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VWN World Review: Wizard101
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World Review: Wizard101


 
Main Review

Compatible with Operating Systems:
Win XP Win 2K Vista

World Status: Operational


World Purpose: Gameworld

Age Suitability: Juniors (below 12), Young Teens


World-Type

Wizard101 is not a social space by any means; it is a pure gameworld, a massively multiplayer online system which is designed primarily with children in mind. It is a MMORPG that launched in late 2008. Within it, you play a schoolchild, about to enrol in the school of witchcraft and wizardry, based amongst the towers and parapets of a purpose built fortress-town. When you begin, you choose your gender, your starting outfit, and your school of magic. You are then given your first wand.

If this is starting to sound familiar, then yes, you are right. Wizard 101 is indeed blatantly ripping off Harry Potter, and the theme continues right the way through.

It also borrows a great deal from the older children?s MMORPG ToonTown, gaining the same cartoony feel, with chirpy, brightly coloured characters, buildings, and perhaps most importantly, identical area structure and method of transport between levels. Even the name selection screen, where you choose and mix and match first names and surnames from a list of predefined options, is lifted straight from the older world, and just reskinned. In fact, the only area that seems uniquely its own, is the combat system.


Combat in Wizard101



Despite all the ripping off, Wizard101 is a remarkably well put together platform. It is naked gaming, but also it is designed to almost guarantee a safe haven for children. Trying just a few weeks after launch, the world was packed with throngs of players, but there was no griefing, no foul language, anywhere to be seen.

The World in Brief

The client is a small 8mb download, with a few strange quirks. Firstly, they ask for an email address when you download the client, in order to download it, but never send a confirmation request ? the site takes your email and does nothing with it. This little oddity aside, the client downloads smoothly, installs swiftly, then spends a good ten minutes on a high speed line downloading updates ? which total 455mb in size.

This dubious practice allows the developers to advertise a small client download, when in actuallity, the client is rather complex, full-featured, and large.

Still, those minor issues over with, you enter the world, which loads up either full screen or windowed, and begin.



You are a young boy or girl enrolling in a magical school. Why you do this, your family history et al, is completely glossed over. You start off in Golem Grotto, trying to enrol at Magisterious school.

One of the nice effects right at the start, is choosing the type of experience you will have ? your wizardly powers. You are run through a series of questions that seemingly have little relevance to casting magic. The questions appear on the right of the screen area, and with every answer, a design on the left grows more complex. Its an aptitude system, drawing on the child?s personality to equip them with the skill set that best fits their style of play.



Spell System Applitude Test



Golem grotto is a small map, barely big enough for a single building and a handful of characters. It, like all the maps, is surrounded by a high wall on all sides, and a tunnel leads out of it. Players must run into the tunnel to leave the map, at which time another map, with a connecting tunnel loads, and they find themselves there instead. Some maps have many such tunnels, and can be the size of whole neighbourhoods, filled with monsters to battle. With very few specific examples, the maps are static; beyond monster killing there is nothing you can do to change them. Most are lined with houses, and some of these houses can be entered ? leading to smaller, instanced maps inside them.

Combat and questing are the main use of time within wizard101, and almost every map has its share of continually respawning villains to kill. It is perhaps ironic that even when the villain is an evil undead lord bent on worldly destruction, when you fight your way to the top of his tower and finally kill him, he will respawn just two minutes later, for the next group to vanquish him.

In a nutshell then, Wizard101 is a fun gameworld, but one where the players have no lasting impact on the world whatsoever. Personal progress and levelling ? gaining exp for killing monsters, is the only means of leaving a mark upon the environment.



The Combat System

This world?s combat system sounds interesting, seeing as it uses a turn-based deck of cards battling system, which is advertised as one of the main draws, but when you experience it, it is nothingl ike advertised. Instead, it is standard MMO fare, with the cards basically being a series of one-shot spells. You draw seven from your deck to begin with, and each is an attack that lasts one round, that you can play. You can add more cards by completing quests and levelling up, but there is no combo system, no pools of mana or creatures to summon and stay in play. If you summon a creature, it deals one round of damage immediately then unsummons itself, leaving your side of the play area blank, until your next turn.

One of the better sides of combat, is if you run through where someone else is fighting, you get drawn into the same battle, and the monsters they were fighting can attack you as well. You cannot leave until they are all dead, and when you join, more full-health monsters join too, to help even things out.

The joining other battles can be a problem, as aside from specific tower dungeons, the world is not instanced, so every battle plays out in real time right there on the street. Navigating your way past ongoing battles without inadvertently joining them, becomes a skill in and of itself.



The Commons, a central map. The arrows round the edge point to adjoining areas accessed by tunnels



Every spell you use costs mana, of which you have a limited supply, although this does get larger as you level, and can be augmented by clothing with special abilities. When this mana runs out, it does not recharge. Instead, you have to go to the fairground, and play a mini-game there, to recharge your mana, and earn gold. Do very well at a minigame and you may even get an enchanted item as a bonus reward.

There are 8 games to choose from, each is fairly well thought out, if primitive, basically the same as simple flash games, but ones which clearly exist to manage server resources ? more players will be playing the mini games than battling monsters at any given time, in order to regain mana.

 

Sub Reviews

Here at Virtual Worldlets, we look at all worlds, whether for entertainment, training, medicare, industry or military use. Thus, we have the situation where different uses judge by different criteria. Below are a series of sub-reviews, each tailored to a different aspect of the world.

Explorers
For some, its the thrill of discovery, the freedom to strike out, to pioneer. Whether its mapping new lands, or exploring unknown fields of endeavour, to be first, to boldly go, this is what explorers live for.

Wizard101 is divided into dozens of different maps, each of which has a very different theme, and are gradually unlocked as you complete quests, getting harder and harder.

Unfortunately for the dedicated explorer, you gain a full map with ?you are here? indicators, immediately on visiting each one.

 

Achievers
Work, work work. Everybody... You have this burning desire to succeed, to achieve renown, to be the best in whatever field you set your sights to. No matter what, you must be the best... What will you be? A powerful warlord? The leader of a town? You're ambitious, and crave power? This section is for you.

An almost endless parade of quests, wide variety of monsters, unlockable content, and 8 schools of magic which you can mix and match. Wizard101 is definitely a personal achiever?s dream, as the little extras you can add to the power and abilities of your character as you progress, seem almost infinite in number.

 

Killers
You get your fun through fighting, killing, pillaging and pilfering. From despicable thieves, through sneaky assassins, great military generals, and noble knights, you love to kill, you live to kill.

An unlockable quest leads to the arena, a dedicated place for PvP fights. There are no level boundaries; any level can fight any level, all gloves are off, and up to eight players can participate in a battle at any time. With some spells capable of summoning 30 foot high monsters whose attacks ripple across the entire battlefield, PvP can get very hectic indeed.

 

 

Overall
Wizard101 is very much a MMO gameworld rather than a ?proper? virtual world, a static and unchanging world-in-stasis that you cannot leave a mark on, but at the same time, it is immensely fun whilst there is a steady stream of new challenges at least, and is a very safe place for children to play.

 

Rating 68.5 / 100
Newbie Friendliness
14.0
/ 15
Community Values
2.0
/ 15
Believability
6.0
/ 15
Immersion
11.5
/ 15
Administration
9.5
/ 10
Automated help
6.5
/ 10
Code Integrity
9.5
/ 10
Entertainment
9.5
/ 10

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Client OS:Win 2K, Win 98, Win 2K, Win 2K

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