Dark Age of Camelot: Shrouded Isles

Dark Age of Camelot: Shrouded Isles

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 12/23/2002 for PC  

I’m not a big fan of MMORPGs but for some strange reason, Mythic Entertainment’s Dark Age of Camelot has always been able to grasp my attention. Instead of offering the same cut and dry experience as EverQuest, DAoC did an admirable job of redefining the genre and introducing new flavors to help cleanse my palette. Being that the recently released Shrouded Isles does even more to refine and more importantly, redefine the game how could one not help but be impressed by what it has to offer?

Let’s see how Shrouded Isles stacks up against the expansion pack checklist: new character races? Check. New character classes? Check. New visuals? Check. New locales? Check. Hundreds of hours of new gameplay? Check that too. In a nutshell, Shrouded Isles is an impressive add-on that will cater to both hardcore fans and newbies alike.

Let’s skip discussing what the base material is about because if you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure that you’re well aware of what DAoC brought to the table. Let’s instead focus on the new aspects that you’ll be able to enjoy. First and foremost is the introduction of three entire new and unique realms. All three of them have very specific themes and within them, allow for the usage of various player classes. Travel between the realms is possible but for the time being you have to resort to sticking within your own realm until you’re powerful enough to venture outward. When you become powerful enough you can head into the opposing realms and steal their relics that, as you soon find out, are essential to making your player even more powerful.

What makes this mode of play distinctly different that of say Ultima Online or EverQuest is that player killing is actually a necessary part of the gameplay. Since the other realms are populated by human players they’ll be the focus of your combat, not AI controlled NPCs. This offers the gamer a much more diversified experience that simply cannot be offered by any of the other competing MMORPGs. To prevent bickering amongst players, communication between realms is impossible, putting much of the fighting to a halt.

I found this to be the most enjoyable of the modes as you can fight alongside your friends in an effort to vanquish the opposition. Divvying up the goods, however, is an entirely different story…

In case human to human violence just isn’t your style, Mythic had the foresight to create servers that promote harmony amongst players. PK (playing killing) is removed entirely and the three realms live together in harmony. Instead of trying to destroy the opposition, you’ll instead be encouraged to work alongside them in completing the game’s many quests and build up your character.
Then again, that’s just it, the main addiction, the character building aspect, returns in full force and is as attractive as ever. It’s got that “just one more level feel to it” as you’ll continually want to build up your persona. Sure you may start out your sessions with a very low goal but as the hours go by (trust me, I said hours) you’ll find yourself not wanting to put the game down, it’s just that damn good.

What really makes Shrouded Isles so great is the entire environment, the already existing fanbase is quite helpful and the majority of the players are quick to take newbies under their wings. While as a stark contrast, I found that many EQ players were quick to shun the newer players and basically took advantage of their ineptitude. It’s like I always say, it’s the people that make this game worth playing and the people who populate this massive world are some of the best that you’ll ever encounter.

There are quite a few improvements that have come in the way of visuals, many of which seem to make the game run quite a bit smoother, especially on the lower end systems. While the player models, including the new ones, are still a bit sub-par, the environments have really received a boost. Nice lighting effects and bump-mapped water surfaces are the order of the day here. While it’s not going to blow you away, it’s definitely up to par with what the best of the MMORPG genre has to offer.

Of course you’re not playing the game to look at it, you want substance and this is what the entire Shrouded Isles expansion pack is about. New classes, new quests, and a boatload of new gameplay. If you’re on the line as to whether or not you delve into this game keep in mind that it’s probably the most addictive and well-designed MMORPGs of the bunch, and while it may not have as many players as EQ or UO, it shouldn’t be overlooked. Of course if you already own the base game I have no doubts that you’re already a proud owner of this expansion.
An excellent expansion pack that does well to enhance you’re gaming experience. Simply put, if you own this game you simply must get the expansion, it’s that damn good.

Rating: 8.7 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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