When does a martial arts experience become exactly what you’d expect from an MMO?
There’ve been a number of claims to back this theory up and here at MMOABC.com we’ve had our fair share of these arrive at our news desk. Needless to say, we wanted to go about evaluating this highly talked-about subject and decided what better place to start than the birth place of martial arts itself, China.
In our search for MMO titles that depict these claims, we came across one of China’s most popular and supposedly ‘leading’ titles, Tian Long Ba Bu. Yes we thought it was a bit of a mouthful too at first, but diving deeper into the game made us realize that Tian Long Ba Bu (or TLBB) has more historical substance than meets the eye.
After much ‘book-worming’, it turns out TLBB is based on an original title (by the same name) written by a well known Chinese novelist called Louis Cha. The publishers, ChangYou.com, managed to acquire the rights to publish the game and, from reports, are now nestled amongst the top 5 game publishers in the whole of China.
Whether or not you’re a martial arts film fan, most of you will appreciate the popularity of these movies in Hollywood and around the world… Tian Long Ba Bu is not only a book and a game, but was also produced for the silver screen and is nationally recognised by the Chinese population, along with the hit TV series, as one of China’s most watched movies.
What’s more, the collection of game titles under the ChangYou banner has peaked to a massive 875,000 users online… Figures that would undoubtedly rival those of any leading MMO out there!
Now much of this might not be useful to you, but we’re close to certain that the majority of you would’ve had facts/figures, adverts and articles shoved in your faces when reading about the latest MMOs around. That said, when you’re looking for a genuine martial arts experience, it helps to know these things.
Onto the game-play.
Taking everything into account, it’s easy just to walk into the game and expect great things. I mean why wouldn’t you? After everything we’ve just mentioned, ChangYou.com would certainly come out with a top MMO game, right?
We didn’t think we’d be as impressed with TLBB at first. After all, there are strong games out there with a tight grip on the western market and here we have a Chinese MMO launching into an already overpopulated, well established MMO circle.
However, the game is immersive, playable and action-packed in a world of Chinese adventure. And that’s before even establishing how genuinely ‘martial-arts orientated’ it is.
With 9 unique classes to choose from, players have very well-designed fighting styles available to them after the 10th level. We chose a number of them including the traditional ‘Shaolin style’ of martial arts.
After gaining hard earned experience throughout their quests and instances and enduring in-game events such as the Chess Challenge and World Competition, our little Shaolin man showed us just what he was capable of, and boy was it fun to watch.
The colours schemes of the game are bright, effective and original, just what you would expect from Chinese game developers. The cities are accurately portrayed from what we’ve seen and the characters look like something out of ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Kung Fu Masters’.
As a free-to-play MMO that offers ongoing in-game events each week, TLBB does of course employ a fictional aspect like most other games. Yes the characters deploy a somewhat “magical” side to their martial arts and yes the enemies don’t all have impressive white goatees that are past the age of 65, but when you take TLBB for its genuine all-round approach, it brings a sharp tip to an already growing martial arts MMO sword.