Terra World Online
At a Glance: Prepare to step into the exciting, action-packed world of Terra World Online, a place crammed full of poorly animated sprites who are all competing in a gigantic race to figure out what the hell 97% of the scenery is supposed to represent. Sure Terra World Online may not have any coherent instructions, plotline, characters, content, decent graphics, intuitive interface, or redeeming qualities whatsoever, but hey... IT'S FREE! While the balding 40-year old slobs living in their parents' basement spend hours upon hours playing their $10-a-month subscription to Everquest, up to eight different people are laughing at them while exploring the exciting tile-based universe of Terra World Online. Yeah, these eight people are probably also balding 40-year old slobs living in their parents' basement, but there's a major difference here: TERRA WORLD ONLINE IS FREE!!!
Developer: R. Mulvany
Publisher: The damned filthy Internet
Before jumping into any complex online roleplaying game, I like to familiarize myself with the epic storyline fueling its amazing online presence. That way I feel like I'm really "part of the world" when I'm stabbing my 59th consecutive Flame Beetle with a Rusted Sword Short of Woeful Inadequacy. Online roleplaying games are pure story-driven works of art which must be thoroughly researched before you can completely immerse yourself in their world and truly appreciate it. For example, the plot of Everquest is that you're a... well, you're a... guy, and you have to do... stuff... until you stop doing that... stuff. I don't recall Everquest's central storyline but I think it had something to do about a witch putting curses on people that made ten dollars disappear from their wallets every month. Fortunately, Star Wars: Galaxies is different because that game challenges its users to... uh... kill things and then... well... okay, never mind, forget the storyline of those titles. The only thing that matters here is the wonderful world of Terra, and here's the backstory in all its glory. NOTE TO READERS: The following quoted material is very complex and contains many complicated words such as "legend" and "it." You might want to have an older adult read it to you.
There is a legend in the World of Terra...
It tells of an ancient god who will bestow a great power to the one who shows courage, strength, and trust. The legend also tells that the power can turn any mortal into an immortal and powerful being. No one knows if the legend is false or not, but brave warriors have left their home and set out on a journey to prove that they are worthy of the power. Some will use it for themselves and to corrupt the World of Terra into their liking, but others hope to find this power and use it for the good of all mankind. What would you use the power for?
And so your journey begins...
So there you go: you're a guy looking for a thing owned by some other guy and once you find it you'll use it to do something to something else. If you can track down this guy and get this thing then you'll be able to use it to do other things. This sounds like one of those intentionally vague storylines so when the lead programmer decides to quit and the site's webmaster doesn't know what's going on, he'll simply write an update reading, "hey guys, you know that thing you were looking for? It was... uh... the power of love and you had it inside you the entire time" and then he'll post a picture of some anime girl holding up two fingers in victory while squinting.
The vague, pointless plotline goes remarkably well with the game itself, which doesn't really seem like a finished game as it does seem like a high school Visual Basic project for extra credit. You can perform certain actions and events in Terra World Online, but I am still not sure what they are. There is magic and sword fighting, but neither seem to work particularly effectively. Since I didn't really know how to play the game and I gave up in frustration roughly negative 18 seconds into it, I decided to simply take it at face value - a roleplaying game - and role play. After all, online roleplaying games are just big social events where fat guys acting like wood elves can meet other fat guys acting like wood elves, so I naturally assumed roleplaying would immediately kick my gaming career into fourth gear.
The first thing I had to decide was who I wanted to role play as. Sure elves and trolls and barbarian indians are awesome and everything, but I wanted a distinct, truly heroic character. This is why I chose to role play as Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations. Kofi is a real leader, having grown up as a poor child in Ghana who somehow was able to overcome the odds and become the first Ghana citizen who could afford both a tie and jacket. Now he's one of the head honchos in the UN, often the guy first in line to badmouth America when we decide to randomly start bombing a country who gave us mean looks on the bus ride home.
As you can see, character creation is somewhat limited in this game. Although the real-world Kofi Annan is clearly a black gentleman, my character appears as white as my underwear! Well, maybe my underwear is a bad example, but somebody's underwear. The closest I came to making Terra-Kofi look like UN-Kofi was by putting that black bandana thing on his head, and I don't even remember how I accomplished that. I once saw this movie called "Exterminator 2" starring Mario Van Peebles, and he wore a headband, so therefore all black people wear headbands. Also all black teenagers commit crimes and live in the ghetto and the year is always 1984.
Despite my disappointment in Terra-Kofi, I continued on with the game. After all, I'm a regular social butterfly and there was no way I was going to miss out on any exciting online adventures, even if it means I had to kill my own mother. Once I confirmed my username and email account, I spawned into the exciting world of Terra World Online! And that, my friends, is when the magic began!