The West, developed by InnoGames, is a F2P browser MMO that deals with old West. Players take control of a simple greenhorn in the west, gunning for his/her fame and fortune in the hostile landscape of sand and bandits.
Snake Plisskin, Anyone?
Customization is always important. It may not be the biggest factor, but it sure is noticeable enough. With that said, The West does a pretty impressive job in creating your avatar. The choices are plentiful enough; ranging from smoking cigars to Indian headdresses, players will have enough options to maintain their own uniqueness and flair with the many combinations possible. Other titles within competing range of The West almost always fail on this aspect, but InnoGames certainly took it into consideration and is apparent by the way it exists.
The available customization options are faithful enough to how people looked during the old west era, however, InnoGames is able to develop interesting, but realistic, appearances, and can easily impress anybody who isn't too fond of that part of history.Silence of the Lambs
The game looks nice enough and the developers certainly didn't waste anything in the visuals department as much as a browser game would allow, but it just sounds so dead. I mean dead in the sense that it's just dead; there is no music or other sound effect apart from the absolutely deafening gunshots in duels. There is no ambience to be found anywhere, and my entire playthrough felt just so empty. With one important aspect missing, I can't but help feel that The West isn't a game that was made with much heart and mostly just capitalizing on the MMO boom at the time of its conception. Music and sound are the best elements in any game that may virtually make or break it. I didn't feel like I was in the wild west at all, but more like just some guy playing a browser game.
No Rest For The Wicked
The West hosts a rather gigantic map with sporadic pre-generated towns and player-made towns, and lots and lots of icons representing the jobs your character could partake in. A player starts off in the middle of nowhere, greeted by a bartender whose business is under attack by some evil bandits. This whole tirade serves as a tutorial that teaches you all you have to know about playing in The West. Normally, tutorials only teach you the basics of gameplay available and that you'll find that there is much more to be had as you trudge along. What you'd do in the tutorial is the same thing you'd find yourself repeating over and over again, without much of a feel of actual achievement and accomplishment. The gameplay is solely based around how much time you can invest in mindlessly clicking certain locations to do jobs and hopefully obtain something nice, aside from currencies and experience, of course.
There isn't much sense in leaving the are you find yourself in other than the fact that to complete certain quests, you have to do specific jobs. At the end of the day, so long as you're forcing your character to work day and night chasing bandits away or hanging posters, he'll level and he'll like it. Or else, I guess. There isn't really any real direction or purpose in The West other than making your character the best he can be through menial tasks and no-name bandits for a no-reason cause. Now, sure, a lot of browser games have no direction as well, but a lot of them are good by being plain fun, and not stuck watching progress bars countdown and telling you that you've walked sheep a good total of three times without any other sort of animated notification.
There isn't a story in The West, but it does have its own set of interesting NPCs to set the mood in your wanderings. The Saloon plays a big part in the game which is run by the barkeep you meet from the beginning of the game. As you play more and more, the saloon's residents increase from the barkeep to several other characters like a dancer and a sheriff. By themselves, they are all pretty unique individuals that enhance the western feel of the game and are all pretty much paired up with a proper script that doesn't stray away from its theme. Well written and well thought out, these characters will serve as further tutorials as well as extra quest givers that give semi-story oriented questlines, giving a much needed flavor to the game.
Shooting Each Other Silly
Outside of the redundant activities a player could partake in, the biggest draws of The West is its cooperative and competitive aspect. PvP comes in the form of duels, against both NPCs and players, which is similar to how combat works in other games of its ilk. The one who has the better stats wins, but The West does have its own unique flavor mixed in the standard recipe. This element is done through the evasive maneuvers that your character can make through the rounds and the areas s/he can possibly shoot at. It's a veritable game of Battleship, albeit on the human body. This creates a nice twist in that your tactics can completely bypass an opponents higher statistics, considering that his fattened agility will be rendered useless if he can't even hit anything. It's a mixed bag of skill, cunning, and time invested in a character. But mostly the latter, to be completely honest. Your duelling experience is further enhanced by the advanced classes available past your silly greenhorn one. At level 15, you are given the option of choosing from Adventurer, Dueler, Soldier, and Worker, each unique in their own way as they give several perks that will fit in nicely with most playstyles and certain aspects of roleplay.
Town building is another aspect unique to The West. Once you reach level 10, you become eligible to town memberships and even putting up your own town with its own nifty name (with the help of other players of course). You can get many different perks like free trading, dueling with players, and simply having a strong sense of community with the player members of that town. Once you have that established, Fort Battles can be partaken in once your town has the proper resources to spend for the preparations, and can get more and more costly depending on the kind of fortifications your group deems necessary. These fort battles can be a lot of fun, and occurs in the form of a tactical rpg where players take turns in taking potshots at one another as they move across a battlefield, either hoping to keep a flag for more that five rounds, or by simply defeating the entire opposing team through good ol' fashioned violence.
Cash Shop "Convenience"
The West's cash shop contains only a few things that the game regards simply as purchases of convenience. Though most of them aren't dreadfully imbalanced, I still regard these options much more than convenience. For one, the possible purchases could bypass a big load of grinding by 50%, whether they be for more income or automated job queues. I can imagine how awesome it would be to queue up several jobs at a time and leave until they're finished, rather than the standard 4 job limit. But perhaps the most eye-twitching of them all is the double character bonus that speaks for itself; it double character job perks, meaning that you're duelist can be obscenely strong and cause great displeasure to those that can't or won't afford such luxuries. Not only can it be used in PvP, but it will certainly help easing the repetitiveness of PvE by alleviating you of too much redundancy with a completely competent character. In, my opinion, it shapes up to be a pay-to-win situation, albeit at a smaller scale.
Back Off From That Dreadful Desert
Once all is said and done, The West can be entertaining, but I stress the word, can. The West has a nice concept, but fails dreadfully in execution and fails to recognize some of the finer elements in making MMOs great.