In Sparkplay Media's massively multiplayer role-playing game Earth Eternal, players control animal races with four potential classes—powerful Knights, stealthy Rogues, bow-wielding Druids and Mages. Like many massively multiplayer role-playing games, players complete quests to get money and equipment, as well as to become stronger. What separates Earth Eternal from most other MMOs is that it's a fully 3D game playable in a browser (although it's Windows-only for now; a Mac version is in development).
Another thing that makes Earth Eternal stand out is that there are no humans, elves, fairies, or any other stereotypical fantasy creatures in its world. Most characters are animals: anything from cats to frogs to foxes to birds. But underneath this intriguing veneer is play that should be very familiar to anyone who's spent time with World of Warcraft. Point-and-click combat with auto-attacking? Check. Class trainers? Check. Penalties for dying (in Earth Eternal's case, lowered health points for a specific period of time)? Check. While I saw nothing interesting or original in the gameplay, that may be the point: Earth Eternal makes the MMORPG experience available to players who may not have the money or the inclination to mess with base prices and subscription fees. (There is a Credit Shop, where players can spend real money on in-game items, however).
Although I can't say I was impressed with Earth Eternal, for a free World of Warcraft clone, it's pretty good at what it does. There was some lag—most noticeably between an enemy running out of hit points and actually dying—but wasn't a gamebreaker and may be due to the not-ironed-out state of previews or my not-exactly-top-of-the-line machine. But Earth Eternal is a 3D MMORPG that you don't have to pay for. It does what it does decently enough.
But then a friend introduced her to the seedy underworld of the Mario brothers and she spent her saved-up birthday and Christmas money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Her mom didn't like the Nintendo at first, but The Legend of Zelda changed her mind. (When Tera got Zelda II: The Adventure of Link one Christmas, she suspected it was as much for her mother as for her).
Though she graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2002 and recently learned how to find the movie theater restroom by herself, Tera still loves video games. Far from being a brain-rotting waste of time, they've helped her practice spatial skills and discover new passions. Her love of games like Kid Icarus and The Battle of Olympus led to a degree in Classical Languages and Literatures. She thinks games have a place in discussions on disability and other cultural issues, and is excited to work with the like-minded staff at GameCritics.com.