Mabinogi - Official Review

by
Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor

Throughout the past several
years, the Internet and the MMO gaming space has begun to really fill
up with games that are on the “cute” side of the
spectrum. These sort of games run the gamut, ranging from the super kid
friendly to the potentially risqué, but all of them keep the
bright color palette and happy atmosphere associated with a
“cute” world.



One of the biggest names in the entire cute market is Nexon’s
MapleStory,
a free to play game created specifically to allow gamers to do whatever
they feel like doing. It’s an open ended world, where hunting
monsters is just as important as hanging out with your
friends. 



Not wanting to step away from a good thing, Nexon’s most
recent venture into the MMOG market is a similar sort of product, which
has been named Mabinogi.
The Ten Ton Hammer crew href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/27081">first saw style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi at GDC 2008,
and we've been fascinated with the ideas expressed in the game ever
since. After a few weeks of careful study, I feel that I can now
officially
weigh in on Nexon’s latest release, so sit back, relax, and
enjoy the full review!



General Gameplay


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A shot of a town
square in Mabinogi.

For the most part, Mabinogi
falls into the phrase “easy to learn, yet hard to
master.” Rather than focus on one particular aspect of
gameplay, the developers at Nexon opted to create a game that was
incredibly broad and covered a wide variety of play styles within its
cute confines. Everything that a player could want – trading,
crafting, combat, collecting, and user generated content – is
possible in Mabinogi.
There’s so much to find in the game that if a person
doesn’t care to try out a portion of their character, they
simply don’t have to do it.



Even after my first 10 hours of gameplay experience, I still was
learning new ways to play the game – whether that’s
through finally taking the time to learn a few magic skills or jumping
into the trade skills with both feet. Thanks to a very addictive key
word system (which I used on every single NPC I could find), players
can uncover all sorts of interesting abilities and in-game storyline by
simply chatting with those NPCs that want to talk.  



Thus far in my Mabinogi
experience I’ve focused my attentions on melee combat and
wood harvesting. Since many skills advance attributes as you use them,
I found that these two skill complimented each other very well and
really drove my character to be as strong and hearty as possible.



Unlike most MMORPGs with a level based system, style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi
doesn’t really focus its attention upon the gaining of
levels. Instead, Mabinogi
uses a combination of skills and levels to advance characters through
the game. Players have skills associated with every part of the game,
from specialized melee and magic attacks to the creation of campfires
or the playing of music. To advance and learn new skills, players need
to level up, but leveling up doesn’t automatically allow for
the advancement of skills. In fact, gaining levels isn’t
always the best tactic in Mabinogi at all. As I reached level 10, I
actually found myself to be slightly underpowered for my level.



How could that be? With skills in Mabinogi
being upgraded through their use, I actually had underpowered skills to
go along with my fairly strong statistics. I had powered through the
quest content in the game so quickly that my skills had been put to
very little use in comparison.



Thankfully, it was fairly easy to find monsters to kill. In fact, it
was as easy as placing an item on the Altar of the Goddess, which
creates a unique dungeon based upon what item was placed on the altar.
Although I thoroughly describe this system in my href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/30106">Mabinogi first
impressions review, I found it to be so thoroughly
entertaining that it would have been ridiculous to leave it off in my
full review of the game. By emptying my inventory of useless
merchandise, I quickly advanced all of my skills (and leveled a few
times on top of that) so I was a fairly proficient fighter. 


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Micajah may be a
friend of Trefor, but he's also dead.

On top of the skill advancement dilemma, storyline and experience
generating quests often don’t reward players with ample
amounts of money, and most of the equipment in style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi is
extremely expensive. Players that are looking for money generating
quests have to go to NPCs that sell quest scrolls. These
“purchasable” quests don’t generate any
experience, but they do offer players a good sum of money to complete
them.



Another form of money-making in Mabinogi
is through “part-time jobs.” After you’ve
spent some time in your starting city, players will usually find
themselves with a bit of down time in between their quests or faced
with a long walk ahead of them to make it to the next area. To
alleviate that obnoxious element of waiting around an area without
anything to do, the developers instituted “part time
jobs” that players can receive from the NPCs in their town.



By arriving at a particular in-game time (usually around 7:00 a.m.),
players can pick up a part time job from one of the NPCs in the area
and complete the task appointed to them. Most NPCs have a general duty
– “Find me 5 pieces of firewood”
– that a player will need to accomplish to receive their
reward. After playing through a few of these part time jobs, the
rewards for completing them will continue to become better and better.



If the player completes enough quests, part-time jobs, or simply
follows a similar path as an NPC, they can earn a title designating
them as a “friend of NPC.” Similar to what you can
find in Lord of the
Rings Online
, Mabinogi
players are challenged with a whole list of titles they can earn, each
of which granting its own set of bonus statistics on the character. My
current title “Micajah is a friend of Teflor” gives
a boost to my strength and stamina, making me a much better fighter.



NPCs and Storyline


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One of the many NPCs
in Mabinogi.

Speaking of NPCs, Nexon has done a fairly remarkable job of creating a
game world that is cheerful and bright while still making the NPCs
intriguing to the reader. Beginning players will spend a long time in
the starter town, and by the time you leave the area you’ll
be incredibly familiar with each of them – from the Chief of
the town to the crazy girl that works at the bank.



Not only does each character have their own little piece of dialogue,
they also have their own particular descriptions, relationships with
other NPCs, and they can be influenced in their thoughts of the player
character through particular choices of dialogue. If you lose the
respect of a particular NPC, it may be very difficult to win it back
again.



Along with the NPCs, the storyline in style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi is quite
well done for an imported MMORPG. It’s obvious that the North
American localization team spent a very long time creating a game that
didn’t jar with our North American sensibilities. Characters
often have very spirited dialogue, but even then it’s still
incredibly easy to read and absorb everything that an NPC is trying to
tell you. Quests are relatively easy to find, but if you want to dig
deeper into the NPCs with the dialogue options, you can often uncover
other quests that you can do as well, which often send you off into the
wilds in search of particularly angry animals.



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

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