zOMG! is a full fledged browser based MMORPG add on to the existing Gaia Online world. While it can best be viewed as an extension of what Gaia already offered, the depth and scope that zOMG! brings with it warrants its own review. For years one of the chief complaints with Gaia Online was the lack of combat and a true sense of growth which couldn’t be achieved with the forum structure. Luckily the folks at Gaia Interactive listened and have been hard at work on zOMG! for several years and the effort really shows. The new MMORPG addition integrates fluidly with current Gaia avatars (your in-game character is displayed as your Gaia avatar) and offers another reason to stick with Gaia Online.
zOMG! Featured Video
zOMG! Full Review
By, Jaime Skelton
The casual gaming and social site Gaia Online has been around since 2003, offering players a chance to play a few minigames as they dress up their avatar, chat, and interact with other players. In 2008, the site decided to go for a more interactive social and gaming experience by launching zOMG!, an MMO that was integrated with the Gaia Online website and aimed to offer a light-hearted experience within a 2D world. The result is pleasantly surprising.
Feeling Unique Yet?
Gaia Online players can easily transition to playing zOMG! by finding it in their menu while logged in. New players, however, will need to first register for Gaia Online before entering the MMO. Registration is a simple process, and lets you choose your gender, skin, face, hair, and starting outfit. If none of the starting outfits appeal to you to start, don’t worry – there are plenty more available within your price range of the starting gold you receive on Gaia and zOMG!. Customization is something that Gaia/zOMG! specializes in, and there are plenty of outfits, accessories, and hair styles (along with backgrounds and other goodies) to make you stand out plenty in the world.
I Hope You’re Ready
Hopping into zOMG! is quick after character creation, and so is the tutorial process. A player new to zOMG! is dropped off at a train station, and given nothing more than a treasure chest in which they find a ring called Guns, Guns, Guns. If a ring named Guns puzzles the newbie, they’ll quickly figure out what it’s for on the next screen, as they encounter a guard being harassed by some sort of mechanical shark creatures, and are charged with helping him defeat the creatures.
Welcome, then, to zOMG!’s combat system, in which instead of equipping weapons, players equip rings that come with various skills (think of it as a summoning and skill system). Each ring grants a skill, which can then be used against enemies or on yourself or your friends. Combat, then, requires having a ring equipped with a combat skill, and then either double clicking on the enemy or targeting and then pressing the corresponding hotkey (1 through 0) to attack. There is no auto-attack feature, so players must stay aware and be ready to use multiple attacks if their first attack isn’t powerful enough or misses.
This strange ring system is actually part of a larger, and more complex and rewarding, combat system. As mentioned, each ring grants a specific skill. These skills range from close combat and ranged combat, crowd control, defense, healing, and stat mods. Rings also have sets, which when four rings are combined by being worn by their user, grant extra bonuses to the player. Using a skill costs stamina, which is an energy bar that recharges relatively quickly in and out of combat. Skills, like many MMOs, are slotted to an action bar for use. Unlike other MMOs, skills can be supercharged with rage, which builds up over time as a player is hit by enemies.
Also unlike other MMOs, there is no traditional leveling system. Instead, a player’s level is determined by the average combined level of their rings, know as their Charge Level. All rings are upgraded using charge orbs, and there are overall 10 charge levels requiring 10 charges a piece (450 charge orbs, due to increasing cost to raise a charge level). With 40 total rings to find, collect, and master, there’s plenty of work for a player to do if they wish to have a versatile skill set. In addition, charge level affects what types of drops you receive from enemies; to help with this, players are able to lower their charge level so that they can farm for items or help friends without being a hindrance.
Meet, Greet, Play
zOMG! strives to bridge the web-based world of Gaia Online with a more traditional MMORPG setting. Activities on both the web and in-game can benefit your avatar, and many activities on one portal cause you to leap to the other. For instance, zOMG! offers quests for players to go through in several areas, but some of these quests can be found while browsing shops and talking to NPCs on the web portal. Likewise, shops and crafting return the user to the web portal to complete transactions, although they have an in-game storefront.
Quests and crafting (in which players can collect items and recipes and make unique accessories and clothing) are one sample of the cross-portal interactivity of zOMG! and Gaia Online. Like stores, the forums themselves also have a presence in the game, and players can transition between the forums and the central square of town if they like to chat. Players can also go to Gaia Towns, social gathering areas that exist separate from zOMG! and offer player housing. This ultimately lends itself to a smooth integration of all Gaia’s various portals, although the integration is far from seamless.
Final Verdict: Great
While I had never been intrigued by Gaia Online and its light social-gaming atmosphere, I found myself rather entranced by zOMG!’s game play and style. The atmosphere of the game is light-hearted, but the game isn’t shallow, offering a great deal for players to work toward completing. The complexity of the Rings and Charge Level system was an added bonus that, while eventually turning a little grindy, still offered enough incentive to keep me interested.
In fact, zOMG! could very well act as a gateway drug to the Gaia Online community site itself, where players can discover the host of inter-connected options that enhance their gaming experience. Although I found a few glitches that were bothersome from time to time – such as the ability for players to keep their backgrounds on their avatars in game, resulting in an animated block running across your screen – the game held my interest enough to keep me playing longer than I imagined, giving me the chance to discover even more, including an in-town event. While the game will have its limited appeal, the casual and social gamer will be overwhelmingly pleased with zOMG!.
zOMG! Tutorial Video
zOMG! Gameplay Footage
zOMG! Cinematic Trailer
zOMG! Official Trailer
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