If you have played Everquest before, you know the game can be like a form of crack. And I don't me the crack you sit on. It is highly addictive and you just can't bring yourself to stop playing. If you thought the game was huge before, wait until you purchase the new add-on "The Ruins of Kunark". With the new continent comes a hoard of new weapons, armour, specialty items, and generally a bunch of kick ass stuff. The main continents are flooded with auctions for Kunark gear; it has basically taken over the market. Your once valuable item, which took you forever to "camp" for, has now dropped a few notches on the desirable scale.

With that fact aside, the add-on adds much to an already fun and high addictive game. Having a whole new continent really helps address the overcrowding problem that was rearing its ugly head. With so many new subscribers, it was becoming difficult to find enemies to fight. Kunark also adds the ability to play a new type of race, the Iksar. This new lizardmen race are able to be Monks (previously the only other race that could be monks were humans), shamans, warriors, shadowknights, and Necromancers. They also have some innate abilities which make them a bit more attractive such as: Infravision (helps with your night vision), regeneration (increases your natural healing ability), and a high starting swimming ability.

The graphics in Kunark are updated over the original release, they were somewhat limited in what they could updated from the first incarnation due to the system requirements. With the steeper requirements of Kunark, they have added richer textures, swaying trees, footpaths, and further attention to the little things that make it seem even more realistic. Luckily Verant added a user configurable clipping plane, which allows you to turn down the distance at which the graphics are drawn. I am running a 450mhz processor with a TNT2, and when you get to the sections of land that are tree intensive, the swaying motion can bring even the mightiest video cards to a crawl.

Traveling to Kunark can be done by two different means; teleportation or the slow ride on one of the nefarious Everquest boats. When Everquest was in its early stages, you were pretty much forced to ride the boats from continent to continent, as there were few wizards or druids that achieved high enough level to be able to group teleport. Since those earlier days, most of the user base is now mid level (25-35), so acquiring a teleport is a much easier task. Thru no fault of my own, as I am such an experienced player, I was killed and was forced to take the boat back to retrieve my corpse. Out of the 2000 people on the server, I was the only person on the boat. I always thought that Verant should have made the boat rides a little more fun, you know, shops to purchase and sell things from, or maybe a few mini-games of chance, something to pass the time. They did at least improve the travel time, so it is a bit less of a hassle.

There are two boats, which lead to different areas of Kunark. One boat is geared for use by the "evil races", while the other takes you to the "good race" town, High Elf outpost, Firiona Vie. Kunark is geared for higher-level characters; it can not be safely traveled by beginners. While I understand that Verant made it a challenge to make it thru kunark, I would have liked to see something for the lower levels.

The expansion has also pushed the previous level cap of 50 up to 60, and the additional 10 levels are much tougher than any of the previous levels, so you should be kept busy for a long time. With these new levels come new spells for casters and even something called disciplines for melee classes. The disciplines allow a melee class to focus there abilities during combat. You'll need these extra abilities if you plan on fighting in Kunark, as its gotta be the toughest zones in the game to date.

Ruins of Kunark provided exactly what the people wanted, larger, tougher zones with gobs and gobs of unique items. While Ruins is a great edition to the game, people with lower level characters might want to hold off on its purchase. If you decide to give up on the game, you'll be stuck with an add-on pack you'll never get to expierence. Those who have yet to play Everquest, and are considering joining up, it's a great game, with lots of fun to be had, but its more hack 'n slash than role-playing. If you're after a title with a more involved plot line, you may want to try a single-player RPG.