Finding the Horror- Pardus.

If Pardus is indicitative of what the future will be like, it is going to be a lot more frightening than anyone ever imagined.

Pardus is an MMO, or as developers Bayer&Szell call it, a Massively Multiplayer Online Browser Game (MMOBG). Essentally, Pardus is a persistent universe that users log into and develop a character, then join one of three factions (The Union, The Federation, or The Empire). Users then have a multitude of options regarding playstyle, and it`s here that Pardus really shines.

Pardus's main screen.

Pardus players have countless choices for how to play the game, since Pardus is a persistent living universe. The galaxy has planets, starbases, and outposts, all of which have logistical needs, so players can earn in-game currency by delivering food and supplies between locations- or players with a sufficient amount of experience and currency can build their own starbase to run themselves. Players can find asteroid fields or nebulae and mine them for resources to resell on planetary markets, or players can be a pirate and steal cargo from other players on a return trip from mining. Did a particularly brutal pirate steal your cargo and then destroy your spaceship? You can put a bounty on his head and watch other players hunt him down for the reward money.

The markets of the planet Sirion.

Speaking of money, Pardus has an incredibly in-depth economic system. The value of in-game resources is congruent with the principles of supply and demand, so the price of a given item at a particular starbase may not be the same as the price of the same item on a planet in the next star system over. Furthermore, the more of a given item you sell at a particular location, the more the price of that item drops, since the locals have less need of the item.

Trading goods with a planetary market.

All of this is, of course, incredibly interesting- but none of it is particularly horrific. As such, my readers might well be asking how Pardus merits a place in RedgoateeRob`s Horror Game Reviews.

Pardus deserves a spot here because the galaxy is not a particularly nice place.

My introduction to Pardus came courtesy a friend who plays under the username Ty Mercer. He invited me to play the game, and when I informed him that I was for the most part only an afficianado of horror games, he mentioned that there was indeed a horror element to Pardus. “Space serpents.” This was like the magic words.

Though my friend didn`t know it, I have a special adoration for anything to do with giant monsters. Films like Cloverfield and The Host have always been among my very favorite horror films and stories like King`s ‘The Mist’ have always held a special excitement for me. I quickly agreed to give Pardus a shot, planning to create a character and jet off into the galaxy with the one goal of hunting down the space serpent- but I was unprepared for what I would find in this universe.

A galaxy of horrors.

When I logged into Pardus for the first time, I was confronted with a galaxy crawling with Lovecraftian horrors. Every asteroid seemed infested with ‘space maggots’, giant worms that ooze slime and attack novice players. Dragons patrol the nebulae, winged horrors that can easily destroy a beginning player.

Weird creatures swarm around the outlying stars, grey monsters that seem composed of rock with an organic tendril stretching from it`s gaping maw, ready to consume unwary pilots. Worse, I occasionally would spot giant monstrousities that seemed entirely composed of mouth and jaw, creatures reminiscent of the eating monsters from King`s ‘The Langoliers’, here given the entirely appropriate name of Gorefangs.

Most of these creatures were capable of one-shotting a new pilot like myself, and Pardus’s approach to combat- menu-based but not quite turn-based, slow and methodical- meant that even if a novice player attempts to retreat, the retreat can fail and the creature can consume the player in one attack. The power of the game’s combat system lies in this simple interplay, as it manages to take the entirely dull, route concept of menu-based combat and turn it into something heart-pounding and frantic. Creatures that a pilot cannot see while navigating the spaceways can pull the ship unaware into a hostile encounter well above the player`s level, and the retreat button may or may not work.

Combat with a space dragon.

I slowly set about carving my way through space maggots, gaining experience and upgrading my weak starter ship with better armour and laser turrets. Occasionally I would collect some nebula mist on my way around the universe and sell it at the next space station or planet I saw, gaining a bit of currency, using the cash to repair my ship or socking it away. Some strange eldritch horror would occasionally grab my little ship, which I had christened the “Ghost of Carfax Abbey”, and attempt to swallow her whole, and I would jam on the retreat button and pray that it worked.

In combat with a space maggot.

The really fascinating thing about Pardus is that a game so simplistic graphically was able to provoke such responses, and I think in this is both the real streingth and the weakness of the game: the simplistic graphics and the browser-based format allow for essentally almost any PC to be capable of running the game, increasing the potential playerbase and allowing for a more full universe. However, the twitch gamer in me wonders what it would be like to be able to explore the universe of Pardus through a full-3d game engine that allows for real-time combat, what it would be like to duck and weave through an asteroid field with a gamepad while firing on a massive space dragon, dodging behind an asteroid when the enormous creature swoops at me, chomping it`s fangs. Something with the control of the classic PC game Descent, but in open space rather than the corridors of that title.

