namsdrowS – QA Review

namsdrowS – QA Review

Details

Game: Swordsman
Developer: Perfect World
Platform: Arc
Classes: 10 Martial Arts Disciplines
Open Beta Live: July 3, 2014

Pros

  • Depth and breadth of character creation and development
  • Under current server conditions, great rendering and smooth action graphics
  • Three choices for manual game play

Cons

  • Because all voicing is in Mandarin, you have to read everything in the game
  • Dashboards could be more intuitive
  • With click-to-move, my character takes a literal A-to-B route which often gets her stuck in scenery
  • Female voicing is in a baby voice which is insulting in comparison to the male voicing

Based upon the best-selling novel from famed Chinese novelist Louis Cha, Swordsman is an unforgettable martial arts MMORPG set in the world of Chinese wuxia storytelling focused on martial arts and chivalry, immersing players in a story of revenge and redemption.

Review

There are two things to be aware of while reviewing Swordsman by Perfect World:  they put an emphasis on authenticity and they originally developed the game for the Chinese market.

With over 80 million players in its native China and the winner of the Gold Plume Award (considered the Oscars of China!), we are thrilled to be bringing Swordsman to players in North America and Europe.

Swordsman is entirely voiced in Mandarin, with localized subtitles, retaining an authentic story experience for players around the world.

Gamers will love the authenticity, but the fact that Swordsman was developed for the Chinese market first is behind a lot of the marks I have against the current beta.

Representation of the Sexes

Users have the choice of playing male or female characters. There’s a man’s only and a woman’s only character class but that just gives the user another level of control in building their characters. It’s a nice touch.

All the characters start off with a basic costume which is designed equitably between the male and female character. It would’ve been helpful to see a skimpier outfit when building my avatars’ body because I couldn’t actually see adjustments I made to parts like thighs and biceps, but, I appreciate that the sexes were treated equally in costume.

At level ten my character, AmyJet of the Five Venoms, received her first bonus costume. It has cleavage, midriff, and leg exposure and I love it. It is tasteful, elegant, and fun. Skin does not equal objectification.

There’s really only one sex specific issue I have but it’s big.

The male voices are deep and obviously past puberty, but the voicing for female characters is a high-pitched, baby voice. She sounds silly and whiney, and I absolutely hate it. It makes me feel inferior and silly as a female swordsman. More detail has to be paid when transferring products to a new culture besides running the language through Google translate.

Gameplay

Swordsman-Start-Character

The character creation process is great. Your choices include the size of waists, thighs, forearms… i.e. lots of detail. The only complaints I have about avatar creation: there’s no choice for eye color and there are no short haircuts for the women.

Within an hour I had customized three avatars, RikiTiki, AmyJet, and ValSimm, based on the disciplines I wanted them to have: Shaolin, Five Venoms, and E’mei. The ten schools of discipline to choose from are diverse and multifaceted.

Swordsman-Servers

So far, the game play graphics rendering has been smooth in the hours after 6:00 p.m. EST playing in full screen. Today I played some between 3 – 5:00 p.m. in Windows mode and there was some drag and jumpiness. The video was slightly out of sync from the audio. I’ve experienced this before in Windows mode with other games. Also, there are currently only three English language servers that always appear full.

Swordsman-Control-scheme

The highly customizable game control scheme is impressive. Playing with the keyboard has always been a challenge for me so being able to finesse the controls makes playing more enjoyable.

Swordsman-Char-board-Dye

The real estate of the playing screen is well maximized and everything is there when you need it. That being said, the GUI (graphical user interface) could be more intuitive. When you develop a game with the level of complexity and user control like Swordsman, the challenge is a balance between real estate, intuition, and control. I’m also seeing a lot of icons on the screen and I don’t know what they mean.

The entire game is voiced in Mandarin. At first I didn’t think this would be a problem and I really don’t think that it should have been. When I’m navigating a complex graphics environment AND have to read all the dialogue, I’m going to miss something. Turns out, I’m missing a lot. After passing level ten I noticed I wasn’t as engaged in the story because I couldn’t keep up with what was going on. Text would flash on the screen and be gone before I could read it. Lots of characters, locations, and schools are introduced in this phase and it all became a little senseless.

Swordsman-Dialogue-right-to-left

In the cut scene where you get the Lone Swordsman’s Principles, English text appears on the screen in a fade from right-to-left. That’s nice and authentic—if you’re reading Mandarin. When the left side of the text finally appeared, where you start reading English, the cut scene goes away before I can read it. This has to be changed for the English market.

Swordsman-click-move-mote-wall

With a click-to-move control scheme you click with the left mouse button on the location you want your character to move to. I found it hilarious (and frustrating) when I clicked to move ValSimm to the other side of a bridge and, instead, she walked into the water. The developers gave me the ability to swim in a moat if I want to but my click location was not in the water, it was on land.

Swordsman-Punctuation-03

Punctuation, spacing, and alignment of text are big issues. The quest dialogues are overrun with dangling, missing, and crooked copy. My s.w.a.g.? It’s the result of an outsourced translation effort which turned out to need a lot of tedious clean-up.

Summary

I’d gladly be a part of the QA team for Swordsman for the mere fact that it would keep me in work for a very long time but, as a gamer, this game is out in beta way too soon and needs tons of work.

Rhonda has a BS in Mathematics and Computer Science and is a self-taught graphic designer. She considers herself a geek*wildcard because she has a little bit of experience in everything.

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