I've mentioned previously that LOTRO is my current pay-to-play MMO of choice. As a lot of my readers would probably already know, Lord of the Rings Online was another title to embark down the "free-to-play" route this year. Trust me, I didn't goof. I maintain my subscription because it's damn convenient and I really like what Turbine has going on over there. At any rate, I decided today I would write a bit about what I'm playing on the F2P side of things and when I started hashing it out in my head, I had a half-blown review on my hands.
|Many, many creatures get harmed during the course of this game.|
In late October, Korean MMO-giant Nexon released Vindictus here in North America. Called Mabinogi Heroes practically everywhere but here, Vindictus serves as a lore prequel for anyone into that sort of thing and this point is really driven home at character creation. As of this writing, only three characters are available: Lann, a dual-wielding dervish of destruction, Fiona, a sword-and-board tank-type character, and Evie, the game's resident wizard/healer/gravity/time lady. You can customize names, physical dimensions, coloring and, for those really interested in jiggle-physics, underwear. There are two more characters in the release pipeline: Karok, a giant of a man who can do some really, really cool things and Kai, a "druid" who will be renamed so many variations of Legolas that whoever decides to roll him up as a character should probably come to terms now with the fact that no one will take them seriously ever.
That's as far as customization goes in the traditional sense. If you're dead-set on a gender, you better like the characters linked to those genders. I don't personally have a problem with this tack. In MMOs, I like to do one of two things: tank, or blow stuff up in dramatically ridiculous ways. I'm secure enough in my masculinity that, for my first character, I went with the latter and selected Evie.
Even for those who like to keep their avatar's genders a little more true-to-life in MMOs, I doubt too many people will have a problem with the current system. That's because while Vindictus IS technically a role-playing game, it has a lot more in common with action games than the genre is typically known for. Sure, there's your staple elements of crafting and story (a surprising amount of the latter considering the game is, indeed, a free-to-play effort), but you'll quickly find out (and Nexon has no problem promoting the fact) that Vindictus is all about the combat in a way the genre-savvy haven't seen in a long time.
|Whatever you're about to ask, the answer is probably yes.|
Simply put, Vindictus is a glorified beat-'em-up. My kneejerk reaction at first was to call the game's style hack-and-slash but that conjures up too many images of Diablo, Torchlight, and their related ilk to be useful. The closest game I'd say Vindictus resembles is Phantasy Star Online and even that's a bit of a stretch. Combat is conducted in real-time. In the default setup, you'll be left-clicking for basic melee attacks, right-clicking for stronger "Smash" attacks, and using a standard assortment of hot-keys for basically everything else. Players can grab opponents, drag them over to a wall that they slam them into before finishing them off with a satisfying kick, potentially shattering portions of the environment which can then be lifted and turned into makeshift weaponry in turn. Stray attacks can and will topple pillars which can then harm enemies and players alike by way of falling debris. This sort of dynamic battlefield squarely puts the fun in functional interactivity, allowing the players to creatively conduct carnage in ways that, no matter how many times you run through the same area, serve to never allow the game to grow stale.
There are quests. There are memorable NPCs. You can construct weapons out of the broken rare item drops of the foes you best. Make no mistake about it though: it's the combat that will keep you coming back over and over again.
|...and over, and over, and over, and over again.|
Were this a proper review site, I'd go into much greater depth about how easy it is to find groups, how the dungeon progression is structured, or detail the process of selecting challenges before each mission to earn points to unlock bigger and better missions and encounters (and so on, and so on). It's not really something I have the space for. Instead, I offer you this: a solid recommendation. Vindictus is free and you have nothing but time to lose. Go download it or something!