|COME ON MORGANT MY FUZZY CHEST DEMANDS AN ANSWER|
Certainly not my first MMORPG, but one of my favorites, is Mabinogi. A Korean game based on Celtic mythology, Mabinogi explores a world filled with monsters called Fomors and their war against the humans. Battle your way through the world as a human, elf, or giant; mage, archer, melee warrior, or alchemist; become a holy paladin or dark knight, and eventually become a god in this vast and ever-growing game. However, while having a wide and varied list of things you can do in this game, its over-expansion leads to some serious downfalls. It's clear that Nexon puts its best developers to work at cranking out new features while letting older and considerably more broken features lay to waste at the expense of their customers. Not to mention the notorious reputation the company that runs the game, Nexon, has with its customers... But every game has its flaws, right?
I hate being superficial. I really do. But honestly? Graphics are the first impression a game has on you, and can (sometimes) be telling of the game quality itself, or at least telling of the amount of effort that was put into the game.
As far as graphics go, Mabinogi is a mixed bag. Take a look at the screenshot above. The drawn character design is phenomenal, and it's easy to see that there's some pretty talented artists on the other end. But contrast with the CGI... While graphics are older, and the newer graphics are very much improved, this is generally the quality you're greeted with when you first begin playing. Better than some, worse than many others; it's not very appealing at all. And yes, it's a bit of a daunting task to go back through and fix up every cut scene they made, you'd think that DevCat would re-render some key scenes to make it look nicer. It takes a bit of a bite out of the final climatic moments to have some chunky looking pixelated character clunking about your screen. Not to mention the large amount of glitches in the game. I have an assortment of various screenshots of glitches here and there that I'll upload later.
There is also a considerable amount of text lag, enough to make a decent chunk of the population to mod the game to fix this.
Truly, this is one of the game's stronger points. It's easy to tell a LOT of effort went into this area.
As mentioned before, you get to pick one of three races: Human, Elf, or Giant. Your first character is free to make, but if you want an alt, you'll have to pay to buy one. Of course, there is the old standby EXP that lets you level up. Levels 1-30 is a walk in the park, but anything beyond this will require you to "rebirth--" that is, restart your character at Level 1. Don't be alarmed at the thought of having to constantly restart, though! This is actually quite helpful, because instead of gaining true strength through leveling, your strength comes from ability points (AP) that you gain with each and every level. You spend these points on various skills, whether it be a melee skill, a life skill (AKA Professions), or magic skills. Eventually your character can learn alchemy, although it's best to focus on one of the other schools of skills first.
Each skill has 15 levels, slowly gaining strength until you master it to its full potential. As you level up your skills, it will add permanent stat boosts to your character, and will remain with you even after you rebirth. So the point is to keep leveling, rebirthing, and leveling some more until you can fully max out your desired skills.
Mastering a skill is also more complicated than simply pressing a button and instantly having the new ability. You also have to train a skill, which to me adds a level of accomplishment to finally mastering something. It takes a good amount of time, but you can train skills while questing, dungeoning, and doing storyline quests, so it's not too much of a drawback.
At first, the monsters are incredibly easy to train against, but eventually as you become stronger, the monsters become exponentially more difficult to train against. Dungeoning, however, provides an easy way to train and level up, as even entering a weak or lower level dungeon will always reward experience points. The introduction of shadow missions also gave another easier alternative to grinding against monsters, so leveling after rebirthing is much easier now.
This has only scratched the surface of what you can do in Mabinogi. There are so many skills out there, you can level over a thousand times and not complete a school of skills. As far as its endless opportunities in its gameplay, it's one of my favorite MMOs out there.
Although this area is usually one of the biggest draws for me, this is one of the weaker areas of the game. The storylines themselves are, in the beginning, riddled with cliches, and it's easy to tell where the twists and turns will lead you. It's a rare moment when you're caught by surprise, but that doesn't make some parts of it unenjoyable. So why do them?... Why, it's simple.
The glorious, glorious rewards. This game rewards you VERY WELL for doing the storyline (compared to World of Warcraft, for example, where the best loot is usually found in dungeons or PvP). The best abilities, enchants, and some of the best items in the game are all found in the storyline. Of course, this means that eventually most of the best players are somewhat identical... But considering the amount of effort and strength that it takes to complete them, most have only beaten four storylines (out of nine total). So take what you will from this.
Community and PVP
There is absolutely no point to PvPing in Mabinogi. You aren't rewarded for it, unless you consider randomly attacking someone who forgot to turn it off and annoying them til they snap a reward. If that's the case, then by all means, PVP. Even if you're not looking for a reward, this really isn't a good community to PVP in. Many PVPers go overboard and camp your fallen body. And because of the way the screen blacks out when you die, it is impossible to turn PVP off until you revive. So when you go to pull up the screen to turn PVP off.. Oops! You're dead again. Many of the more heartless PVPers really don't care about it, either. Some guilds even cater to that. But ah, well.
The economy is also very, very broken. But I credit this mostly to the changes Mabinogi made to its paid service program, so I'll get into it later.
As far as the rest of the community goes, aside from your botters and scammers (who are usually very obvious), Mabinogi is alright compared to others. A little filled with elitists, but I've been some truly awesome people through the guilds I've been in. Most people who come on Mabinogi do it to interact with other people and friends, so you're likely to make friends if you play it right and don't make an ass out of yourself.
Once upon a time, there was a company named Nexon. They did not charge people to create their first character, but what you could do without paying for what they called their "Premium Services" back in the day was very limited. Then, one day they made the storylines available to those that did not pay for services, and it was good. Then, they gave you a free rebirth every three weeks, and that was good too!
Then they took away the best parts of the paid service: the part that gave you a free in-game item, and the one that let you revive on the spot with no penalties three times a day, and then extras if you wait every in-game day. Because they removed the first part, those items skyrocketed in price. People could no longer sell these items on the game economy, and gold became scarce. LOGICALLY, you'd think that if gold became scarce, a reverse inflation would go into place. But when you take into account that most of the people who play this game are on the younger, more immature side, you have to remember that they're more likely to get greedy and jack up the prices to earn their gold that way.
No one's exactly sure why this was done. But the premium service they have right now is pretty good, it's just a let down after playing with the original one. It's worth getting if you have the money, but wait until you're really attached to the game to pay for it. You get a free trial until you hit level 30, so that's actually a nice preview of what you'd get.
Grade: B, because if you started the game after the update, the paid services are still worth it.
If you start playing the game and hit a rough patch of lag, notice a scammer, or fall victim to harassment in-game, and seek help from the company, you will certainly notice the game's greatest flaw:
There is a major disconnect between Nexon and its consumers.
Recently, Nexon started a thread on their forums that asked people to tell them what the biggest bugs they should fix were, and lots of people didn't really know how to react. That in itself is telling of the disconnect, because if they even had in-game moderators playing, they would know what the bugs are themselves. And more often than not, when you report a bug and open a ticket, you won't be able to talk to an actual person on the other end, and instead are greeted by an auto-generated response.
Grade: F. Even if they are starting to improve, it doesn't change the fact that many players still don't completely trust Nexon.
This game has several game breaking flaws, but it's hard to deny how friggin fun it is to play. I certainly don't encourage putting your money into it until you're thoroughly addicted, considering some of the bugs, graphics, or the way Nexon treats its customers turns you off (and you really won't need to until you become a higher level player and perhaps want a pet or more bank space). But should you turn down playing it for free? I dunno about that. It's certainly worth a try at least. If you hate it, just uninstall it and kick it out of your harddrive!
Overall Grade: C
Human Mage on the Alexina Server