Up to this point, I thought they were two separate games. I mean, if you've got one perfectly fine MMO up and running, why take it down just to run a similar but evolved game? Then I realized I didn't know any of the differences between the two systems and thought I'd play them both.
Good lord, are they different. Essentially they look alike: you start out in a large stone stronghold wherein reside all your trainers and support. You're surrounded by terrain inhabited by monsters of increasing grades of threat. There are three clans of humans pitted against each other (I play Fujin) and your clan determines what kinds of weapons and abilities you'll master (my weapon is the lute). You gain quests and increase your capacity for power, similar to many adventure/fantasy games.
But in 12Sky you can run through the NPCs in the city. In 12Sky2 you collide with them like they were made of brick, and that's irritating. But in 12Sky, my sprinting ability costs me energy for as long as I leave it up; in 12Sky2, it expends only when I click on a new destination, which is so much handier. One thing they never thought of in designing 12Sky is one of my favorite elements in 12Sky2; when you talk to an NPC, they actually speak a line of dialogue. I don't speak Chinese, but I love listening to their voices because they illustrate who that character is quite well. They cough, sigh, giggle, grumble, and the effect is charming.
|Gambler Gary||Gambler Gouta|
Gambler Gary only has a humble little table but he's in the center of the social activity, while Gambler Gouta is shoved off to the side behind a row of buildings but is clearly possessed of a greater zeal for life. Gary's a hunched-over old man with gin blossoms, a pathetic dish towel-cum-shawl knotted about his shoulders. His breath smells like curdled milk and he tells the same three anecdotes over and over.
But Gouta's the one to watch out for. Look at that face: is he the Monkey King in disguise, or simply a rat-faced bastard? If you don't think he has complete control over those dice or those joss sticks, save yourself some time and just hand your wallet over to him. Or better yet, just don't hang out in that part of town.
|Elder Sangwan ||Guardian Fohchoy ||Elder Deison|
|Lute Trainer Lin||Songsmith Seiren|
|Lady Gayon||Guard Captain Yang||Guard Captain Fashu|
|Herb Master Yemok||Herbalist Chang|
There's not a tremendous amount of difference between Yemok and Chang, it seems. They're both old (and with that age comes great wisdom!), short, and a bit shaped by their experiences. It's Chang who would provide the last-minute solution to the hero's most vexing trouble or who could ably counsel a powerful and just lord. Yemok is more likely to fall asleep behind his desk, or to forget where he placed his medicine... or yours. And while you'd like to start giving your business to Herbalist Chang, it seems that Herb Master Yemok is your girlfriend's grandfather, and she would totally take it the wrong way if you stopped supporting him.
Good thing he's getting phased out in 12Sky2. Bring on the Chang!
|Mall Manager Ryong||Trader Xhai|
"Take my overloaded backpack," he instructed her from his deathbed. "Travel the world far and wide to provide the Fujin with the best spices, the rarest items, and all manner of vainglorious frippery." She readily promised, eager to explore foreign nations and peddle her exclusive gewgaws and gimcracks in her hometown. His sunglasses and umbrella are on display in her apartment, the artifacts of her proud and vibrant legacy of trade.
They have some subtle differences. He uses an oversized bamboo and palm-frond umbrella to shade himself from the sun, where she only requires a hand fan. Ryong loves shades of red, while Xhai's evolution expresses itself in purple. He's got a sporty little Mongol vest; she favors Uggs. They do, however, serve the same function between 12Sky and 12Sky2: they vend all the very powerful or showy items you can buy with real money to show off in-game.
This is how these free MMOs support themselves, in large part. With real money, with credit cards and PayPal transfers, players can spend real money to buy stuff in the game, be it a very powerful sword or simply a stylish face mask. These are in-game items you can't earn by playing the game, they don't turn up in any dungeon; this isn't loot dropped by any mob. This is the commercial bridge between the real world and the virtual realm. Would that we all had such disposable income, eh?
|Yellow Gate Master Qwan||Gate Master Miko|
But I can tell you, I would go anywhere Gate Master Miko wanted to take me. Rrrrrow.
|Tailor Yaming||Tailor Terai|
It's not that Tailor Yaming isn't glamorous. That's surely a smoking chinadoll dress, with a bad-ass wooden skewer holding her hair-head-thing in place... but only just barely. She's lookin' a little frayed around the edges. If Terai is the party girl, Yaming is the morning after. She probably wore that dress to the bar last night and woke up around 11:30 AM and crawled to work half an hour late.
If you can take a break from saving the world, get Tailor Yaming a glass of water or maybe bum her a cigarette. 12Sky can't end soon enough to suit her.