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IFA 2015 Review: A first timer speaks

Do you remember the first time? An IFA virgin shares his experiences. 

This year was the first time I’d played IFA, so I thought I’d share some initial impressions. IFA, in case you haven’t heard, is a long-running MMOPRG set in Berlin. It’s been going since 1924 and draws players from all corners of the globe.

First of all, let me say that the graphics are incredibly photorealistic and detailed. Audio is similarly lifelike. I know literally everyone else’s review will touch on this, but when the presentation is this good, the sense of immersion this breathtaking, it would be remiss not to at least mention it.

But how does it actually play? To borrow the wise words of CITV’s Andy Crane, it’s not about the graphics, it’s the gameplay that matters. 

IFA is a sandbox-type RPG with hundreds of side quests. These are mostly of a fetch and carry nature, which would quickly become boring were it not for the puzzling nature of the main arena itself – a sprawling multilayered staggerplex which adds a fiendish extra layer of challenge. Good luck finding die badenzimmer!

The main resource of the game is WiFi. This is like mana/psi/magicka – it’s a finite commodity that lets you unlock the most powerful and impressive abilities at your disposal, depending on your level and experience.

While supplies are seemingly abundant, the sources themselves are unstable and prone to not working. This is, we’re told, due to the huge demand players place on servers. It’s possible to use IAPs to buy some and you can also bring your own to the party if your service provider allows it. Whatever you do, prepare to manage your time wisely; WiFi is really good at never being around when you need it at IFA.

Like all good RPGs there’s a choice of character classes. From talking to other players, it seems like the most popular classes are JOURNALIST, PRESS OFFICER and VIDEO EDITOR but there’s other, more high-end roles including CHIEF ENGINEER, CTO and HEAD OF PRODUCTS. These latter classes are only really for serious players. Consequently, you don’t tend to encounter as many. You have to admire their dedication to the game, which affords you the option to build your own shrine.

The Sony, LG, Huawei and Harman ones were particularly impressive, but there’s plenty of smaller ones, all worthy of your attention. Keep an eye out for strange creates like this cannulated Android, found lurking at Philips’s shrine. Though intimidating, I stopped it in its tracks by uttering the words of power ‘Juliet Bravo’ (NSFW)

There’s lots to do and see and if you want to get the most out of it, it’s worth forming or joining a guild prior to arrival. 

Regrettably, mainly due to WiFi issues, I failed to install the famous Harry’s Bar DLC. Like Skyrim‘s Dragonborn, this takes you out of the main arena itself into a different, self-contained story and (I’m told) provides an amusing distraction to the main events. Players can get a bit absorbed with this particular side quest, which can leave them unwilling to return to the central narrative.

Would I play it again? Undoubtedly. Popping my IFA cherry was quite something. It was strange and painful at times but I’d definitely do it again.


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