. Choosing your weapon determines what kind of a character you will play as, and Heroes does not disappoint in its selections. You can be a heavy-handed wielder of the Mace, fast and agile with bladed Talons, slow but strong with powerful Gauntlets, channel energies through the Scepter, dance a healing step with fans as the Charmer or go long and snipe out your foes with the Bow. Also available will be the Hammer, Ring Blade and War Fan, however none of these were yet available in the beta at the time that I played. As I tend to enjoy fast and stealthy classes in MMOs, I went with the Talons.

The game also offers a decent number of facial hair, face type and body selections – however it’s worth pointing out that there is no obese options. I guess everyone in ancient China were in better shape than most athletes. The interfaces for these are also a little lacking as they do not keep a standard. The Face selector opens a separate window which visibly displays the options, while the Hair selector just has left/right arrows to switch between the options. I find I personally prefer the selection window, and wish this standard had been kept throughout the features.

At last, off I am to begin my journey as LingLong, wielder of the Talons and lover of women long time. LingLong is actually my second character, and I was a little disappointed to find that the scenery to the selected town looked exactly like the scenery to the town my first character started in. Either all of ancient China looked identical or the artists needed more to do. Upon further play, I realized that this actually was the exact same place I started in, so apparently choosing your home town does not (currently?) have any affect upon what happens. Though there is an over abundance of cherry blossom trees and evil monkeys.

Yes… no matter where you appear to start in this game, you will be assaulted by the one creature that God made to slowly engulf and destroy all mankind – the Monkey. And when I say there are a lot of these damn things, I mean they are EVERYWHERE when you first begin. It’s a right-out Monkey Ocean. And boy are they angry. At first, I was confused at why a monkey would want to steal peaches I didn’t even have, but I quickly understood what he really wanted.

After dropping to the ground like a rock, I picked myself back up and continued my journey through this strange and ancient land. In general, Heroes does not offer too much of a new experience. There are Master trainers and skills and all the normal stuff you would expect. Though there is one feature this game has that I love – Auto-routing! I can double-click on a location and my character, almost as if he was more than a simple model being controlled by a lowly human – can find his own damn way around. This alone allows me to do other things while playing – like not play. Which for this game, is somewhat of a benefit.

Big fan of cutesy emoticons? Fantastic – be prepared for a FLOOD of them. Not even 10 minutes on chat and I think I saw everything they have to offer as the players love them. The choices appear to consist of tons of rabbit and octopus variations, along with other standard Asian fare.

Ok. So let’s get down to talons and brass tacks. Is this game any good? Well… sort of. The game does hold promise. With a decent amount of work, it could be a rather fun game, and could be a good competitor on the MMO market. Unfortunately with its current gameplay balance, lack of engrossing quests, generally repetitive and boring scenery and very unoriginal gameplay, there is nothing to put Heroes of Three Kingdoms ahead of any of its potential competition aside from the fact that its based on Asian history and mythology, which will instantly cause legions of fanboys / fangirls of anything to come from the East in the sights of this title. As things stand, Heroes feels like much more of a polished prototype than a game that should be anywhere near the Beta phase.

So if you want a game that really is nothing new whatsoever and as a game is generally boring however allows you to play through a strongly Asian inspired world – go grab yourself a copy of Heroes of Three Kingdoms. However, if you want a game with a lot of depth, originality and very solid gameplay, then I still have to recommend World of Warcraft. It just can’t be beat.

A beta key for the game Heroes of Three Kingdoms was provided to The Married Gamers for the purpose of examination and review. When not writing reviews and articles, Dave Calabrese runs his game development company, Cerulean Games, Inc. and enjoys the mountain air of Denver, CO.

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Author: Dave Calabrese View all posts by
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dave has always looked towards creative mediums as a way to showcase untold stories and to entertain others. From a young age, Dave would spend hours in his family's home creating home-made board games and writing stories. His father worked in the game industry, which allowed Dave the early insight on another direction he could take his creative inspirations in. He eventually found a job in the game industry, and seven years later had a stack of published games under his belt and a number of award winning titles to bulletpoint his resume with. Dave continues to pave the way to the future of the games industry by telling stories and entertaining through interactive mediums which will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you come back for more.

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