|Platform: Windows® 95/98/00/ME/XP||Publisher: Vivendi Universal Games|
|Genre: Multiplayer Online RPG||Developer: Mythic Entertainment||Format: CD-ROM||Expected Release: Winter 2002|
When Dark Age of Camelot was released in October 2001, few suspected the game would receive enough praise to amass the tremendous audience it enjoys today. Mythic Entertainment’s medieval MMORPG would become a serious contender for EverQuest’s online throne. After almost a year, Dark Age of Camelot will be receiving its first expansion with Shrouded Isles, promising an increase in graphical performance and gameplay depth over its predecessor.
Shrouded Isles will include a significant update to Dark Age of Camelot’s already attractive 3D visuals. By using DirectX 8.1 and a proprietary graphics engine, Mythic’s expansion will feature improved textures, mip-mapping, dynamic lighting as well as an increase in polygon count and overall frame rate. PC gamers with high-end video cards may finally get a chance to flex their muscles with Shrouded Isles. The new water animation alone is evidence of the dramatically updated graphics engine. Current subscribers will be pleased to note that these visual changes will also affect the locales present in the original game, as well as the new lands of the expansion.
Despite the eye-popping visuals, there isn’t much of a story in Shrouded Isles. Dark Age of Camelot relied heavily on individual player creativity to further along the piecemeal plot, and Shrouded Isles doesn’t appear to change that. Player guilds and organized events will undoubtedly be the center of storytelling for Shrouded Isles, but this may not be enough to attract skeptics who are new to standard MMORPG plot development.
Shrouded Isles will add three all-new continents to the original game world. The realm of Albion will now feature the lands of Avalon, an ancient center of learning that was destroyed in the wake of a true dragon and his kinsmen. The realm of Hibernia will now include the forest of HyBrasil, a wooded paradise and home of the Sylvan race. Finally, the realm of Midgard will see the appearance of the island of Aegir, once the home of the Troll Fathers of Legend. These new areas should provide plenty of adventuring territory to Dark Age of Camelot veterans who are looking for new sights. Also, each realm will receive two new player classes and a new player race. Necromancers and Reavers will now roam the lands of Albion alongside the Icconu people. Meanwhile Hibernia will be the birthplace of the dryad-like Sylvan and home to Animists and Valewalkers. The realm of Midgard will introduce players to the Cro-Magnon Valkyn as well as Bonedancers and Savages. These new races and classes will allow for more varied avatar creation and should provide enough incentive to veteran players to start new characters. The user interface will also receive some tweaking to make it easier for new players to get into the action.
Unfortunately, no information is available on the score for Shrouded Isles, though the same sound team responsible for Dark Age of Camelot is expected to reprise their roles for the expansion.
With Verant preparing the 3rd expansion to EverQuest with The Planes of Power for release this October, it comes as no surprise that Mythic is preparing an expansion to Dark Age of Camelot. Their attempt to attract new players, as well as retain their current subscribers is an admirable one, especially with a certain sci-fi MMORPG looming on the horizon. While not offering much original content outside of the typical MMORPG expansion pack, Dark Age of Camelot: Shrouded Isles may have enough visual potential to deliver another surprising blow to EverQuest’s armor, and maybe, just maybe, take a chink out of Star Wars: Galaxies’ chainmail. However the cards fall, this winter will mark another milestone for MMORPG players everywhere, as established franchises and upcoming online giants go head-to-head for your holiday dollars.
©2001 Mythic Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.