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Free-to-Play Games

of Jun 20- Jun 26, 2010

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1. Dungeons
and Dragons
Online: Eberron Unlimited

2. style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="">Runes
of Magic target="_blank">

href=""> style="text-decoration: underline;"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;">3.  href="" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;">FreeRealms

4.  href=""
target="_blank"> href="" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href=""
target="_top"> href="" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href=""
target="_blank">Atlantica Online

5.  target="_blank">  href=""
Chronicles of Spellborn

Perfect World International

 7.  href=""
target="_top"> href=""
target="_top"> href=""
target="_top"> href=""
target="_blank">Sword of the New World

8. target="_blank">Aika href=""

9. target="_blank">Allods Online

10.  target="_top">Requiem: Bloodmayne href=""
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While free-to-play gaming has quickly become a favored passion of mine,
I make no secret that I still raid with some regularity in style="font-style: italic;">World of Warcraft.
In all honesty, I really don’t care that much for WoW as a game--it’s
simplistic, about as deep as the plot to an Uwe Bol movie, and the
discussion emanating from the game’s general chat channels is the
textual version of the ruckus emanating from thousands of vuvuzelas at
a World Cup match. So why do I keep playing? Mainly, it’s due to the
large number of players in WoW and also because it’s where most of my
friends are. But there is an odd phenomenon of player burnout that
happens every summer in the land of Azeroth, and it seems with each
successive year of WoW’s existence it gets worse.

I have talked about this subject in the past, but it seems that an even
greater number of people I know are wandering about aimlessly looking
for something new and fun to play while they wait for either the next
big title or their game’s newest expansion. in my opinion, the easiest
answer is, of course, free-to-play gaming. With many of the best in the
business set to roll out expansions and content updates in the next few
weeks, and months and with Global
joining the party, there has never been a better
time than now. This week I set my sights on an eclectic title from
Nexon, Mabinogi,
which blends Celtic lore and a South Korean ethos into a very
interesting brand of gaming.

Few games that I have played are as much of a paradox as
is, from the title, which sounds like it could be of the same
Korean origin as the game, to overly simplified and stylized graphics
that belie a complex yet easy-to-understand MMOG. As Nexon prepares to
launch a spinoff of the Mabinogi
universe in the form of its highly
anticipated prequel: Vindictus,
there is no better time to take an
in-depth look at the original.

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Mabinogi has a unique look and style. 

The name Mabinogi
doesn’t come from the source most would expect for a
Korean MMOG--it is neither a Korean word nor a made up name, but rather
a Welsh word that is a derivative of Mabinogion, a group of stories of
Celtic lore. Mabinogi,
like many other Asian MMOGs, is a game that
plays like a story, in that it is laid out in a book and chapter system
(referred to as Generations and Stories here.)


The first thing you notice about the graphics in style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi will
definitely be the look of the avatars, which have an anime style
straight off the pages of a Manga, from the hand painted colors to the
pronounced cell shading. The characters are also fairly young looking,
with good reason, as we will discuss later on in the review. Textures
are simplistic and match the overall theme. style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi is also
relatively small in terms of the actual program, weighing in at just
under 800 megs--limiting graphics is a fairly good way to keep game
mass in check. (I tried telling my doctor recently that I just had a
higher polygon count, but that didn’t fly, sadly). The game’s UI is
minimalist and well laid out, with controls handled by a “start bar”
like interface reminiscent of newer versions of Windows. The mini-map
is a little on the large size for my tastes, but it gets the job done.

The graphics here could be better, however they really do fit the style
of this game and players who end up enjoying the world of style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi but yearn
for a more grown up look and feel will soon have Vindictus to satisfy
that need.


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Character age begins in the teens. 

It may sound like complete hyperbole to say that I have never played a
game as unique in its offerings and playstyle as style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi, but it
really is the truth – if there is anything else on the market like
this, I haven’t run across it. The first distinction from traditional
MMOGs is that there are no classes here, and characters advance in
levels, age and progress through a myriad of skills.

Wait, your characters age? Yeah, I slipped that in there on you, didn’t
I? Players in Mabinogi
select a starting age for their character of anywhere between 10 and 17
years old. Older characters start with more skill points, but younger
characters will gain a greater amount of skill over time. To facilitate
aging the game employs a system of static time measurement that ages
characters one year every week, and at age 20 you get the option to
“rebirth” your character for free. The rebirth system of style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi is perhaps
the most unique feature of this eclectic game; it allows players to
reset their age and skill points while retaining any skills they have
already learned. The most dedicated of players typically choose to
start at 17 so that they can get a free reset every 3 weeks.

So aside from growing old, what else is there to do in style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi? Tons.
Aside from the main quest lines, which guide you through the chapters
in a semi-linear fashion, you can also engage in tradeskills, skills,
creating your own music and even part-time jobs that you can take on…if
you can show up on time. One of the minor drawbacks to style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi that I
have found is that many aspects of the game run on a strict schedule
that is dictated by the game, for example many part time jobs require
you to be there at 07:00AM game time to accept them, and that can
prevent players with varied schedules from participating in everything
they want to.

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Higher end encounters encourage group

Combat is another area where the game varies from just about anything
else you may have played. Using an almost mini-game like system,
opponents will flash one of a few basic symbols over their head and you
have a small window of opportunity to trigger one of your abilities to
counter or exploit it. Learning the basics of combat is a quick and
easy process, but perfecting it, especially at higher levels, can be a
complex affair. At my current level range all the content is relatively
easy and enjoyable, but the grumblings of higher end players are often
times difficult to ignore and the complaints here lie in overall combat
balance issues at higher levels and the need to specialize in one
specific skill, named Windmill, in order to be viable. While I normally
take chat-based complaints with enough salt to cure a ham, when
reasonable players begin to chime in about the same issues then I must
lend them credence.


Value in Mabinogi
is also a bit of a
mixed bag: some fairly
necessary items are a bit on the pricey side, and the in game economy
is more
inflated than Barry Bonds’ head after a Balco visit. The most glaring
issue for
me was that a level one character can buy some of the highest end
equipment in
the game, and even though the upgraded equipment isn’t much of a boon
at that
level, its availability still creates the feeling that paying customers
have a much easier time in game. The dedicated player who develops a
sense of investment in their character will find the game to be on par
with a
most other subscription based games in annual cost.


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(3 / 5

scores a 3 out 5 Hammers overall with high marks
for its unique and surprisingly deep world and lower marks for economy
value. Mabinogi is
still a compelling and fun game, especially for the more
casual or socially-minded gamer, as it provides many different elements
explore and enjoy. So, enjoy a quick and painless download and take a
staycation in the world of Mabinogi.

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 Modesty may be in short supply.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Mabinogi Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016