I finally got a shot at Defiance just recently--it was Spring Break for many of the area high schools, so that played utter hob with game rentals--but I was certainly looking forward to trying what was being described as a major move for not only Xbox players but console players in general.
This actually represents one of the first console-based MMOs, and I was eager to see how well it would work. But my eagerness had to be tempered by sheer reality, as getting Defiance to run was no walk in the park.
My time in Defiance was fraught with delay. First there was the installation cycle, which was supposed to last about 18 minutes but finished up much sooner than that, taking maybe only ten minutes. But then came the EULA, a massive wall of text written in clear lawyer, and then after that the patch
, which required another 35 minutes. A patch after that patch, meanwhile, took a little over a minute. When the patch after that one hit, meanwhile, I was beginning to wonder if I was playing a game or restoring a set of pants from Goodwill because this took a lot of patches.
It got to the point where I questioned the logic of even playing this game at all. I had sat through an installation cycle, a horrendous EULA written in the most ridiculous lawyer-babble I'd ever seen, and then three different patches. It took better than an hour to go from putting the disc in the 360 to actually playing the game. By the time the optimizing cycle hit I was beginning to see why Elvis
shot that television.
But when they promised a load of free goodies in exchange for the waiting, I was admittedly cheered. There's nothing quite like free bennies following a long string of unpleasant; it makes you feel like you've earned your treat. And a treat it certainly was. I had actually been an MMO player back in the long-distant past; I was a level 41 dwarf hunter in World of Warcraft back in the plain-vanilla days when getting to level 41 actually at least kind of meant something. After a while, though, it got to feel like a part-time job that I wasn't getting paid for. But Defiance was different. That strange mix of Warcraft and Mass Effect
was oddly interesting, at least in the beginning. I got the feeling that if I kept going for a while, I'd get that old "why am I doing this again?" feeling back, but for a weekend, it was terrific.
Defiance was fun. I was actually surprised by how much fun it really was. Whether that fun could continue for any length of time was unclear, but it didn't take away from the fact that this game was fun. At least it was for the couple of days I had it, which admittedly only says so much. Still though, fairly exciting gameplay, an interesting storyline, and the it's-never-not-fun situation of being able to jump a four-wheeler off things at will between bouts of shooting mutated horrors added up to a game that made a good rental if nothing else.
In fact, I'm left hopeful that more MMOs will make their way to consoles. Give me a little more variety in the experience, make it worth my while to keep that Xbox Live Gold membership and maybe we'll be at the dawn of something truly exciting. Otherwise, Defiance will be left to serve as a footnote, a case study in what might have been.