Repeatedly, developer after developer takes their swing at World of Warcraft, and so far, all of them have failed. First there was Everquest 2 (which was throttled soundly), then there was Dungeons and Dragons Online (which was pummeled with a bag of twenty-sided die), and most recently was Reality (whose utter collapse killed us all so quickly, we have yet to realize it). Next in line to take a whack at the reigning ubermensch of MMOs is Acclaim's 9Dragons (yes, that's the correct spelling), which, as an email I received earlier today announced, has just entered open, free beta.
I played this game for about two weeks back in closed beta (before Blizzard sent murlocs to my door to punch my dog until I came back to them), and it really isn't all that bad. I have issues with the interface, as it feels like it's a step back from what has become the streamlined industry standard, but the setting (stylized, ancient Kung-Fu-Land), and the various fighting styles set it apart in a nice way. The way they've set up the combat is also interesting as it eventually becomes a very close approximation of movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Of course, like chlamydia, if you're already not a fan of the whole "wire-fu" thing, you probably don't wanna pay to contract a lingering case of it.
If you're interested though, hit the jump for the full announcement email and links to a website where you can pick up the beta.
If you're a pedantic ass about details, here's the email in its entireity;
Acclaim Games is pleased to announce the start of Open Beta testing for 9Dragons, our martial arts MMORPG. After several months of Closed Beta testing, 9Dragons is now open to all players for Open Beta testing. Anyone can now become a clan disciple and train their mind, body, and spirit to become a great Kung Fu warrior of The Land.
Also, effective immediately, Acclaim will begin providing service for 9Dragons in Europe on a dedicated European server initially located in the US and soon to be moved to a location in Europe for improved access.
Acclaim’s service will also provide European players with a team of
dedicated Game Masters available for shifts in all European time zones. So, it is recommended that all European players create their characters on the European server. The American server is called "Nirvana (US)" and the European sever is called "Bardo (EU)" and you will be required to choose one upon character creation. US Players will want to stay on the "Nirvana (US)" server since the US connection to "Bardo (EU)" will not be great once the data is physically moved to Europe, and can lead to big lag times. To celebrate this announcement, Acclaim will be offering double experience points to all American and European players on Friday, Feb 9 from 12am to 11:59pm PST (GMT-8).
As promised, 9Dragons will remain free to play for all players, supported by in-game advertising and item purchasing. We feel that our advertising should be conducted with respect for the player, and should not delay your gaming experience. We were careful to insert ads only in locations where there was already a natural pause in the game. We realize that this is the only way to keep the game both free and enjoyable to our players without distraction. We hope you will agree with our implementation and look forward to hearing your feedback.
To play 9Dragons, you must first download and install the new Open Beta client available at http://9dragons.acclaim.com/downloads/9Dgame.htm. Please report any bugs and issues to the Report a Bug forum on the message boards at http://phpbb.acclaim.com/9dragons/viewforum.php?f=16. Thanks and see you in The Land of 9Dragons!
Oh yeah, and if anyone is wondering, the Wu-Tang Clan ain't nuttin' ta fuck with.