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Vindictus is an absolutely stunning game from Nexon, the same people that bought us Atlantica. The game was uses the Source engine, which allows players to interact with the environment and also ensures smooth gameplay. Vindictus has high production value, including well translated dialogue, a clean interface, and cinematics.

Storyline: The air is thick with despair, and the battles never cease. Rain falls, yet the land is barren, as if the earth has been drenched in too much bloodshed to bear fruit. Monstrous creatures lurk in every trench, cave, and valley. To survive, people have huddled together, forming ramshackle towns with high walls. Yet, cowering behind those walls does not guarantee safety...

What has become of the outside world? Few people know. Fewer care to find out. As the common folk trudge from one empty day into the next, only one thought keeps them going: the Legend. The Legend will come to pass. The people yearn for it, pray for it. They hope and believe. And because they believe, they know. The people wait, as they have for countless generations, for the black-winged goddess to come and save them.

Features: Right from the very beginning of the game, you'll notice the extra attention to presentation that Nexon and Devcat (developer of Mabinogi) has paid Vindictus. After picking your character and entering the game, you'll be treated to a brief in-game cinematic explaining that a massive spider which was supposed to be protecting your hometown has gone mad and started rampaging up the side of a local cathedral. The town's oracle tries to prevent the militia from just shooting the spider, and your captain agrees to send you and a small force in with her to try and coax the spider down (apparently oracles can talk to nasty homicidal animals).

It's a pretty wicked and satisfying tutorial for the combat of Vindictus. You'll fight your way through a few rooms of bloodthirsty gnolls (who obviously have something to do with the spider's rage), and get a good feel for the basics of Vindictus' visceral combat. Once at the top you'll have to beat up on the spider since it doesn't feel much like chatting, and then after another cinematic you'll finally enter the game world proper.

Character creation in Vindictus is actually broken up between two parts. Players choose their character before logging in, but name their character and customize their appearance after completing (or skipping) the prologue. Hair color, hair styles, height, make up, eye brow, eye color, and more can be customized.

Like other brawlers, including Nexon?s own Dungeon Fighter Online, only the towns in Vindictus are persistent. Only in certain regions can players interact with others, form parties, trade, or chat. Even the buildings in Vindictus are instanced in a sense. Players can?t walk around inside them, instead they are greeted by a still image of the interior and can chat with the NPCs which appear as portraits. Its a bit odd at first, but gives the game an oldschool RPG feel. It is from these NPCs that players unlock new ?battles?, which are the instanced stages in Vindictus.

Like most MMORPGs, players will be going solo for the first few levels. It is possible to experience most of what Vindictus has to offer alone, but it is much more fun when played cooperatively with a group of friends or even strangers. Rather than simply show a list of available stages or portals, Vindictus does a pretty decent job of incorporating the instanced aspects into the game world. Players board longboats and head off towards certain destinations and return when they?ve completed what ever task they had to do. Yes, it?s still instancing, but it feels more fluid than simply entering the same portal as everyone else yet ending up in different places. The deck of the longboat acts as the waiting room while a bulletin board near the docks serves as the lobby. Players can wait around on the ship and mess around by breaking crates, barrels, and throwing around fruit while waiting for others to join their ?room.? When ready to start the stage, the host can hit the appropriate button and the party can be on its way.

Vindictus has fast-paced, hack and slash combat. This means players will be manually controlling each swing of the sword of each spell cast. Two control schemes are available, including mouse and keyboard movement. In this case, serious gamers should stick with the mouse option since that?s the one in which W,A,S,D control movement while the mouse controls the camera. In my humble opinion it gives players more precise controls. The left and right mouse buttons control the two main attack types, but other keyboard keys also play a role. The ?e? key grabs objects or opponents, and ?r? is used to deal finishing blows on enemies. There?s no way to jump in Vindictus, hitting the space bar causes the character to roll forward like Link from a Legend of Zelda title. Players only have to worry about fighting wooden dummies during the first level, and on-screen prompts do a good job explaining the controls as the stage progresses. A boss awaits at the end of each stage, and stages can be set at three difficulty settings. There are many variables that determine the reward at the end of a mission including Oaths of Honor, which are additional challenges players can take on to increase the BP (battle points) they receive. These oaths come in many shapes and sizes, but some simple ones include finishing the battle within a time limit or with a certain number of players.

One of the most original aspects of Vindictus (something that sets it apart even from other brawler MMORPGs), is the ability to interact so thoroughly with the environment. This feature is due in large part the the Source engine on which Vindictus was built. The crazy physics capabilities that the Source engine is capable of pulling off were first displayed in Half Life 2. Players can pick up and throw various objects, ranging from barrels, to broken pillars, and even monsters. That?s right, players can pick up one monster and chuck it towards another. Better still, its possible to grab one opponent and use it as a shield against arrows that another foe may be firing. Besides picking up and throwing stuff, Vindictus also has destructable environments. While this serves mainly a cosmetic purpose, it does allow players to take alternative paths or reach hidden items during some stages. Most monsters don?t drop loot in Vindictus, so there?s no ?vendor trash? that players have to unload at the end of each mission. Instead, loot is few and far between, but almost everything dropped is used in crafting. Empty bottles are used to make potions, while leather and other resources are used to fashion new equipment. The experience rate is pretty slow, but players earn AP by completing battles and can use them to upgrade their skills.

This game just oozes of high quality excellence and in my opinion is one of the more immersive MMO's around. Definitely one to play.



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