Poorly coded or just stingy with funds? Todays slam.

When you go into a retail game seller, you more than likely expect to come out with something that you can get into, spend more time on than you like, and maybe gain an addiction. The last thing you want, however, is to come out with something that is more trouble than earning the money you spent on it. This just happened to me last night when I purchased a game called summoner.

Find out about my experience here as well as how I felt about this annoyance. I picked up a game called summoner last night because it appeared to be within the bounds of the expectations that my significant other and myself like to play. When we go shopping for games, we always pick up 2 copies so that we can learn it, explore it, etc, together. So, of course, we usually only pick up selections that say “supports multiplay.” This game looked intriguing. It professed mild amounts of questing along with a balance of the age old hack-and-slash that always keeps one interested when the quests lose their ferver. It also said that it supported multiplay for up to 4 people. This I found interesting as well as mildly annoying:

1) It says it supports multiplay on the outside of the box. You cannot find out that it does not support tcp/ip or ipx/spx connections until youve brought it home and opened the box to read the manual. Which renders returning the game to most retailers as not an option. Of course, what it doesnt tell you, is that when you multiplay, the quests go away. (you can find this out on their website www.thqmultiplay.net)

2) You find out that you can only connect through one server which attempts to be like battle.net, but is only a $0.10 cheap immitation with no one from their support in any of the chat forums.

3) They have a customer service line, but that only supports the possible warranty, depending on the damage to the game, and nothing more.

4) I hope you have a years supply of raid, because the ingame bugs seem worse than a cockroach epidemic. Trying to use certain simple abilities that you gain by levelling, for example, will slam you straight to the desktop before you can even blink, much less know what happened.

5) After completely installing the game, upon trying to connect to this multiplayer online community, you have to download a patch or new version update that is another 200mb installed. That is, if you dont lock up mid-download.

I have to say this for it, though. The graphics arent too awful bad for what you have to pay for it, providing you can keep your sanity while trying to make it run. Getting ahold of their so called “technical support” leaves something to be desired as well. The only way to get ahold of them is by email. Have fun getting a response.

The game itself appears to run on an engine similar to asherons call, but it has a few extra features that you dont find there.

Once youre able to get into the multiplay, you find that you can join the game, as promised, for up to 4 people. One person creates a game and chooses how many people (up to 3 others) that can join. Then the creator of the game can choose the scenario (that is neither very long, nor very difficult comparing it to most other games that are worth their weight in salt). Once the game has begun, no one else can join and it automatically throws everyone in it into a group. You have no choice in the matter. Of course, to be fair, it never said you did. If you have more than one of the same type of character in the group, you take a chance on only one of them being able to use their special abilities, so make sure that you have a well rounded party or someones going to be left out of something. (i.e. 4 josephs in one group {all summoners}, only one of them can summon, etc). Also, when grouping up with others, you expect the difficulty of the opponents to raise 2-3 times the norm. In this game, however, add a second person and the difficulty seems to go up by a factor of 10. Keep this in mind when making a full group.

From reading their online FAQ page, it becomes apparent that they were making this game originally for the ps2 and only making it available for pcs to make extra money as they had not put much thought into the pc version at the time of the posts. This explains, for me at least, why there are so many bugs in the pc version. I have not tested the ps2 version to back this up.

I may post more on it as I further test it over the next few days. (Dont think Im going to spend $80 on two copies of a game to throw it in the trash until Ive fully examined and have been able to give a piece of my mind for all of it.)

In would suggest that if you see it in the stores, you dont waste your hard earned money. On the other hand, Im an advocate of “Get it and find out for yourself.” If you do this, though, you cant say that you havent been warned.


Update – 4/14/2001


After playing the game for less than two weeks, these are the next finds:

They have patched the game twice since. For those of you who dont know what a patch program is, go to www.whatis.com (itll redirect you) and look it up.

The first patch added the multiplayer capability as well as a few other goodies. I have found that I am still unable to see the games of the other party/parties playing on the lan with me when playing on the internet option. If you play on the lan option, also, it does not add the “books” that are used as unlocks to the next levels when playing the internet version. Also, this patch seems to have changed it so that the up and coming patches are not optional to download. Now you automatically connect to the patch server and “upgrade” when new ones are available just by clicking on the multiplayer selection. The other adjustments made by this patch seem to only add more infestation and annoyance than anything else.

Now we move on to the next patch. This patch added a “fix” to the old resistances. I hope you have some patience and a huge party if you plan on playing anything other than a summoner. The new annoyance with this patch is that it made the monsters harder to hit with anything. All of the mobs have a “boss” feel to them when trying to defeat them. They offer relatively low amounts of experience for the amount of work that you now have to put into them (which, to you power gamers, can be a nuissance.) The “resistance fix” now makes it also calculate resistances to weapons which makes most forms of melee attack weak at best (unless youre a fighting npc, then rage on.)

The “technical support staff” that I emailed with the problems that I have been having still have not returned my email. This is rather assuring to those of you who may like to try the game, I know. Even on the worst of days, Ive not ever seen a support group respond so poorly as to not respond at all.

What else can I add about this game? It can add hours of enjoyment, annoyance, aggravation, and even mild violence if you like to scream.

That is enough with tonights rave. I am in the middle of watching my significant other uninstall his copy and copy my files over so that the latest patch isnt such a pain in the (you know where, its just not polite to say in public.) He feels that he has to do this to make playing more bearable. As I have mentioned earlier, patching is no longer an option when playing on the internet. He tried just uninstalling and reinstalling, but the original version does not allow multiplay and he can no longer download just the second patch. Boy! These people sure know how to make a game interesting.

Just as a final note to my rant for the day:

A friend asked me, when I told him that I was playing this game, “Is the pc version as buggy as the ps2 version?” This, in and of itself, is enough to make someone think twice. I hope this is saving you some time, energy, and money. At the very least I hope it gets you prepared for what youre in for when you buy it.

These are my experiences alone. I welcome comments from others who have played this game as well as any questions about the things that weve tried. More to come later. Well, maybe.

P.S. I have one word for you guys at THQ that may help you out for your games in the future (if this one doesnt flop for lack of it.) —- “playtesting”

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