RIFT Review
RIFT Box Art
System: PC
Dev: Trion World Network
Pub: Trion World Network
Release: March 1, 2011
Players: MMO
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p
Down with Regulos!
by Josh Wirtanen

When I first booted up RIFT, the most recent MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) to hit the market, I admit I was pretty skeptical. I spent my first few hours making sarcastic comments about how similar this game's user interface was to World of Warcraft's. But after those first few snarky hours, I started to find myself more involved in the story, characters, and scenery of RIFT.

RIFT Screenshot

Sure, RIFT borrowed WoW's entire control scheme, key bindings, map art style, and so on. But the most noteworthy features of RIFT are the things that didn't come directly from WoW. The most obvious of these is the rift event, which, as the name suggests, is the defining feature of this game. At any given time, in any given location (besides the starter zones), a rift can open in the sky, spewing out minions of the evil warlord Regulos. During these occurrences, everyone in the area must gather together to push back these forces and seal the rift shut.

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This rift feature is exceptionally well-executed. Instead of waiting for an invite from a raid leader, players are given the option to join a public group that forms around each rift. And after each stage of the rift event is completed, loot is automatically handed out to players. The amount of loot each player receives is based on how much that person has contributed. For example, you can score tiny amounts of goodies just by having the good fortune to be near a rift as it gets sealed, but if you are the person who killed the most baddies during the event, the seriously cool stuff will go to you.

RIFT Screenshot

This system is nearly flawless. You can participate in these events without having to wait for an invite, and you can get rewarded for actually helping out rather than sitting on the sidelines waiting for the crumbs to fall. In fact, during my time in the game, it seemed like the amount of players required to seal these rifts generally depended on how many players were in the area at the time. I've had groups of twenty or more people working hard to seal off a difficult rift, and I've taken on a few rifts all by myself when there was no one else around to help me out. The only complaint I have is that perhaps these occur a bit too frequently, which may cause the novelty of the whole thing to wear off fairly quickly. Seasoned RIFT veterans will most likely choose to completely ignore them. But RIFT is still in an early state, and I imagine the frequency will get dialed down if players start getting too bored with them.

Another thing that RIFT brings to the table is an excellent storyline. There's this nasty guy named Regulos who pretty much radiates beams of pure purple evil. He sends his minions into the world of Telara via rifts in the space-time continuum and just messes all over the place. There are two opposing factions who are both trying to rid the world of this fellow. If you play as the Defiant faction, you start your adventure in the midst of some apocalyptic event in which Regulos is pretty much destroying the world. Some sort of mystical steampunk technology has risen you from the dead, and you get sent back in time to stop the events that brought about this horrible end. If you play as the Guardians, your story begins in the middle of a massive battle, during which the gods bring your defeated corpse back to life to help take down the threat of Regulos and pals. I started a character in each faction, and in both cases I found myself reading every quest log and tidbit of information I could find. The well-written story makes the typical "kill ten of such-and-such a monster" quests much more endurable, since doing these quests actually makes you feel like you're impacting the world of Telara.

RIFT Screenshot

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