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Have You Played... Anarchy Online?

Still alive

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I’m not sure I even knew what an MMORPG was back in 2001, but when someone told me that Anarchy Online was going to be Deus Ex but where everyone was real, it was the most beautiful sentence I’d ever heard.

You won’t believe what happened next, etc.

That sentence was profoundly wrong in a number of ways, of course – a misrepresentation of the type of sci-fi it employed (it’s alien worlds and big beasties), and of the nature of the world if offered, wherein the key activity was shooting dumb AI rather than meaningful interaction with real people. Never believe that dreams can come true.

I should say, though, that I remember very little of my couple of weeks with Funcom’s MMO, and that the time I did spend with it was during its notorious early days, when technical problems were so rife as to spoil almost every aspect of it now. Its name has lodged in my head as that of an ancient folly, forever broken and long ago abandoned, so it’s a mild surprise to discover now that it went on to redeem itself and is still active to this day. I think I was peripherally aware that it was still putting out expansion packs in the mid-noughties, but by that point the WoW juggernaut had arrived and sucked all up the oxygen in the MMO room.

Still going. A game that was always still going, for the entire time I’ve been a haha professional games critic, and yet I almost entirely ignored it. It’s even worse than a blind spot – it’s a spot filled with a memory of dysfunction that is no longer accurate.

Perhaps I should go back now. It’s free to play, it’s on Steam and some of the screenshots have good things in them. Whatever would I find?

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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