Preview: Shadowbane

Icewind Dale II


"This warrior is 'double leathered.'"

Not to suggest he's compensating for anything...

"Git in mah belly!"

Soon to be Argannon the Black and Blue

The definition of hardcore summarized in a screenshot

"OOC: Yah Jim, you really took a bad turn this time. I think we're in Anarchy Online."

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Find your niche in a fallen world
Platform: CD-ROM
Developer: WolfPack Studios
Publisher: Ubi Soft
ESRB Rating Pending

   Ah, yes, Shadowbane. The massive multiplayer online role playing game that time seems to have passed by.

Some of the lesser informed on this title may ask, "why do you say that?" Well, Shadowbane hasn't exactly been a speed-demon in terms of the progression of development towards a foreseeable end. WolfPack Studios has been taking some serious time on their gem project, and as many expecting fans of the game will say, all for the better.

One thing, however, is certain: after showings at multiple Electronic Entertainment Expos (E3s) and constant community hype, waves will be made with Shadowbane is sent out into the world from its publisher, Ubi Soft.

Shadowbane, from it's announcement back in 1999, has been claimed as a strict departure from conventional MMORPG atmosphere. Initially stressing less accentuation on familiar concepts, such as skill-building (read: Fishing, get the idea), Wolfpack promised that Shadowbane will follow a strategic-centered concept.

Much of that claim remains to this day, as the beta closes and release looms on the proverbial horizon. Players who were captivated by intricate scenes of combat with vast armies of individual players and siege engines are still as entranced with the possibilities as ever.

Users will not simply be tossed into a collective digital medieval fantasy melting pot, but will be engaged in an intricate balance of alliances, power, and warfare unparalleled or proposed by any known title in the massive multiplayer genre. Players will play as people in a war-torn land where the world of men is crumbling, and the 'All-Father' has turned his back on his people in the coming darkness. Warlords and monsters rampage across a realm where the sun has become but a distant memory.

Due to what Wolfpack calls a "Dynamic World Model," players will immerse themselves in a world where anything is possible. They can quest alone, or pledge allegiance to a large faction, or start their own group with unique agenda. Kingdoms can rise and cities will fall as vast armies battle for influence and dominance over a shattered world. The ink of history is fresh, and the pen will be put in the hands of those with the strength, determination, and initiative to obtain it.

Powergamers and cheaters will find it tough to avoid the hand of justice in Shadowbane. A list will be available to players to document offenders, along with options for miscreant players to be killed on sight or hunted down by bounty hunters. Anonymity is non-existant in the game, effectively removing it as an option for misbehaving users to employ. The official website summarizes all this well enough to quote: "Tools such as grief log, kill on site list, bounty hunters, no anonymity, and player locator greatly enhance player accountability."

All in all, when Shadowbane debuts in the expected fourth quarter of this year, all of these factors conglomerated will create a massive multiplayer experience unparalleled as of yet. RPGamer will keep you posted of further information on it as the release date approaches.

by Brent Fisher

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