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Dark Age Of Camelot: Catacombs

Platform(s): Arcade, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PSOne, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Genre: Online Multiplayer

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PC Preview - 'Dark Age of Camelot: Catacombs'

by Mark Crump on May 29, 2004 @ 1:32 a.m. PDT

Genre: MMORPG
Publisher:
Developer: Mythic Entertainment
Release Date: TBA

Mythic was showing off their next retail expansion, Catacombs, at this year’s E3, and even the quick tour we got was impressive. Most of the company’s development resources are still tied up with the free expansion, New Frontiers, due out soon, but the art department has been hard at work getting their portion of Catacombs done.

Catacombs brings three new things to Dark Age of Camelot: instanced dungeons, new player and monster models, and a complete re-working of all the structure tiles in the game. Most of the demo was devoted to showing off the new player models, which were very impressive. The existing models in the game have very low poly counts and the face features are just painted on. In Catacombs, the poly count is substantially raised and the facial features are now sculpted. The fingers are now fully articulated, the models “breathe” and look a lot more realistic. The armor models are a lot better now – the shoulder plates on plate armor are more articulated and the armor itself has a lot more depth to it. The armor dye system has gotten better as well. If you dye armor in today’s game, it just looks like someone took a can of spray paint to the armor. Now, the dye will largely leave the metal portions of the armor alone, and only dye the webbing underneath.

There will also be a new underground city in each Realm for players to explore, based on one of that realm’s subterranean races. These cities will also lead to the new dungeons. A lot of the design work hasn’t been nailed down yet – i.e. how long the instance will last, what will be instanced, and little things like the whole story behind the instancing.

As I mentioned earlier, all the building “tiles” in the game are getting a makeover in Catacombs. Now, I’ve long thought the building sets in Camelot have stood up well against the test of time – in fact the only gripe I have with Camelot’s graphics is the player models. Seeing the new building tiles in Catacombs changed that mindset. For instance, the ever-present tents in Midgard look more like, well, tents as opposed to a lean-to. That means the existing dungeons are getting some love as well, although I’d imagine since the new tile sets come with the expansion you won’t see the layout change unless that’s part of a free patch. They took me on a tour of my old stomping grounds, the Coruscating Mines, and if they didn’t tell me that was CM I wouldn’t have recognized it. Showing off the dungeon also gave them an excuse to demo the new monster models, which are as impressive as the player models. In CM, there are little blue spiders that look about as threatening as a daddy long legs. In Catacombs, a gigantic, dark spider whose joints glow in the dark replaces the blue wannabe; it looks quite realistic and frightening.

I think Dark Age of Camelot is one of the finest MMOGs on the market right now – it’s the MMOG I choose to play when I actually get around to playing games for fun – and Catacombs looks like an exciting addition to the series. With a free expansion, New Frontiers, and Catacombs on the plate for Mythic this year, there’s a lot of great content and additions to the game in the very near future. The MMOG space is going to get quite crowded with EQ2 and World of WarCraft on the horizon, but Mythic looks like it’s rising up to the challenge and will do quite well.


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