by: William Usher
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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Nexon and devCat have brought North American gamers something truly unique and unlike anything else on PC or the Xbox 360 and PS3.
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Madness? This Is Vindictus!
Nexon and devCat went for a really big goal with Vindictus, the free-to-play, physics-based action RPG. The game not only contains the qualities and production values of a triple-A console title, but it also manages to house the fun and aesthetics that separates itself from just about every other MMO title out there. In fact, the only game it shares any remote connection with would probably be Tecmo Koei’s recent MMO iteration of Dynasty Warriors Online.
Vindictus is certainly a console-worthy MMO that breaks many of the genre’s bad habits and creates a truly unique environment in which players can literally interact and have fun in ways previously unheard of in most other MMORPGs. Find out what else the game does differently in this Vindictus review.
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There’s usually a balance between a game’s concept and execution that oftentimes plays hosts to the biggest drawbacks for a game. In the case of Vindictus, the concept is neither simple nor overly complex. It’s a steady take on the action-RPG genre fused with the massive multiplayer paradigm that sees any kind of player teaming with another player to either kick butt for the heck of it or to progress their character’s story.
Surprisingly enough, because of the way the game is setup players are sort of forced to team-play more often than the typical theme park or open world MMORPG. In fact, from start to finish players will party up (and probably have more fun that way) more often than in Mortal Online, Fallen Earth, ROHAN or Lunia Online. The game also sports a crafting mechanic that requires more scavenging than the typical crafting setup in most MMOs, as well as side activities such as fishing or target practice.
The real highlight of the game, however, is that the concept focuses mainly on the game’s physics, which is running on a modified version of Valve’s Source Engine.
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If this game was a $60 console title I would probably knock two points off simply because there are only three playable character classes at the moment but given that the game is so smooth in its presentation, graphics, controls and customization features, it’s tough to say anything bad about the content that’s offered up for the game. The various kinds of armor, enhancement features, dyes and character adjustments gives the game a nice feel of individual depth that players can sculpt and mold to their liking, much more than what I was expecting when I started playing.
One thing of particular note is the way players can unlock armor and weapon sets by gathering material and talking to NPCs, opening up access to special equipment, allowing many players to sculpt their character with a distinctive look and feel. And funnily enough, even though the graphics are as good as they are, there are hardly any clones. Very surprising, indeed.
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Containing purely physics-driven gameplay, Vindictus is a hardcore action game at its core. The combat is entirely in realtime and players will have to use hack-and-slash tactics to survive many of the combat scenarios in the game. Grappling opponents, throwing objects and smashing through the environment all play a part in the game’s dynamic combat system.
One of the things that was done exceptionally well was the boss fights. Unlike any other MMO out there, Vindictus has some of the most brutal, uncompromising boss battles in any recent game I’ve played. Not only is it required for players to work together, but it’s also essential to use the environment and grappling hooks. Yes, grappling hooks. Pulling the arms or legs of enemies creates a whole new scenario of tactical combat that I haven’t quite seen before in either single player or multiplayer games. The additional abilities to lob spears that impale enemies, or bombs that knockdown opponents also greatly adds to the game’s combat diversity. If I did have a gripe with the combat would be that the Lann warrior class seems to strike too quickly, leaving it difficult for gamers to see and appreciate the sword technique exhibited in the game. Otherwise, the gameplay is pretty much perfect.
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Graphics And Sound
There’s not much to say about the visuals in Vindictus, other than that this is probably the best looking MMO game out there today. I’m sure in a few months time a newer MMO will rear its head, such as TERA Online or Blade and Soul, and possibly blow Vindictus out of the water when it comes to visuals. However, as it stands, there are few games on consoles or PC that match the visual quality present in Vindictus. The game just looks drop-dead gorgeous on the highest settings. Heck, even on the lowest settings it still looks better than most other MMORPGs out there, in fact...the screenshots in this article are from the lower-mid settings and it still runs visual circles around a ton of other games out there. The character detail is impeccable and the clothing, armor, physical damage that both players and enemies endure, is all done really, really well.
The sound effects, on the high quality settings, are equally on par with the game’s astoundingly crisp visuals, with every cut, bash, thrash and environmental clash resounding with pitch-perfect accuracy to the on-screen action. A fair selection of action and town music also rounds out the game’s overall aesthetics with triple-A qualities rarely seen in a free-to-play MMORPG.
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Vindictus is a masterpiece, there’s really no doubt about it. There are a number of console games within the genre that pale in comparison to the quality and visual splendor that devCat brought to the table with Vindictus. While the level limit is still a little low coming out of the gates, the game has so much potential that it doesn't really matter about the level cap right now, and given that it offers as much as it does and happens to be free-to-play just adds extra cookies all the way around.
I’m definitely looking forward to what Nexon does next for this startling new MMO and anyone who is looking for a brutally effective action MMO could no harm in trying out Vindictus.