(I was interested in the game previews etc. but I don't buy ANYTHING at launch any more. I've been burned many times but Master of Orion III was so anticipated and turned out to be so terrible, it was the last game I bought without reading reviews from real people.)
Eventually a lot of people online were saying that the latest patches made the game quite playable and fun, so I bought in and started playing.
Playing as a marksmen was a great hybrid of Diablo and Doom, with extensive weapon customization. I built a fire damage gun, a gun with hilariously overpowered damage bonuses agains demons, a %nova Nanodyne Ballistics Cannon...
As much as I loved the Diablo games, they never quite exercised the same hold on me as Hellgate. I'd always stayed away from MMOs lest I become a raving addict, and of course that's what happened. It's silly, but I enjoyed having a kickass char in Normal difficulty, which inspired me to build a really powerful Elite character who could run endgame content with some of the most obsessive players on the server.
When killing stuff got a little dull the social aspect kept me playing, the desire to get just a little more powerful so I could hang with the top players.
And so I spent the spring and summer playing Hellgate every available moment. I didn't shirk my obligations, the bills still got paid and the lawn still got mowed, but Hellgate consumed ALL my leisure time. Frankly, grinding in a good MMO is far more interesting and rewarding then the boring grind of my everyday life.
Financial troubles dogged the game all along, and it was no shock when they announced the servers would go offline Jan 31/2009. I played for a couple more days, but burned out almost immediately, no point earning more items that were fated for the bit bucket.
If the game hadn't failed I'd be playing it right now instead of typing this. By now I'd have maxed out my elite beacon/multishot MM and started building my striker, or maybe the mobility/shields/armour evoker? Whatever, I'm sure my addiction wouldn't have cured itself.
But quitting Hellgate made me much more productive the last few months. I cleaned up a lot of nagging little jobs, trivial stuff had been piling up for months, if you let it pile up long enough...
I got back into the game this week, had one last fling with all my chars before the sun sets. I enjoyed Hellgate, and I'm sad to see it go. But I recognize that it wasn't good for me, and I'll never touch another MMO.
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