Ever thought Valve’s Team Fortress 2 has too much cartoonish violence for your palette? Call Of Duty douche bags calling you horrible names ? Tired of seeking out enemies to kill in Planetside 2? Pearl Digital Entertainment’s newest entry in the MMO shooter market “Avatar Star” might just be right up your alley. Avatar Star may look like any run of the mill MMO targeted at the Asian market with its stereotypical cutesy character and map design but underneath it all lies the raw essence of this game, a competitive twitch based Third Person Shooter where only the skilled would survive. An exclusive Alpha build of the game was shown at License 2 Play. Any information about the game was so tight-lipped that no Youtube clips of this game can be found according to the CEO of Cherry Credits Addison Kang.
The game starts out like any ordinary MMO, you log in to an account and start the character creation process. I was given the choice between 3 classes, the Gunner, Guardian or the Assassin. At first glance, each class seemed like the stereotypical MMO archetype trinity of the Warrior, Cleric and Rogue but I was told gamers would be able to optimize each character to their individual playstyles by customizing which skill you bring into each match. The Rocker/Gunner is your stereotypical frontline soldier, armed to the teeth with rocket launchers, machine guns and a series of defensive skills to ensure the team’s battlefield survivability. The Guardian will be your guardian angel in the heat of battle with his plethora of healing abilities but don’t think for a moment that he couldn’t hold his own against his foes; the Guardian is armed with both an assault rifle and a bow that is lethal against even the most heavily armored of foes. Last but not least, the Assassin/Hunter is what you get when you cross the Sniper and Spy class from Team Fortress 2 into one single character class; not only are you able to take out enemies from afar with your deadly sniper rifle, you could sneak up and get up close and personal by using his “cloak” ability.
I chose the Hunter/Assassin class and got into the character creation screen where I told to give my Hunter a name(1-10 characters only) so as the Mass Effect fan that I am, I named my character “CmdShepard”. There is several basic hair options available but unfortunately, all of them are your clichéd MMO hair options; K-Pop looking hair or spiky Japanese Anime looking hair. Luckily the clothing and accessories or trinkets as they are called here, options are much more diverse; you got your SWAT team looking armor set to your “covert ops” sneaking suit ala Sam Fisher(I was assured that the different sets of clothing is purely cosmetic, there would be no gameplay ramifications). A concise introduction and overview of your class’s basic weapons and abilities in the character creation menu lets you know exactly what you are getting into before you actually commit to the character.
After I’ve selected my K-Pop Sam Fisher, I was dropped into a simple tutorial to teach me about the basic controls of the game i.e basic movement and combat etc. Before I was able to play a single match, my attention was brought to the Avatar customization screen, that’s where my mind was BLOWN by the sheer level of customizations for my character, every single minute detail of my avatar can be customized, heck you can even choose the shape of your character’s eyes. The thing that caught my eye was the various nods to geek culture in the customization of your avatar( there is even an Ultraman helmet you could wear). The coup de grâce is the Tattoo editor which is as detailed and deep as the Vinyl editor in racing games like Forza Horizon.
After giving my avatar with a pair of killer looking shades, I am ready to get into the meat of the game.
The pre-game menu would feel familiar to players of Online Shooters i.e Blackshot and Combat Arms, player would start by joining an open “room” with other players. The “host” player would select the game mode, map etc based on suggestions and discussions by the players in the room (or he can be an ass and just select whichever mode and map he likes). When everyone’s ready, the “host” would start the match.
The Game mode that I played was a variant of Capture The Flag, the objective is simple; score the most points at the end of the match or attain a pre-determined number of points. Points are awarded when a player brings the “Treasure box” from the middle of the map to their spawn point. The game starts by dropping you at your team’s end of the map and from there, it didn’t take long for me to find my first enemy target, I drew my sniper rifle and BAM…Headshot(to be honest, the characters in Avatar Star tend to have larger heads so it’s easier to land a headshot)! I quickly mustered up whatever I have learnt in my adolescence playing Counter Strike and reacquired another sad victim but before I would pull the trigger; I was hit by a barrage of explosive arrows from a Guardian from the opposing team who managed to sneak pass all my team mates and got to my vantage point. I quickly respawned and this time I activated my cloaking ability and got up close and personal with my enemy by means of a trusty chainsaw! My team slowly pushed towards the center of the map where the “treasure box” is located, each class supported each other during push. The Guardian dropped healing turrets in chokepoints, the Rocker/Gunner took down enemies with relative ease and finally the Hunter/Assassin took out threats from afar. I ran towards the “treasure box”, took it and immediately made a beeline towards the spawn point with my team mates covering me from enemy Hunter/Assassins. After a intense minute of running in zigzag patterns, I managed to get the treasure box into out spawn point and we actually won the round(The game timer ran out and we were the only team to score any points).
Avatar Star might be a cutesy looking game targeted at the younger audience but in its very core lies a intense twitch based shooter that would delight even the most hardcore of shooter fans. The game is currently in development however gamers who signed up for a Cherry Credits account would receive an invite to Avatar Star’s closed beta test in Q2 2013.
For more information about Avatar Star, visit http://as.cherrycredits.com
Screen shots courtesy of Cherry Credits
By Chen KangYi
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