Undaunted, I continued to play the game, racking up experience points, and when I hit a certian level of experience the game offered me the opportunity to upgrade my ship. Trading in the ‘Ghost of Carfax Abbey’ so some other new player could rename her and she would serve him or her as well as she did me, I upgraded- to a run-down, rusted, secondhand mining rig. I laughed at the thought of this old, bulky trawler being the ‘step up’, and I first thought to name it the dirty colossus (after a rugged boss from my beloved Demon’s Souls), but I thought that might be a tad derivative, so I settled on the ‘Ancient Titan’; a jab at how old and used the graphic of the mining rig looked.

Maiden voyage of the 'Ancient Titan'.

Taking my new (well, new to me, anyway) ship on a test flight, I swung the ‘Ancient Titan’ through the spaceways- and landed head on into a SWARM of Gorefangs.

Ahhhhhholycrapretreatretreatretreat!!!

There`s a lot to Pardus, much more than what I have described here. A full metagame influences the greater direction of the universe, with forums where alliances between the factions are born and shattered, and I am given to understand that an annual horror roleplay influenced by the SAW and Hostel films gets underway in the forums, something I haven’t had the pleasure of checking out as of yet. As such, I may be returning to Pardus again in a future review, to more fully explore this massive universe that I have barely scratched the surface of. But for the time being, I would reccomend Pardus without hesitation to anyone looking for a fun MMO. Oh, and the very best part- Pardus is FREE TO PLAY. Yep, free. Paid accounts exist, but the paid account only really gets you into the subscriber galaxy and gives you a larger browser window, stuff that to me wouldn`t be that big a deal- I definitely had fun with the free account. If you want to check it out, the address to sign up and play the game is www.pardus.at.

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~ by Redgoateerob on March 7, 2012.

4 Responses to “Finding the Horror- Pardus.”

  1. I may have a bias, but I’m happy that you’ve enjoyed your Pardus time so far and I’m thrilled you were able to give it such a positive review. I’d also like to mention, for those seeking a “twitchier” experience, the Federation Battle Trainer. It’s a 2d scrolling shooter created by members of the Pardus community. You can download it here:
    http://fbt.pardus.at/

    Fly safely,
    Ty

    • Thanks Ty! I already ran the general idea I had for a followup to it past you and I hope you`ll like that one too! I`ll definitely check out the Fed Battle Trainer as well and I encourage my readers to do the same! Thanks again for recommending a fantastic game 🙂 -Rob

  2. Fantastic review Rob, your work is getting better an better!
    It seems you have one of the same problems I have in feeling like you’re leaving everyone out of SOO much more of the game even after describing it significant detail like you did in this review!
    I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied with what I can pack into one of mine 🙂

    • Thanks bro 🙂 I often have found myself feeling like there is a lot that I`m not covering when I post one of these reviews, but in thinking about it, really what I`m looking to primarily accomplish is to let the reader know whether or not I had fun with the game. I get so irked reading ‘professional’ reviews where all they do is give an objective summary of the setting of the game and what the controls are and then ascribe the game a completely arbitrary score and don`t really convey to me at all whether I`m going to have fun playing it.

      Pardus is kind of a special case because I had spent weeks with the game, but since the game runs off an ‘action points’ system, you can only play it so long each day before you run out of AP and you can`t play anymore. For me I ran out of AP in about 15-30 minutes. So even playing for weeks I was only able to scratch the surface of this huge, huge MMO. I`m planning to do another review when I`ve seen more of Pardus to address the stuff I wasn`t able to see, but that review won`t come for awhile. I put this up because I wanted to have something done to at least give an overview of my feelings on the game and help spread the word about it because I do think it`s a fun game.

      I don`t think any review can be totally exhaustive of everything you can possibly do in a game, but my hope is that I`m conveying to the reader whether or not I had fun with the game, so they know if it`s worth their time. I`d like to think I`m accomplishing that. That, and I hope all the little ancedotes and jokes I try to throw in there too are funny and cool and that they make people happy, because one of the reasons I`m doing these reviews is to hopefully give my friends something to make them laugh or be amused by.

      I think you`re definitely accomplishing some great work with your reviews too (better than mine). I look forward to yours every time. The Wolverine and Alan Wake reviews were fantastic and I can`t wait to see what you post next.

      Sorry for the wall of text, hope it wasn`t TL;DR. lolz!

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