Woohoo, it's Wushu! Excellent, I have fulfilled my dumb joke quota in the first line. Now then, come reverently kneel in the dojos of intrigue. Age of Wushu, you see, might look like a typical MMO with high-flying wuxian trappings, but - at least, on paper - it actually sounds far more daring than that. Case in point: kidnapping. When you log off, your character stays in the world as an NPC. Said NPC can actually be kidnapped by other players, which I imagine will either prove cinder-block-choppingly infuriating or absolutely hilarious. Wushu also makes bold claims about being sandbox-y, pointing to systems for bounties, crime and imprisonment, random emergent PVP, a level-free advancement system, and more. Be warned, however: it also sounds dauntingly complicated, and F2P doesn't help matters. See what I mean - first in the form of a gentle, open-palmed video and then with harsh, skull-wobbling words - after the break.
That combat actually looks rather enjoyable, which is something I really, really, really wish I could say about more MMOs. But OK, what about everything else? How does it all fit together? Well, uhhhhhhhhhhhh:
"There are 17 life skills that fall into four categories: Gathering, which includes Miner, Hunter, Farmer, Woodcutter and Fisher; Manufacturing, which includes Tailor, Chef, Poison Maker, Craftsman, Blacksmith and Herbalist; Arts, which include Musician, Chess Master, Calligrapher and Painter; Market, which brings up Beggar and Diviner. Careers are practiced and gradually mastered via in-game events and quests."
"In order to restore the true mastering process of learning, there is a cap for the amount you can learn every day."
Now, logging out and leaving behind a ghostly shell of yourself in the game world allows you to accrue bonus XP, but only if you're a paying VIP player. Plus, you apparently have to log-in and log-out pretty frequently to keep the process going. So that's all pretty yucky.
Age of Wushu still sounds jam-packed with potential, but the sour-faced fun police guarding all the exits certainly have me wary. Has anyone given this a go? Are the caveats as bad as they sound? I love the idea of an MMO that proudly does its own thing, World of Warcrafts of the (non-Warcraft) world be damned, but I'm only willing to pay so much. And if the price, ultimately, is my good time, well, I imagine I'll be taking my fists of fury (not to mention my feet of even-tempered restraint and a willingness to compromise) elsewhere.