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GameAmp’s 2006 E3 MMORPG Awards

This year GameAmp waded through the plethora of MMORPG games on the horizon and singled out both titles and publishers to award a total of nine MMORPG awards. It was a tough decision in more than one category but I must say, in the end, we are very comfortable with our decisions. Everyone at E3 put forth an outstanding effort to bring to light the newest features, amazing graphics, and completely immersive gameplay. In this award review you will find a quick look at some of the features that set the award winning titles apart from everything else in its class. Clicking the title or by visiting THIS PAGE RIGHT HERE; you will find an in-depth, full coverage review of each MMORPG game we had a chance to see first hand at E3 2006.
Enjoy the awards & reviews and don’t forget to drop us a line in the forums with a few comments!

Best of Show

Best of Show - Warhammer Online

Best of Show this year went to Warhammer Online. If you haven’t had a chance to read anything on this game or take a look at any screenshots, you definitely need to get over to GameAmp's Warhammer Online Site and have a look. With a heavy emphasis on what they have deemed Realm vs Realm (RvR) this title has something for everyone and a few things you have never seen in any other MMORPG to date. Starting from the obvious, the graphics are stunning. There will be no doubt even from the very beginning that this is a superior quality title. The questing system feels much like WoW’s and if there’s anyone you wouldn’t mind having your game compared to, that would be the title. For all you board game Warhammer fans out there, you won’t be disappointed AT ALL. Starting with the fact that one of the very first quests involves squigs! The scaling for monsters and NPCs is true to the board game and Mythic has gone to great lengths to add some very interesting features. In an effort to keep from a runaway description check out our Full Review of Warhammer Online.

Best Loot

Best Loot - Warhammer Online

Probably the most fun award to give away; Warhammer Online picked up this second award for Best Loot. Any MMORPGer should love loot and why should we be any different? This year we scoured E3 to find the coolest drops that have the ability separate your character from the rest of the crowd. That search lead us straight to Warhammer Online. What really caught our eye was the four trinket slots available on your character. While some of these may give you standard bonuses, some of them might not give you any bonus at all! Why does this deserve an award you ask? We’ll tell you; because of what they plan to have available for those slots… How about your Orc being able to drape a human skull from his armor or a necklace of ears?! Now that is just bad ass… Add to that the drastic changes in armor through the levels and you can see how your progression through the game isn’t limited to just the zone you are in and slight changes in armor. You have the potential here to really separate yourself from everyone else through the phat loot you collect. For the full story, make sure to check out our Full Review of Warhammer Online.

Best Theme

Best Theme - Lord of the Rings Online

I first read The Hobbitt when I was in 6th grade, I immediately followed it with the Lord of the Rings series and read straight on into the Silmarillion. I have long been a fan of Tolkien and I have even reread the entire collection. When I tell you that Tolkien fans will love this game, I say so from the point of view of a Tolkein fan, not because I’m regurgitating it from marketing hype or someone else told me so. When I first entered the Turbine booth I was a little wary as to what and how a development team would treat Tolkein’s works in an MMORPG adaptation. Would they leave things out they shouldn’t? Would they add things in that would break the LotR theme? Just exactly how far was the development team willing to go to keep Tolkein’s original vision alive and would they still be able to make a game diverse enough to keep gamers interested. Well after the demo and hearing the dev team talk I can honestly say I place all my faith in Turbine to take into account every last one of my concerns. The very first sentence that was uttered from the member of the dev team I spoke with was, “our primary concern was making a completely immersive game while keeping true to Tolkein’s vision”. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you can’t ask for a better start… From that point on it was continual amazement at how much thought Turbine had placed into every aspect of the game in regards to not just the LotR series but also the Silmarillion. This is a title to be closely watched in upcoming months as they prepare for a Q3 launch. I could go on and on about more specifics but I’ll save those for the Full Review of Lord of the Rings Online.

Best Graphics

Best Graphics - Aion

The biggest surprise title of E3 was Aion. One of the up and coming NCsoft titles, this game looks absolutely astounding. Guaranteed to make all the graphics hounds out there drool on their keyboards in anticipation of seeing more from the title. The character design in this game is phenomenal and is a joint effort between a US and Korean team. The game has some of the best graphics I have ever seen in any game any where on any platform. The attention to detail in the game is even more amazing. When you attack an enemy with a weapon, you can actually see the texturing on the model change to reflect the damage! A very Very smooth touch. In addition killing mobs results in the loot flying out in little treasure chests that have real physics applied to them. They will even go bouncing down a hill to rest in a pool of water. The chests also come in different colors and details denoting just how sweet the loot you’re about to pick up is. The modeling and texturing in this game shows a very advanced understanding of what appeals to a world wide market. Very in-depth monsters which ooze detail from every pore down to their death sequences. There was no doubt that Aion would win Best Graphics from the very first moment we laid eyes on the monitors; from color palette to terrain design the Aion design team is definitely comprised of some of the most skilled artists to be found in the world. Aion isn’t just all graphics though; check out the the Full Review of Aion to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes…

Best Booth

Best Booth - NCsoft

This year NCsoft came out big again with a phenomenal booth. Live music and performances graced the huge stage which served to backlight NCsoft’s presence. A nice touch and the performances were nicely schedule to allow for plenty of breaks to talk with the huge amount of developers they had on hand. Sure there were plenty of other booths that offered stages with shows going on but that’s not the real reason we dropped this award into NCsoft’s hands. What impressed us the most was the fact that there were SIX playable demos inside the booth. That is EPIC; tons of stations littered the booth for each game with many developers walking around to answer all your questions. That is exactly what we wanted to see from a booth. Complete immersion into a single company’s brand. We found ourselves constantly returning to the NCsoft booth whenever we could. With so many demos to play we could have easily sat down on Wednesday stayed till we left on Friday and felt like we got our times worth out of E3. Huge props to NCsoft for putting together such a stellar booth!

