Cards are people, too.
There are a lot of digital CCGs out there that use the “cards feeding into other cards” formula to great effect. It’s an interesting system of upgrading and enhancing, but it begins to feel like a production line after a while. AtlanticaS changes things up a little bit by treating each card as an individual character, one dimensional though they might be. It doesn’t exactly reinvent the genre, but it adds its own brand of charm to the mix by doing so.
Fantasy creatures, soldiers, “kill this,” “collect that,” even semi-avid gamers know the drill by now. AtlanticaS is about as heavy on the exposition as any other free-to-play CCG, but it makes for a passable backdrop to all the fighting and leveling. The tutorial familiarizes players with all the basics (as well it should); beginning with the acquisition of a few soldiers and ending with some monster slaying. While in town it’s possible to hire more mercenaries (so long as there are no “duplicates” on the team), purchase or forge new equipment, and so on. It’s all fairly typical of most free-to-play games, but once players take to the field with their initially small team things pick up a bit.
AtlanticaS is a pretty game with colorful backgrounds and some pleasant animations when highlighting buildings and such. However it’s the combat that steals the show. After a simple game of “stop the sliding marker on a specific point to get a boost,” the fighting begins. Everything happens automatically without any further player input. Soldiers and enemies take turns attacking each other and the action is animated with a surprising amount of detail. For cards, I mean. It’s really just flat character cards that move around the screen and switch to a second image when attacking, as well as shake and display another image when taking damage, and some additional visual and audio effects to liven things up. Granted it’s not all that impressive when compared to modern console action games, but as a CCG I found it to be rather fun to watch. There’s just something very cool about watching my gunner activate her Wild Shot ability and fill the opposing card full of holes.
It might be because of all the animations and sounds, or because of the rather impressive illustrations that may or may not be displaying at high resolutions, but AtlanticaS‘ loading times are atrocious. I don’t use the word lightly, either. Taking a few seconds to load a battle makes sense. Taking close to twenty to load a character’s inventory screen from the Blacksmith absolutely does not. The game is filled with little stuttering irritations like this. Practically every single time a menu or pop-up transitions into anything else there’s a very noticeable delay. I hate to make such a big deal out of this problem but it’s so prevalent and kills so much momentum it could be a deal breaker for a lot of potential players. I know I’d have given up on it myself after the first ten minutes if it weren’t for my obligation to review it. Yes, it’s that bad.
Of course the reasons for AtlanticaS‘ performance issues could be partially due to Java or web browser problems. The core game is enjoyable enough to brave the obnoxious performance, it just might be too much for some to endure for very long. Still, it’s more than worth a shot for anyone who enjoys well-illustrated CCGs or might be looking for something a little different.