Tabula Rasa is the sci-fi MMO developed by Destination Games and published by NCsoft. It launched close to two months ago on November 2nd and I've been playing it daily since the Pre-Order Head Start in October. That's part of the reason why it's taken me a bit to write this review.
Developed by Destination Games / Published by NCsoft
Article by JR Sutich
I had already gotten to Level 5 when I wrote my preview. I did get out of Wilderness before the game officially launched and cloned my character at 15, splitting between Ranger and Commando. I played my Ranger through to 29 and started seeing problems with the game. Small things that when added up together really became annoying and frustrating. Things like the Targets of Opportunity quests are broken for clones created after you have completed the story missions for an area, and pre-order items are not available for clones. Not a big deal really, so I pressed on, continuing on the way to Spy.
It was around Level 23 or 24 and I got my first real taste of the frustration I would be feeling. I was in a team and we were running through an instance and one of the mission objectives was to find what was making the Atta in this cave become agitated. There was not a big yellow circle on the map which is something that is out of the ordinary. Without a clear direction, we started running around and exploring and one of the team jumped off of a bridge and managed to find a way to the area we thought the source of the agitation might be. We didn't know how right we were until we got there and triggered a mission event that was a few steps ahead of the mission we were actually on. We then went back, found the mission objective, advanced the mission and eventually were told to go check on the Queen Atta. Sadly, since we had run ahead to the Queen Atta earlier, the event did not trigger again and we could not complete the mission. This was three hours wasted.
Life after 30 was pure awesomesauce as a Spy though. One and two-shot killing every thing I saw was great. This was a good thing because I hit so many bugged and broken missions that I needed to be able to kill things in 5-10 seconds if I was going to be able to continue leveling at a pace just a little faster than Lineage II's XP curve. The game has gotten many patches that have alleviated some of the frustration, but there are still enough problems that after hitting Level 40, I have shelved my character and am waiting for the Personal Armor Units to get patched in.
I did have a great deal of fun playing Tabula Rasa but it was frustrating to see so much of the game unfinished or non-functional. Here's the detailed run-down.
Tabula Rasa's graphic quality is superb on settings of High and above. Unfortunately, if you don't have a video card with at least 256 MB of RAM you will be forced to use the lower settings and the disparity in quality is very noticeable. There are a number of details that really made me stop and take notice. Weapon particle effects, logos skill animations and the AFS bases really stand out as things that have a definite cool factor. The game really does beautiful landscapes, but you will have to search for them in a bevy of lava and mud.
The sound in this game is amazing. I actually left the music on, and for me that is a rarity. Audio in Tabula Rasa is used effectively to make it necessary to listen in order to maintain situational awareness. Several times while I was running around the battlefield I actually had chills when I heard a Bane Dropship coming in behind me. The screech of a Lightbender or the hissing speech of the Thrax will haunt you even when you aren't playing. Tabula Rasa does have in-game voice chat and the quality is quite good. While not absolutely necessary, voice chat does make Control Point battles and instances go much smoother.