We previously posted about Mark's first journal, where he also released a video. Now his second journal is out and it's far longer and includes a couple of screenshots. No video this time, though.
Imagine this: you've never watched Lord of the Rings trilogy before, since you live in Antarctica. One day you miraculously find a copy in the frozen remains of a dead penguin except it's in a language you can't understand. You watch it anyway and are astounded by the visuals, the action, and the music! How could you not be? They filmed it in New Zealand, one of the most pristine and unique inhabited environments in the whole world, the had top-notch actors and stuntmen, and the visual effects team were pros!
That's pretty much how I feel when playing Aion's Korean CBT3. I'm sorely missing out on the story, but Aion's "everything else" is so polished I can forgive it. The landscapes and soundtrack are amazing, the monster design too. Little details are everywhere and I don't miss a single one, though some of you more "hardcore" people probably will overlook them all. Let me make a little list...
First, this gigantic tree right after the first outpost, it's amazingly beautiful and the music that accompanies it is also. At night it glows. During the short "daytime" the water around it glows too. Judging by the incredible amount of life surrounding it, flora and fauna, I'd say it may be sustaining the local ecosystem all by itself. Detail? This is it, folks. Pay close attention to everything you see and you'll notice these things.
Second, the next zone's (forest) music will inspire you to pick up a banjo or flute and learn how to play it. It sports kangaroo/mountain-goat hybrids and lots of randomly spawned vegetation for you to practice your gathering skills on. Also, more details: ladders leaning up against trees, the same trees oozing fluorescent green sap you see in buckets in other areas (it must serve some purpose), lights hanging from trees, a sign with no names pointing the way on the path over a bridges, a tree growing out of the remains of a ruin, et cetera, et cetera.
The zone after that is more eerie and home to the second bindpoint (or third, if you count the newbie spawn as a bind point) but not a full-fledged town. Here you get more quests and even take on some Asmodian pirates who've made their home on a deathly beautiful "ghost ship". Now you have a choice to make: explore the Mau area (and run into a dead end, like I did) or go to the graveyard area and become a Daeva.
As you can tell, I'm not alone thinking that Aion is quite amazing and well designed, not to mention that you can really tell how NCsoft is focusing on getting even the smallest details right. They're also not afraid to keep delaying their game -- this is their baby and new flagship title.
Expect a English beta of Aion sometime this year. Exciting times.