Panzar Review

Orcs, Humans, Goblins and Elves. These four races are¬†involved in a big brawl but said to be at war for the point of tutorial plot convenience, something never actually touched on after the tutorial. I bring this up first because that is the extent of story in Panzar, which I have to think is a mixed blessing. Sure, it means there’s no more story, which is a shame, but it also means they can’t get it even more wrong. To explain that the four races are at war doesn’t exactly fit well with the fact that all four races are fighting both with, and against, each other and themselves.

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What would have made a sensible plot is to have simply said that there is a world spanning tournament. Those with the most points, awarded through actions in combat, are crowned the best fighter in the world. All manner of gold, jewels, weapons and concubines are then awarded to him, or her, but most likely him judging by character appearances.

There are Eight classes in Panzar, two for each race. Each race has what is an offensive class, designed to simply kill, and a more support oriented class, helping keep allies alive or inhibit the killing powers of enemies.

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The Orcs

  • Beserker: The Beserker is a reasonably armored damage-dealing maniac, able to take a hit and stand toe-to-to with anybody with abilities focused solely on attacking and killing the enemies.
  • Tank: The Tank is heavily armored, he’s a damage sink who can’t deal much out. Designed to attract more attention from the opposition, taking damage while the rest of the team wipes them out.

The Humans

  • The Paladin: The Paladin is reasonably armored, deals less damage but has the ability to heal and support team-mates in other ways, such as increasing speed, bringing them back to life or simply making those close to him invulnerable for a short amount of time.
  • The Inquisitor: This guy just makes me think of the rogue from World of Warcraft. He’s a shifty little bugger with the ability to turn invisible, using this, he sneaks up on his enemies and shanks them.

The Dwarves

  • The Sapper: The Sapper isn’t too great at taking damage but is can deal it out while supporting allies. He can build mines to kill enemies, barriers to protect locations as well as totems for healing, teleportation and blocking magic.
  • The Gunner: The Gunner is the damage dealer of the Dwarves. His real danger comes with the structures he can build, ranging from cannons, a mine and even a Tesla pole to shock any enemies that venture close.

The Elves

  • Sister of Fire: The Sister of Fire is a lightly armored damage dealer, focusing on mostly fire based damage, as the name should imply, but also having both air and lightning based attacks. Fire, being the primary one, is the one most used and also features a damage over time effect.
  • Ice Witch: The Ice Witch is also lightly armored. As opposed to the Sister of Fire, the Ice Witch uses mostly ice related attacks, which can damage enemies but for the most part are used to freeze them in place or slow them down. Some effects can also include the leeching of mana.

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While the class selection can offer some variety, the gameplay sadly doesn’t. Though the modes are given different names, four that I have heard of, although I have only encountered three: Domination; King of the Hill and Siege; with the other I have yet to play being Meteor, the only thing you actually do is stand on a glowing circle until the allotted time is over.

In Domination your aim is simply to control the point while racking up more points through killing enemies. King of the hill has you control the point and simply try to keep the enemy from taking the point while points are automatically gained. Siege has a single team attack multiple locations in order while the other team defends the locations, if the attacking team captures the locations before the time runs out they win, if not, they lose. Finally there is Meteor, which even though I’ve played quite a while, I have yet to encounter. Here, the teams simply have to find an object and take it to the enemy base.

The reason it’s hard to encounter the different game modes is because for some reason Panzar doesn’t want you to actually search for a game yourself. When you want to jump in and play, there is just one large red button labeled ‘play’. This drops you into a random game, which could be on any of the maps and any of the modes. The one benefit seems to be that the game does include matchmaking, which means that either early or late, you’ll be put against people around the same character or item levels.

This is a huge positive as in both item and character level is where the pay aspect of this free to play game comes in. You can buy crystals with real money and these crystals can be used to buy premium membership which increases your rewards after battle, they can be used to instantly level up your character, instantly finish the crafting procedure that is either upgrading your item or creating a whole new one and even simply be used to buy new items.

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Leveling up is mostly done through the experience gained in combat, extra gained by actually winning. When you level up you get an ability point to use and put in your character, selecting either one of the other offensive or passive skills. Each class, of course, having a different set of abilities, meaning if you want to use all of the characters later skills you’ll have to level up one of all eight.

If you don’t pay with crystals, the crafting system can eventually take ages, increasing either from use or as the item level gets higher. I wasn’t completely sure about this, but I’m leaning towards the former. This is somewhat understandable, it turns the crafting into a pro/con situation, as well as a waiting game. What is more important though is simply that the crafting system adds a little depth to Panzar. Will you craft a rune to increase health or energy? Which will you add to each piece of armor. When you upgrade your armor, how much money will you spend on the random upgrade system? Each time you prospect costs, but if you prospect again you may miss what would have been a better upgrade value.

What this all means in real terms is that Panzar isn’t a ‘Pay 2 Win’ game, but it is almost essential to spend money to unlock things in slightly less than a human lifetime. Drops are doubled under premium, which means even if you only spend crystals on that, then you are benefiting greatly and will be able to obtain other armor and weapons quicker. What it also means is that due to matchmaking, those who don’t pay should never be overwhelmed by those who do.

Where Panzar shines is in the aesthetics. Visually, it is excellent, putting the CryEngine to great use. Pop it on max settings and you wont have anything to complain in things to look at, some great architecture on show in the structure based maps and whenever water is involved, it looks simply outstanding. The character models are also very good, aside from the Elves.

I hate having to mention it, but why do the female characters always look like, and dress like, strippers? What is strange, the females were meant to look ‘sexy’ but due to terrible running animations and the only case of a bad character model, they look like they’ve borrowed legs from a Giraffe. It’s quite perturbing to be staring at a highly detailed toned arse, but to then look down to see legs that are much too long and refuse to bend in any remotely normal fashion.

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Like the visuals, the audio is also strong. It has a decent orchestral soundtrack which melds well into the chaotic combat, hitting highs and lows which can reflect the to and fro of battle. The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be many tracks, or some of the tracks are very similar to each other, making it all start to sound very samey after about half an hour. The ambiance of combat is where the audio shines, having the screams and grunts of battle, the rush of air when a fireball hits and even the slight cracking of ice all stand out and audible, it adds a nice level of depth.

Panzars main problem comes with the feel of it. Attacking animations seem artificially slowed, possibly an attempt to add weight to the combat, but it still ends up feeling floaty. This is primarily because beyond a number appearing on the screen, there is nothing to show that you have or have been hit. With meatier combats of later games like Vindictus, even large MMOs like TERA, Guild Wars 2 and Wildstar, this feels feels like a big step backwards. I can understand this however, as the game was originally released in 2010.

I’m quite dissappointed in Panzar. There is little in terms of variety beyond the eight classes. There are only a few tiers of equipment for each class, a handful of maps and two of the four game modes feel identical, just having been given a different description. Having been out for nearly three years, now on update thirty-one point six, there is no justification for this lack of content. Sure, it looks great and even sounds good, but beyond aesthetic appeal there is little that will bring me back.

To find out more about Panzar or to start playing, visit the game page.

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