reviews\ Mar 4, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Mabinogi review - - Review


In the past week, I have learned how to fight effectively with a sword, how to shear a sheep for wool, to chop wood, to sew a shirt from raw materials, play the lute, compose my own songs, and catch and cook a fish. What sounds like an extremely busy week, was really all in a days work in the colorful, online world of Mabinogi. Mabinogi is yet another fantastic free-to-play MMO from Nexon.

Mabinogi is not a traditional MMORPG such as World of Warcraft or Everquest. It is a more casual experience that lets the player live out their lives in any fashion they want. When I created my spiky-haired character, my attention was immediately drawn to a section which had me pick my age. You can start off by playing as a kid, but for new players it is recommended to start as a 17-year-old because the sooner you reach the age of 18, the sooner you can experience everything the game has to offer.

The game also removes the choice of picking a traditional class such as a warrior, rogue or mage, and instead lets you be a jack of all trades or a master of one. If you feel like being a sword wielding woodsman, a tailor that specializes in bows, or even a traveling musician that can cast a mean fireball, the game permits those choices without any hesitation.

The game starts the player off in a small town, with basic equipment, and a bunch of tutorial quests to get familiar with the game. New quests, which are brought to players by owls swooping down from the sky, are then automatically added according to which quests were already done prior, and what level the player is. This eliminates the hassle of needless running around, and rather lets the player focus on the tasks at hand.

The mini-map always displays where to go next, so it is impossible to ever get lost while questing. Finishing certain quests also allows players learn new skills, which range from building a campfire for faster healing, sewing clothes, casting magic, etc. These skills improve over time, so as long as they are used. Each skill requires a certain amount of points to level up. This is where it's important to pick a set amount of skills to focus on, since players don’t have enough points to master every skill. The game also features instant dungeons that are randomly generated. Though it is nice that you can go into a certain dungeon multiple times with different layouts, they all generally look the same.

Questing, though important to learn skills, is not the only thing entertaining to focus on. Crafting is a huge part of Mabinogi. Though armor, and items are offered in shops, a lot of the better equipment is made by other players. To be able to craft items, players first have to earn recipes, which are usually dropped by enemies, offered as quest rewards or can be bought in shops.

The only gameplay element that wasn’t enjoyable as I had originally hoped was the actual combat. Whenever I would attack, it seemed like it had a delayed reaction, while the monster always attacked immediately, which usually ended up with my character being knocked out. I did, however, enjoy the actual combat mechanics, which would otherwise make the combat great. When attacking an enemy, an icon appears above their head, letting you know what they are about to do. A shield icon, for example, means it is about to defend, which means you should use a heavy attack skill to break through the defense. This type of combat mechanic is awesome to see in a MMO, but suffers because of low response time.

The game is presented in a cel-shaded anime style. The characters and vibrant environments look as if they were ripped straight out of a Hayao Miyazaki film. The sound however is a hit or miss situation. Though there are some really nice piano tunes, the rest of the soundtrack, while going through a dungeon, or traversing the map, was out of place. The game also incorporates cutscenes when performing quests that revolve around the main storyline, which is a nice touch because it makes the player feel more important, and more like a main character in the game, rather than just one of many.

Mabinogi might not be the MMO everyone will be flocking to, nor is it in any way, shape or form going to lure in hardcore MMO players, but it does however provide a nice casual experience for anyone looking for a laid back online experience.


About The Author
Mike Splechta GameZone's review copy hoarding D-bag extraordinaire! Follow me @MichaelSplechta
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