Prius Online Preview – Giant Mecha, Little Girls, and Flashing Blades

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An adorable little Anima.

Do you like giant mecha? Do you love playing in a fantasy setting? Do
you want an freakily powerful, Alma-like little girl companion to
follow you around with mindless devotion and the ability to set your
foes on fire? If you answer yes to all three questions, then you might
be be interested in style="font-style: italic;">Prius Online,
the latest Korean import being distributed by gPotato. This F2P
(free-to-play) game is currently in beta and Ten Ton Hammer got the
opportunity to give it a hands-on preview.

The lore of style="font-style: italic;">Prius Online
is the standard mix of impending doom and the idea that the player is a
figure of great destiny. For character creation, the player has four
races and six classes to choose from at the present time, with a
seventh class to be revealed later. The classes are race and gender
locked. If you want to play a Gunslinger, then you’re going
to be a Hume (human) female. If you want to be an Ayin (elf) male, then
you’re going to be a Legionnaire. The whole extent of
character customization is pretty much jto adjust your hairstyle and
facial appearance. After creating your character, then you create your
Anima (a little girl who bonds to you and has incredible powers) and
give her behaviors of passive or active, independent or dependent. Then
you’re off to begin your adventures.

Overall, gameplay is your standard MMOG fare. You pick up quests and
complete them to gain xp. As you gain levels, you gain skill points
that you can use to pick up new skills or enhance a skill. Rather than
going to a trainer to buy new skills, you are instead remembering the
old skills that your character has. The background of the game is that
your character died and was brought back to life. Sadly, your memory
has been affected and you remember very little. As you hit certain
milestones in your travels, you will trigger a cutscene. The cutscenes
are well done and enhance the story, but they definitely need work on
the dubbing and the text.

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Once unlocked, your Anima will
be loyal to the end.

As you travel, you will find (or buy) gear that will increase your
stats and abilities. Buying and selling items is somewhat cumbersome in
that you have to right click on an item and then select if you want to
sell it, buy it, equip it, or discard it. This same type of interface
also plagues the talking to NPCs and getting new quests. When you talk
to an NPC, you’ll have to go back to choosing the general
talk option once you have hit the end of a dialogue tree. You may have
other topics to discuss, but you’ll have to go back to the
very beginning of your dialogue and start again to eventually hit those
other topics.

The main talking point of style="font-style: italic;">Prius Online
is their 3C system, which stands for three characters. Eventually,
you’ll have control of three different characters in the game
and you’ll be able to switch back and forth between them if
circumstances permit. First, you have your main character. Once you hit
level 10, you can do a quest to unlock the second C, which is your
Anima. The Anima is an anime girl that bonds to you and wields
incredible power. They have different moods which can affect their
gameplay. If they are not in the correct mood, they might not use that
ability that you ask them to use. You can help change their moods, and
strengthen the bond between your character and them, by talking to
them. You can switch to back and forth between your character and the
Anima by hitting F11. You’ll need to switch to the Anima to
access their full abilities and for crafting. When you’re
controlling the Anima, your normal character will just stand and wait.
You only have a limited time you can be the Anima, at which point
you’ll snap back to your character.

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A mighty Gigas.

At around level 30, you’ll get the ability to get a Gigas, a
giant mech that is controlled by the Anima. Gigas have a huge amount of
firepower, but can only be summoned at certain times. You can have more
than one Gigas, and you can view your whole collection (gotta collect
them all!) while in your Atrium.

The Atrium is your character’s home and exists in its own
dimensional pocket. The Atrium serves as your crafting center, your
place of rest, personal bank, and quest history library. For crafting
purposes, there is an NPC called Cepa that can only be interacted with
only while you’re controlling the Anima. You can upgrade the
Atrium with better amenities if you’re willing to spend the

Combat is your typical auto-attack and activating special skills or
abilities. Defeated enemies drop loot that you can recover. You have a
mini-map to help you locate quest locations, but viewing your normal
map can get difficult as that the text can obscure points of interest.
Also, NPCs that have quests only show up on your mini-map if
you’re extremely close. To help find available quests, you
should go to the bulletin board located at the various hub sites.
There, you can find a listing of the available quests in your area and
who are the NPC contacts. There are also dungeons that you can go into,
but they require a party to do so. There is PvP in the game in the form
of arena fights.

The graphics for style="font-style: italic;">Prius Online
are bright, colorful, and represent a more whimsical view of fantasy.
One example is a monster that you’ll fight that are flying
onions…yes, you read that right…flying onions. If
you don’t like the anime visual style, then stay away from
this game. Every character is done in the Eastern anima style. No
rugged men (except for the Lon race) to be found here, only androgynous
metrosexuals. Cuteness abounds in this game.

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Bringing doom to the fearsome
flying onions!

is currently in closed
beta and it shows its prerelease status in several ways. First, skills
and crafting are not clearly explained within the game. There are tons
of grammatical errors and the voiceover dubbing on the cutscenes is way
off. The lack of drag-and-drop or hotkey selling in the player market
and NPC dialogue trees should be improved. Another game aspect that can
use some attention is if you happen to fail a quest. If you fail a
quest, you just can’t start the quest over. You have to
abandon the quest completely, go back to the original source of the
quest and retake it, and then begin the quest anew.

The game is definitely more Western-friendly than other Asian imports,
but shows the unmistakable hallmarks of a half-localized Eastern game.
It will take a lot of time (ie: grinding) to make decent improvements
to your Atrium. Crafting is pretty complicated and that it will take
quite a bit of grinding to master. Plus, your Anima’s mood
has an impact upon the crops that you’ll be cultivating, so I
assume that you’ll be interacting with her quite a bit to
make sure that she’s in the proper mood for whatever
you’re trying to cultivate.

Overall, I had a nice experience trying out style="font-style: italic;">Prius Online.
It’s certainly rough around the edges as it’s still
in beta and slowly being reworked for Western audiences. While there a
few things that need improvement, gameplay is solid, if largely
unimaginative, and the setting is visually appealing. The 3C system of
character, animas, and gigas is genre adapted take on AI-controlled
mercenaries / minions, but is arguably better done – since
stoy is told through the squad and more fun to play with. There are
some aspects of the game that minimized my enjoyment (the grindy
aspects of crafting and gameplay in general), but without a cash shop
its impossible to see how free-play purist-friendly the game is. If you
like the anime premise of style="font-style: italic;">Prius Online
and its squad based features, there’s no harm in checking out
when it officially
launches later in 2011.

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A Gigas in action.

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