Review By: Mr. Roboto
Version Reviewed: 2.2, aka “Beyond Dome of York”
Year: 2002, 2004
Developed by: Reakktor Media GmBH
Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High
Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High
Rating: 9 out of 10
“By the end of the third millenium, Earth has changed…
Global pollution, excessive wars and a perforated atmosphere have turned the planet into an almost lifeless sphere of toxic mud. Radiation is everywhere and most animals have either gone extinct or have mutated into bizarre monstrous creatures.
The remnants of mankind seek protection from the desolate, scorched world and gathered behind the protective walls of giant cities. These few mega cities became the last lights of hope, in the darkness of Earth’s final dusk…”
Overview: While World of Warcraft has captured the online world’s attention, cyberpunk fans have had their own MMOFPSRPG to explore. Neocron was initially released in 2002, with the current 2.2 originally planed as on add-on but has since become its own game. Featuring a dark, gritty cyberpunk future setting, Neocron is the very definition of the genre as you deal with robots, psychopaths, mega-corporations, drugs, guns, implants, naked chicks, mutants, …, and an intricate political backdrop among the factions in the future city.
The Story (so far): A nuclear war in 2143 wipes out most of humanity, and causes massive tectonic activity that decimates what was left. It would take some 300 years before humanity recovers to the most basic levels, with two cities rising from the ruins: Neocron and the Dome of York. It is now the 28th century, and the last two cities are now in decline; The Dome of York was nearly destroyed in a war with Neocron, while Neocron has had several coups, the most recent has ousted the ruling Psi Monks and installs Lioon Reza as ruler.
You enter the arena of Neocron from MC5, a sort of “proving grounds” where new citizens are tested to see if they are strong enough to become productive. If they survive, they become “runners” and get to be teleported to their apartment where Mr. Jones awaits to give them starter missions to show what their selected career can be like.
The welcoming committee
Career Paths. So many choices to make in Neocron, but some make better sense than others. First off, you need to select a “class,” the main type of person you want to be. The class selection not only determines what type of careers are available, but also how your character develops in the game. GenTanks (Genetically Engineered Human Tanks) are the muscles whose strong bodies and weak brains make them the main guns of Neocron. They can be soldiers, fighters, bodyguards, and even vehicle drivers. The Dexterous spies are not as strong as the Tanks, but they have abilities to be scientists, scouts, drone ops, assassins, and most importantly, HACKERS! The Psi Monks get to develop their psionic skills to become medics, inquisitors, and preachers. They can even use their intelligence to take up a spy-type job since their physical abilities don’t develop as fast. For the Private Eye, the world is their oyster. They can follow any career path they want, but since their skills don’t develop as well as the specialists, their abilities may not be the best.
The places you will go. Neocron is divided into several areas, with each area having one to four “sectors” in which you will explore and work in. The Plaza is the main area where several factions have headquarters and even recruiting offices. Plaza-1 is the main gathering place for players, especially in the Medicare building.
Via Rosso is the high-rent district of Neocron. Some of the corporate factions have headquarters here, including the Neocron City Police. This seaside view shows why the rent is high.
Neocron’s red-light district is Pepper Park. Here is where players can find plenty of “entertainment,” from the various clubs to NeoFrag, the deathmatch game-within-the-game. Also, several criminal factions have headquarters here.
On the outskirts, there are the Industrial Areas and Outzone. These areas are mostly abandoned and devoid of life, but beware of some crazies who will take pot-shots at you if they don’t like your faction.
This is the main gate from Neocron, the exit to the wastelands beyond the city walls. There are outposts, mutants, and some anti-city factions out there, not to mention the Dome of York.
Hacknet - the playground of the 1337 hacker. One who is skilled enough can travel between different areas of Neocron… and beyond. The best ones can find valuable data other players can use.
Patience is a virtue. There is so much to learn about in Neocron that one needs to be patient to learn them. The main thing is learning how to distribute their skill points appropriately for their career. Players may also want to use some skill points for “tradeskills” such as implanting, construction, and recycling. I’ve seen so many requests for construction and implanting (”poking” in gamespeak) that I’m considering implanting as a main tradeskill, though I’ve already attributed some to recycling. If you want to prepare or educate yourself for Neocron, I’d suggest checking TechHaven and NeoTerm along with the official site. They have FAQs and guides to help you in your career, and forums where you can ask for advice.
Another reason for patience is due to some bugs in the game, and not just the ones in the sewers. Reports of items disappearing is the most common, though it hasn’t happened to myself. The main problem I’ve had, other than pulling myself away or encountering creatures I’m not strong enough to deal with, is “fatal program error.” Probably a connection problem I need to look into. Other than that, not many technical problems.
Conclusion: Neocron has that certain potential to be a Warcraft killer, though it is certainly a cult-favorite at best. Makes me wish I was hacking and poking around Neocron 1 when it came out. I’m glad to have had a chance to do my stuff with 2.2 and would like be there for 3.0. Even so, I do need to pull away to some more reviews here… must… log… out… of … Neo… cron…