Thursday, August 23, 2007

RAN Online

The Omen began 18 years ago. A terrifying solar eclipse engulfed the skies above Asia. From this gaping darkness, a vicious torrent of meteors hurtled down, leaving a wake of smoldering rubble and scorched earth. Chaos and paranoia swept over Asia, forcing the rest of the world to quarantine the continent, an island onto itself.

Two years later, from this apocalyptic wreckage, a clandestine organization known only as the Sacred Financial Group ascended to power, shrouded in myth and mystery, brimming with untold wealth and influence. The Group would found four schools, each one unique in its own way: Sacred Gate, Mystic Peak, Phoenix, and Leonair Campus. Only the smartest, strongest, fittest students were recruited to these institutions.

Yet beneath its quiet fa├žade of learning and academia, an unsettling truth began to surface. These were no ordinary schools. Their infrastructures, rising menacingly above all others, were strange and alien in design, as if echoing an ominous, inescapable fate.Suspicion grew. Where these sports institutions meant to breed a new generation of genetically-enhanced athletes? Where they military centers meant to recruit and train bio-engineered soldiers?
Soon, rumors began to spread about the alarming activities conducted within the four campuses. Students, they said, were being trained in cryptic, deadly forms of combat beyond the understanding of even the military’s most accomplished intelligence agencies; they were studying forbidden scrolls and texts believed to hold incomprehensible, supernatural power—power to create as well as destroy; and being taught the use of weapons exiled long ago for their genocidal role in the Ancient Wars.

The question was: Why? Why train these students in such brutal arts? The answer would arrive with startling implications. A dimensional riff some attribute to the meteor storm had opened the gates to a demonic realm, poisoning the living and possessing the dead. Only the four schools proved immune to this paranormal plague. Force shields were believed to protect the boundaries of the four schools and its students, keeping them safe within the schools’ borders. The shields, however, were beginning to show signs of weakness. There were reports of creatures infiltrating school grounds and of students being taken almost daily, never to be seen again.It was only a matter of time…Leonair in the East was the first of the four to fall, its entire student populace devoured seemingly overnight, the campus left a graveyard of memory. Of those who have attempted to brave the haunted campus grounds of Leonair since, few have returned, and those that have, speke tremulously of a presence so dark, so evil, it would in time, come to destroy all mankind.

So many questions remain unanswered. What caused the meteor shower? From what dimension did this supernatural evil originate from? How did the Sacred Financial Group know of the storm’s destructive, malevolent power?

Today, everything is calm and peaceful at the three schools, even as they wonder which of them is next.When will their time come? How long will their shields hold? For now, the students continue their studies. Waiting. Training. Praying.**

Wasn't that cool? I just love that introduction.

RAN Online is a massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) locally released here in the Philippines by E-Games. Players can choose from four different characters - an archer, brawler, shaman, and swordsman - all with different builds and a different set of skills for each build. Each episode of RAN Online brings new maps, monsters, and skills that players can acquire once the necessary level/stat points are met. One can stick to a pure build, or you also have the option of becoming a hybrid.

Even before when Diablo was the hottest game around, I loved playing role-playing games on my pc, particulary those with a third-person view (I never liked Counter Strike or Doom, sorry). I also particularly liked being able to dress up my chosen character and being able to equip her (i always choose female characters) with different weapons. The graphics of the game is something I also look for - not that full 3D graphics really mean a lot - but the game should have a certain "it" factor that would make me want to play it again. The sound effects used in the game should be pleasantly nice - not distracting you from the game, but not too nice to the point that you'd end up just listening to the music. If you're tired of levelling with your party, you can also perform various quests with different rewards like a new skill, a set of clothes, access to a certain map, or even be rewarded with upgrading items you can use to add defense to your clothes/armor, or increase the attack power of your weapon.

Which is why I just love RAN Online. I find the concept that your character is a student, learning to use different weapons and skills appealling. I also like the fact the campuses are beautifully created and each have their own unique look, including non-player characters (NPCs) named after real people you see in school such as the Student Director, the Nurse, the Technical Teacher, the Physics Teacher, the Janitor, etc. Once you go outside the campus, that's where the real fun begins. You and your party can level up in construction sites, the fallen Leonine campus, the Trading Hole, the Wharf Passage, the Hang Out (more popularly known as HO), and other maps each with a different set of mobs.

Improvements such as your choice of a male archer, a male shaman, a female brawler and a sword-yielding female would be great, since at the moment archers and shamans are limited to being female, and brawlers and swordsmen are only male. The introduction of new characters such as a male/female gunner would also be great. But all in all, RAN Online is a great game to play just as it is. Best of all, it's free to play.

The archer at the far left is my character, a dex type archer stuck at level 111. The swordsman in the middle is my husband's, and the one at the far left is our guild leader Chas.

Still my archer with my +7 refined horn bow. I accidentally sold that darn bow really, really cheap instead of the millions it's really worth. *sigh*


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