3rd Annual SOE Block Party

It's a little late but I'm still recovering from a night of comics, games and tasty beverages. Some of the Zam team attended Sony Online Entertainments block party that they've been holding annually during comic-con for three years now. Ryan "Draknorr" Bohmann and I arrived fashionably late after the first couple of buses of fans had arrived from Comic-con. The SOE band was already playing, the food was hot and tasty and the beer was icy cold and ready to serve - it was a beautiful, cool summer day in San Diego.

We met with the Free Realms team to take a look at the game and let me just say: I was definitely impressed with how far along its come. Free Realms is a casual MMO designed for a very broad range of players. We were shown several different areas that were actually designed for specific demographics. The game looks amazing but will require less system resources than World of Warcraft. While there are things I personally don't like about it because of my affinity for hardcore gaming, this game will have plenty to offer children, families, and casual or new gamers. It was great to see it in action; I look forward to seeing it again at Fanfaire in August.

After we were done checking out Free Realms the DC Universe Online line tour caught our attention. While we had played it several times throughout the week on the Comic-con floor, it was too noisy to really enjoy. During the tour we watched a short gameplay video and then there were two machines available for play. Every time I play DCUO I enjoy it a little bit more. The game looks amazing and there is nothing boring about the gameplay, which can be described as constant action along the lines of a button masher console game combined with a strategic MMO.

Despite its projected 2010 launch, the game already looks very polished and ready to play. We were actually told several times that there were people on the Comic-con floor asking where they could buy it and how long had it been on the market. Our biggest concern was the camera movement / angles and the possibility that they'd be releasing a product that wasn't ready and "rushed" out the door. It was made very clear however that there is no way that this game will launch until it's 100% ready.

The battle raged on inside the DC Universe but we had another agenda: we we're foaming at the mouth to see The Agency. Unfortunately the line was incredibly long but we endured and made our way inside yet another building to get our first look. The tour was unfortunately very basic, with nothing playable and just two videos. The only video worth mentioning was the second one that actually walked you through an in-game spy mission. The graphics are great, but sort of a less innovative version of Team Fortress 2. I don't want to judge the gameplay because it's still too early to tell. I will say this though: The Agency is nothing like anything else they've ever tried; kudos to them for thinking outside the box and giving new concepts an attempt.

As we ventured back outside the SOE band was in the middle of J.J. Cale's "Cocaine", the crowds were bigger than we had seen them all day and members of the Community team were bussing dirty tables. It was indeed a good day to be an MMO gamer in San Diego.

Andrew "Tamat" Beegle

Tags: News, SOE


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