Best PvP

Best PvP - Guild Wars

Another award picked up by NCSoft this year for an outstanding job creating a game with, what we felt, is the best PvP experience out there. If you haven’t had a chance to play Guildwars Factions yet, you’ll want to check it out. The Factions expansion (which also functions as a completely separate game if you’d like) was definitely focused on the PvP aspect of Guildwars. New Missions, a huge map, monsters, and many more new things also popped up in Guildwars Factions but the main focus was on the two warring factions; the Kurzicks and the Luxons. As a player you may earn faction points to align yourself with one faction or another through both running missions and participating in Faction vs Faction (FvF) battles. Guildwars Factions also opened up a slew of new PvP type missions that a ton of fun to participate in and really work towards training you in how to play your profession efficiently. All in all, the creativity that was put into Guildwars Factions shines above all the rest when it comes to PvP. If you’d like to read more on what Guildwars Factions has to offer, drop by our Guildwars Factions GameAmp Site and browse our extensive forums and game database.

Best Sound

Best Sound - Tabula Rasa

The fourth and final award that NCsoft took home this year; Tabula Rasa deserves additional credit for being one of the most fun MMOs we have ever played. This game is non stop action. There is never a dull moment when drop ships are constantly flying in beaming down groups of mobs that you’ll have to blast through. When playing this demo you were able to sit down at a station and put on some nice high quality headphones. They then had voice chat enabled so that you could talk to a GM or Dev that would walk you through the demo. The first time you walk into a combat zone however, any semblance of control you thought you had is temporarily washed away into oblivion. Mobs running everywhere, incoming fire, ships flying overhead, it becomes absolute warlike mayhem. Once you gain your bearings things quickly start to make sense and the intuitive nature of the game takes hold. Soon you’re strafing through the trees blasting your way through tons of enemies to complete your objectives. This game has come a VERY long way since its last appearance at E3 and all the work has paid off creating what is sure to be a very addictive game for anyone that even casually plays FPS games. Of course all the while, gunfire, lasers, yelling, and explosions are going off in every direction creating a stream of audio that sucks you right into the battlefield. Congratulations to the Tabula Rasa team for creating an original title! If you’d like to read more on Tabula Rasa, make sure to check out our Full Tabula Rasa Review.

Most Original

Most Original - Hero's Journey

A game which has been in development for quite a while, Simutronics has had time to experiment with and refine a ton of new features never before seen. This game has the single most creative team in regards to coming up with new ways of experiencing an MMORPG. I always appreciate new functionality and new styles of Gameplay and Hero’s Journey completely floored me. If I were to start playing this game tomorrow, I would feel like I was playing my first MMO. Almost every way of doing everything is completely different from what you’ve seen in the past. It is quite obvious that Simutronics started from a blank slate and is working to completely revolutionize the way many things are done within an MMO. In a time where companies are striving to be just like the most popular but slightly different enough to draw a crowd, Simutronics is singing a completely different tune. They are building a game which focused on strategy and originality. One of the smallest new features but which left a huge impact on us was the AoE system. Instead of just dropping an AoE on a specific mob or targeting the ground, you can actually click and drag to draw the circumference for the AoE. Draw a smaller circle and the damage will be concentrated into confined area. Draw a larger circle and spread the damage out over many mobs. Want to build a wall of fire? Draw the line exactly where you want it to lay down some crowd control. While this may seem like a simple thing imagine the possibilities for effecting gameplay... Then trust us when we say this is one of the smallest changes in the game when compared to other MMOs. I’ll save the rest of my rambling on the surplus of originality for GameAmp's Full Hero's Journey Review!

Best Gameplay

Best Gameplay - Gods and Heroes

A surprise attack, a tactic of considerable power! Gods & Heroes flew out of nowhere to broadside us straight upside the head. And it was most appreciated! So much of a change of pace that when we first paced by the monitors displaying this game we thought it was a console title. The interaction between character and enemy models in this game makes you think console right off the bat. In this game, if you use a skill such as “Hamstring” you will actually slash your opponent’s hamstring. Some of the skills will have you slamming your opponent to the ground, jumping up in the air, and driving your blade straight through your opponent’s chest while he’s laying stunned. How cool is that?! On top of the model interactions you’ll also find the ability to have minions. These aren’t the semi-retarded minions we’re used to in games either. You can define exactly how each minion reacts (there is a good selection of types of minions) when faced with a certain situation and you can even customize the formation of your minions. Not just by choosing between a few prebuilt selections but you can create your own formations as well by placing each minion into a specific location on a grid. It’s features like these which landed Perpetual Entertainment’s Gods & Heroes the Best Gameplay award. We highly suggest you read the Full Review on Gods & Heroes to find out about all the other features Perpetual has in store for you. This is a highly anticipated MMO for GameAmp and we definitely recommend you pay close attention to this one as it enters the Beta Phase!
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