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Posted by Raine Hutchens on Jul 6, 2011

Review – Vindictus (PC)

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Mention the name Nexon, and most people will think of Combat Arms, or Maple Story, simply because those are the biggest Nexon titles that have large player bases. Most of Nexon’s games are cute, and offer some anime-like art styles to them that just don’t sit well with many older gamers. That soon changed when the company announced Vindictus – their newest Free-To-Play MMO. Vindictus runs off of the Source Engine from Valve, and it is not your average Nexon title. After playing for some time, I decided to gather my thoughts and review my playthrough so far.

Story and Presentation

Vindictus is set as a prequel to another Nexon game called Mabinogi. In fact, outside of North America the game is simply known as Mabinogi Heroes. It takes place hundreds of years before the events in Mabinogi, during what is known as the Fumor Wars. During the war, humanity is fighting off against the Fumors, which are essentially monstrous humanoid creatures filled with pure evil. The main storyline is told through Episodes, each of which has their own background and plot. Throughout the episodes, players will choose a character and lead him/her to glory, becoming a hero and saving the world from the Fumor terrors.

Most of the story is told through player-NPC interaction. Each interaction is marked by artistic depictions of each character, which look amazing. That’s the one thing to note about this MMO, it looks nothing like any other MMO title out there. When I loaded it up, I was extremely surprised at what I saw. I really expected there to be a “enter payment selection” screen, though one never met me.

From the unique character creation, to the vastly detailed world, Vindictus never ceased to amaze me. I found myself telling everyone I knew about it, just to see their reactions. Nexon really broke the mold with this title, and it looks nothing like anything else they’ve produced. The company ditched the chibi, anime style and adopted a more realistic, in-your-face art style which has its own set of moods and undertones. Simply put, it’s a game that’s grown-up.

Getting Started and Continuing Gameplay

From the beginning, players are thrown into a world that is easily captivating. Players will choose from one of four (originally there were three, and a fifth is coming) characters: Fiona – a sword and shield-wielding, balanced knight, Lann – a dual-wielding master of combat, Evie – a shrouded mage who excels at area-of-effect combat, and Karok – an unstoppable force that slings large pillars and hammers to crush his enemies. The fifth character is set to be an archer, and his name is Kai.

Once players choose their character they are introduced to the game via a prologue episode that will teach them the ways of the game’s combat system. In the episode, the characters are rookies in a militia force tasked with bringing down a large arachnid-like monster terrorizing the town. Once players gain control of their characters, the real fight begins.

Using the normal W-A-S-D format, players control their character’s movement with the keyboard, and the camera with the mouse. Of course, this can be changed in the options menu. Using the mouse players can have their characters attack and use special abilities. It’s much more of an action-based combat system, unlike other MMOs out there that bind attacks to the keyboard. This is the backbone of Vindictus, as it’s really a hack-and-slash MMO title.

The only issue with this combat system is that it does have a tendency to get repetitive. However, that is the case with most hack-and-slash games, so it’s expected to some extent. Also, as with most titles of the genre, this is one gory game. It’s nothing like Mortal Kombat gory, though it’s got its own share of bloodshed. That’s another reason why this game isn’t for children.

Once players get acquainted with the controls, a boss battle is right ahead. Fighting through the tower, players eventually meet the arachnid beast face to mandibles. At this point it’s fight or die, and you’ve got to give it all you have in order to survive. Throughout the fight (and through other combat) you will drain your fatigue bar. Dodging, attacking, carrying heavy objects, and throwing objects will drain the bar, which will require you to take a break to let it refill. This is a great way of adding strategy to the game, because players will need to make the right moves in battle or they’ll suffer.

So the boss battle ends, and a cinematic rolls. Shortly after that, it’s character creation time. The character creation feature in Vindictus, though not very deep, is exceptional. Players choose hairstyles, eyebrow styles, eye color, outfits, poses, skin color, and more when creating their character. This is nice because it doesn’t limit everyone to the same character, rather it provides templates to work from. After choosing a name, it’s time for the real game to begin.

Progression

Players progress through Vindictus by picking up quests from different NPCs in the world. Starting out, some basic quests are delivered through the Mercenary Outpost, just to get players acquainted with the system. You’ll enter the building, and a conversation between your character and an NPC will begin. Through dialogue, you will learn more about the story, as well as what is expected of you in certain situations. One issue with this system is that when speaking to NPCs, they’re usually nothing more than still portraits. There isn’t any spoken dialogue, which can bore some players. The game does try to keep players intrigued, however, with deep dialogue and a rich approach to the storyline. After picking up quests, it’s time to head to the docks.

Once at the docks, players will see a giant board that acts as a quest hub. From here, players can choose from the quests they have available, and assemble parties to complete them. You’re a solo player? No problem. You can set the party to invite-only and tackle the quest all by yourself. It’s just good to know that the option is there to enjoy playing with some friends, and it’s a great way to meet new people. That is, because players can join other parties that are being formed. This way you won’t have to go it alone.

When choosing from your available quests, there are special honor challenges that accompany them. Completing these challenges earns more XP, special items, or more currency. Once you are selected and set, you’re ready to undergo the quest. After selecting all of your options, you’re taken to a boat where players can meet up, purchase items, check mail, and get ready to head to the dungeon. Once ready, players set sail to whatever location the particular quest is in.

Quests are usually held in dungeons, which are different maps among the Vindictus world. Some maps range from perilous ruins, to wide-open forests. Some quests recycle the same area, so this can get a bit annoying. What I’ve found so far is that the quest usually follows this format: go here, get all the way to the end of the dungeon, beat this guy, take an item he drops, end quest. I mean it’s not that bad, but some variety would be nice.

Players are also introduced to the inventory system through completing quests. There are some items players can use, others are of no value, and some can be broken down into parts that can be used to craft usable items later on. It’s quite a lengthy system, though it’s not as confusing as it sounds. By speaking to other players and NPCs, you can get the jest of what you need to do in order to pick up better gear and weaponry.

One issue that used to exist for many players was what’s known as a “token system.” This system basically limited the number of high-level quests that could be done per day. With this in place, many players were upset and eventually started to complain. Through seeing players’ complaints and posts on the game’s official forum, this system was removed, and now players have no limit on how many of these high-level quests they can do per day. This made the game much more open and friendly to hardcore players.

Conclusion

Through my time playing Vindictus, I really enjoyed it. I haven’t hit the level cap, and I am still exploring the game’s vast world. I can say, that for a F2P MMO, Vindictus has to be the best-looking game out there right now. Nexon really outdid themselves with this title, and they continue to amaze fans the world over with new updates and features to the game. Vindictus has a very loyal and large player base, and I am easily becoming one in their ranks. I urge you to check out Vindictus for yourself, as I really doubt you’ll be disappointed.

The Good

  • amazing visuals, looks nothing like any other Free-To-Play MMO
  • interactive environments
  • simple co-op play, extremely enjoyable
  • intuitive combat system
  • token system has been removed

The Bad

  • still continuing to add content, so not too much is available
  • gameplay can become a bit stale after a short period of time, if you’re not used to this type of game
  • some environments are reused, making it possible for the game to become dull after a while

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