Conceptually speaking, Fury should be fantastic. It meets all the criteria by which a good game can be measured, from the slick Unreal 3 game engine, the fast PvP gameplay, free online access, to the hordes of RPG-orientated spells and abilities all wrapped up in a mythical fantasy world. Think World of Warcraft "battlegrounds" crossed with Quake III Arena, and perhaps a touch of Titan Quest and you're starting to get close to seeing the potential for this PvP MMORPG.

From the very start, however, this game smacks of amateurism. In order to even play the game, I had to download a 480MB patch. This in itself is usually a good thing, as you get the impression the developers haven't just released the game into the wild without any ongoing support. The impression I got after downloading the initial 480MB patch, followed by a 120MB patch, followed by an 80MB patch inexplicably in German, was somewhat different. The patch installer crashed repeatedly, and the launch console would sometimes fail to identify my hardware for reasons only known to itself.

Once the game was actually running, the first challenge that greets you is overcoming the tutorial. It's not a steep learning curve by any measure, but the array of spells, buffs and magic points are completely overwhelming and totally unnecessary. Once you've grown weary of swinging your sword against the target dummies and guessing which spell you're supposed to be using now (which you will, quickly) you can progress to a kind of lobby where you can spend as much time as you like clicking on NPC's that all seem to have the same purpose.

The tutorial suggests that these NPCs will provide you with the magical gifts required to defeat others in combat, and to be fair they do, but most of the abilities you have or can gain appear to be extremely similar and largely redundant. On the positive side there's little or no "cool down" for these abilities, which promotes quick combat, but as a result there seems to be little or no point in getting tactical. Once you've entered the battle arena you tend to find yourself running around stabbing buttons frantically, attempting to target anything and looking to see if you're actually participating. It's not always obvious, as the status log that scrolls though every action you take also includes every action every other person on the server makes, and there appears to be no way to limit it to yourself.

As you're playing the game, you can take some time away from being totally owned by everyone else on the server and admire the scenery. Indeed, it really is a work of wonder, and years from now people will still gaze in awe, and contemplate silently how in the hell they managed to get the Unreal 3 engine to look so bad. I can only imagine how the developers of Fury felt when they previewed BioShock and saw what the Unreal 3 engine should produce. Perhaps that's how they named their game.

You won't be looking at the same scenery for too long, however, as the lag will randomly teleport you from one place to another. Between bashing numbers to activate spells on your keyboard, trying to target a fast moving enemy with your mouse, and cursing after you've been dropped in the middle of a group of players who don't care that you're a newbie, Fury cannot be described as dull.

If you manage to make it to the end of a round, there is a kind of loot dissemination whereby you sit there for a couple of minutes whilst everyone decides if they want to roll a die for the objects in question. I naturally decided to participate assuming that any loot was better than nothing, however nobody else on the server seemed to agree with me, and I won both items by merit of being the only person still logged on. Not the most worthy victory in computer gaming history, and only really raises issues regarding the relevance of said loot in this game.

I really wanted to like this game. I wanted to be able to report that it was only a matter of time before legions of World of Warcraft players abandoned their battleground instances in favour of Fury, or perhaps that Blizzard was in negotiation to buy this small Australian developer for millions simply to take advantage of its revolutionary PvP concept. Unfortunately this is patently not the case. What should have been fantastic instead resembles something you'd find in a beta stage as a mod for an existing title. There is only one way that this game will ever really take off, and that is if the developers push out patches immediately to drastically alter the game mechanics, to remove the clutter and simplify the combat, and at least try to take advantage of what the game engine can provide. I will be following the changes made over the next few months, because the developers have been proactive in recognising and addressing various issues to date, but in the meantime this one will stay on the shelf.