Tabula Rasa Review
Tabula Rasa box art
System: PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: NCSoft 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: NCSoft 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 30, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 (MMOG) 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
The kitchen-sink approach to gameplay elements doesn't make me want to wash my hands of this game

by Cole Smith

Tabula Rasa may have a strange name, but the gameplay will be familiar to shooting fans with an interest in the RPG, sci-fi genre. This massive online multiplayer game is dedicated to virtual non-stop action. It doesn't claim to be everything for everyone. Many gameplay elements are present, but they are added more for flavor, and are well balanced in that regard.

Tabula Rasa screenshot

RPG traits are definitely evident as skills, armor, and weapons are leveled-up, but the process is streamlined to accommodate the attention deficit in all of us. Tabula Rasa is not a perfect game, but if you're into shooters with a decent degree of depth, you could sure do a lot worse.

Excellent cutscenes tell the tale of the Bane conquering the Earth. Only a small faction of humans is left to try to defeat them. An organization known as the AFS (Allied Freed Sentients) discovered alien technology to vacate the planet and track down the Bane in the far reached of space. The battle begins on what's left of the planet known as Foreas, a former paradise now being transformed into a world of death, decay and despair. Although the only playable race is the human, you will attempt to form allies with more cooperative aliens, such as those that live on Foreas. They will assist you in battle, and also help you out with information and the obtainment of other useful items.

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There is plenty of Star Wars-style detail to the environments. You can expect lots of detail in machines and architecture along with imaginative, 3D sci-fi landscapes. Regions that you destroy will still display the damage when you return to them later. There are numerous areas to explore, but you've got to accomplish various missions and meet specific criteria in the form of leveling to gain access to them.

Tabula Rasa screenshot

Combat is served as the main course of this game. And while it may seem somewhat redundant at first glance, there is enough depth to keep any shooter fan satisfied. Now remember, I didn't say RPG fan, I said shooter fan. The RPG elements are here, but they are almost on auto-pilot. The more kills you make, the more experience points you earn. These points will help to upgrade your skills, weapons, and a form of ancient magic known as Logos. You will appreciate that fact that you can get up and running in this game almost immediately with so few choices to make. There are plenty of choices to make later, which demonstrates the developers attention to pacing.

Interestingly, ammo is not unlimited. You'll have to buy it when you run low. This will give you some essence of strategy. It also makes the game a little more realistic. Furthermore, not all weapons will work on all aliens. Some aliens are impervious to some of your projectiles, magic, and skills. So you won't be able to upgrade one super weapon and use it continually. You'll have to experiment with all kinds of weapons, of which there is no shortage. There are various guns, lasers, plasma, and other energy weapons. Magic can be used to make some weapons effective against certain aliens. This has limited applications, but it does come in handy if you only have certain weapons at your disposal, or ammo for them.

Tabula Rasa screenshot

Weapons will be collected throughout the game. Those that you don't find useful may be crafted into more effective weapons. You'll need to locate recipes in order to properly craft these weapons from your inventory. These instructions will cost you precious ability points. The instructions can be confusing, and often the crafting seems to be little more than an added mod to a weapon or armor. It's an interesting concept but not very well executed.

Experience points are awarded for kills; money is awarded for missions accomplished. These missions range from fetch quests to destroying bases. You can go through the game as a lone wolf or join a group. If you join a group, the experience points will be divided among the participants fairly. You'll get more if you go solo, but the risks are also much greater. Loot from fallen enemies is also divided similarly.

Screenshots / Images
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