Friday, July 20, 2012

Tera Online

Tera... A new(ish) morg from En Masse in the US and Blue Hole Studios in Korea.  First the obvious stuff.  It’s fantasy genre with a more asian theme.  It uses a “standard” class system.  There are 7 races and 7 classes; humans, elves, castanics, barakas, popori, and elin with warrior, slayer, bezerker, lancer, sorcerer, mystic, and priest.  Humans, elves, and castanics (satyr-esque) are dual gender.  Barakas appear to be made of stone and are only male.  Popori are cute little animorphs with no obvious gender.  Elin have an extra set of animal ears and a tail and appear to be all 12 year old girls (more on this later).  All the avatars depicting humanoid anatomy are... umm... buxom.  Even the males are pretty.
But if you could sum up Tera in a word, it would “pretty”.  Everything in this game is beautiful.  Every character, every avatar, every landscape, every cut scene. The attention to detail is boggling.  They must have 10,000 Korean texture mappers working slave hours.
What isn’t obvious is a different combat system more akin to a first-person shooter than a morg.  There is no “target locking” and all abilities must be aimed with the reticule in the center of the screen.  Movement is WASD combined with always-on mouse look ala Halo.  Abilities are mapped to keys which does prove clumsy sometimes and especially at higher levels.  With both hands busy with movement and targeting and 15 separate abilities to fire off, combat becomes challenging, more skilled, and thus more exciting than the typical morg button mash.  For me, at least, this combat system is the WoW-killer.  I was utterly done with the fantasy morg as tired, overdone, and just plan over.  But Tera won me back with this new combat mechanic and it’s amazingly artful beauty.
The ugly... Well there is some controversy.  The female character models are nothing short of complete anime fan service--lots of upskirt shots, lots of impossible cleavage, lots of panties, lots of breast physics (jiggle).  While pleasing to the male eye, it is grossly sexist to the point where I am partially embarrassed to even admit I like the game.  Especially in light of recent gamer events regarding gender and trolls.  I am having a bit of a struggle with this.  But I do enjoy the game and while I’d like to discourage this type of gender bias, I am not yet ready to vote with my wallet yet.  But when I do find another morg that catches my eye, I have a significant bit of extra motivation to end my Tera subscription.
Added to this controversy is the Elin, a race of beings who all have the appearance of innocent young girls, but who are actually an old race of tricksters and malevolent fairies.  This is something of a traditionally asian trope which is lost on European/Western players.  They just see scantily dressed girls and instantly assume “pervert”.  Well... possibly yes.  But universally? No.  Cultures are different and they see things in different ways.  The Elin are not called human for a reason--they aren’t.  It’s a fantasy made-up creature.  I know it is quite easy to argue, “yes, but they look like girls!”  I don’t have any response other than, “my imagination is capable of suspending my disbelief.”  This ability will differ greatly across players.  But again, it will be another controversy I will be glad to leave behind when I leave the game.  PS: Yes, one of the characters I created was an Elin Priest.  Her name is Louy and “she’s” supposed to be a trucker that was thrown from our world to the Tera world by a vengeful goddess where he learns to be a better human being.  Does that make up for it?

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