You either loved or hated, Turbine's Asheron's Call successor, Asheron's Call 2: Fallen Kings. I was in the LOVED IT crowd. AC2 was the first MMO that captured a piece of my heart and soul. I'd dabbled in EverQuest, AC1 and Horizons. I was awaiting Middle Earth Online, which eventually became Lord of the Rings Online, with baited breath. But AC2 became my first virtual-world-home, from the day it launched until the servers went dark. It was the first time I experienced forming virtual world friendships that transitioned into my real life, in permanent and lasting ways. It was the first online game I played with my son, who'd just turned 12.
Fathers and Daughters. Mothers and Sons
I realize that my vivid memories and affection for AC2 are very tightly connected to my emotional state and circumstances in 2004. I'd been diagnosed with cancer. I'd had one operation and was awaiting the pathology report for a second opinion. It was the longest 3 weeks of my life. The swing between fear, despair, hopefulness and being in lots of pain was difficult. I felt my daughters would be "okay" if the worst came to pass. I was worried about my son, so quiet and shy. Who until he was 6 years old, didn't speak to anyone but me, his father and our youngest daughter. A child so sweet, I had to explain to him several times that he couldn't go into other people's yards on his way home from school and take their flowers to bring home to me. Oh my, he made my heart melt.
AC2 was Jaw-dropping Back in the Day
You know that scene from Gladiator, where he's walking through a grain field, thinking of his family - the one many movies have tried to replicate? That's how AC2 felt. It was visually stunning! Inspiring. And this back in the days before I purchased gaming rigs. I was playing on an old laptop with busted ass built-in speakers.
The background music was beautiful, moody and haunting. There were zones I visited a night (server time) just to listen to the music and watch the snow fall. It remains the only MMO I've played with full day/night cycles AND seasons. With the exception of final encounters in instances, Dereth was a seamless game world. I loved my Enchanter, the mass body count encounters and the crafting. I lucked up on finding a great guild, one that I would eventually follow to World of Warcraft. All hail Thistledown and Kingdom vs. Kingdom combat, my first experience fighting against other players. Yeah, I loved me some AC2.
Clearly, AC2 wasn't perfect. It released with some fatal flaws, performance chief among them. OMG the lag. Holy shit the rubberbanding. Vital supportive systems were lacking such as chat. Servers were up. Servers were down. The development team over promised and consistently under delivered. Even so, my household and our guild remained firmly entrenched.
Guess I was Destined to be a Late Blooming Gaming Geek
Turbine changed AC2 mechanics in such a way that alienated many of the AC1 players. Having only played AC1 for a couple of months prior to AC2's release, I didn't have a problem with the changes. I was so gah-gah over AC2. It prompted me to create my first blog and spew fan-fiction. I had a column on the Warcry Network's AC2 website. Like many of the fans who'd hung in there, I was heartbroken and disillusioned when the game closed. Especially, in such close proximity to have released and SOLD an expansion.
Many MMOs have come and some gone, since AC2's demise. How well can AC2 hold up by today's standards? In some aspects - graphics and seamless world, it would still make a decent showing for itself. In other aspects, it will feel old school and may only appeal to "old timers." If they can do a buy to play model such as GW2, I'd have to give it a try for old time's sake.
For now, it's beta and only available to current AC1 subscribers and the friends they invite to continue the beta testing. Would you give it a spin, if it makes it out of beta for general release?