I have played a lot of MMO's in my time.. I feel I have a pretty good handle on the genre and have a very good idea of what makes a game good, and what makes a game bad. Both in terms of what I personally feel, and as well as taking a broader view as a whole. I can readily recognize why one game or another may not appeal to me, but be appealing to others.
What's interesting is that I find that as time has gone on I have had to lower my expectations because none of contemporary games are ever as good as the now lofty memories of the games of old..
I fully realize that it's not fair of me to compare a modern game to the memory of a previous game. A memory full of good times, good people and fun events. Memories that I generally cherish in some way, oh and there was a game involved too..
Aion Online is the first game in a long time that actually holds up under this scrutiny.. I was shocked..
Generally I use three games as my virtual yard sticks; Ultima Online, because it was basically the first and implemented many things correctly, and many more incorrectly. Everquest, again because it was ground breaking and a first but also because many of the things that made it most memorable are absolutely horrible by todays standards. Ah memories. And finally World of Warcraft because it's everything that Everquest wasn't -- including good in some cases. I played all three of those games for at least more than 2 years.. Five in the case of EQ, and am still playing WoW as I type this though I can honestly say that I dread it at times..
Aion Online might find itself added to that yardstick for comparison to future games..
Initially I was a bit horrified by the notion of a JRPG style game.. The very thought of a game in which the women were high pitch voiced busty school girls with bobbed hair and the men where androgynous she-males wielding swords you would otherwise need a forklift to move didn't exactly excite me.. Still doesn't to be honest, but that's not what Aion is..
While I have seen a few extremely improbable swords the rest of the game isn't bad at all.. The JRPG aspect is fairly minor all things considered and the game itself is beautiful and full of depth.
The game itself isn't super innovative in that they really have only one thing that other games don't have and thats flight.. Their flight model is really great and does a lot for the game once you figure it out. Flight has two modes; Flying and Gliding. When you glide, you have a chance of finding thermals and can soar just like a bird! The only down side to flight is that no matter how you go about it you can only do it for so long bfeore you have to rest..
Everything else is what you would expect, but done very well.. The game engine works well, if maybe a tad laggy from time to time and of course looks fantastic as it's based on the crysis engine..
My only true concern at this point is the end game.. It touts a brand new end game that they are calling PVPVE.. which is code for PVE while some one ganks you.. I'm not fooled.. But at the same time I havent' experienced it yet.. Maybe its good..
I'll have to wait and see..