On top of which, for all its online persistence, Saga is more a solo game than a competitive one. PvP is largely optional, and even then you can choose to stick to no-consequence friendly matches. Most players will just carve through the single-player quests. These don’t have much variety, despite token attempts at chaining some of them together with vague plotting. Worse, there are two leveling systems - one for your squads, and a faster one for your nebulous ‘nation’, ie, you. If you’re level ten, you can tackle level ten quests - but you’ll find them bastard-hard because most of your troops are still level two or three. So, you end up repeating early quests time and again to get your army’s level up. In other words, you grind.
And that’s the big problem with Saga - you’re in it to find the right cards and to grow the right numbers, not because of the battles themselves. Visually these are somewhere around 2004, and so rudimentary that delight hinges on whether you win, rarely on how you win. Plus, it’s unacceptably buggy. Crashes are miserably common, and even the website - essential to buying new cards - throws up regular error messages. Messy MMO launches are hardly uncommon, but Saga really should have done a few more beta warm-up exercises.
Yet there’s something here. Saga successfully transplants MMO ideals into an RTS framework, and as it (hopefully) develops into something more stable and a little glossier, the high-end PvP stuff, fielding an army you’ve invested so much time and love and money into against someone else’s treasured troops, could become incredible. Saga is a work in progress - and one we’ll come back to.
May 2, 2008