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Rusty Hearts Review: Swords, Guns, and Action Dominate in this Free MMORPG

Posted Thu, Oct 06, 2011 by jeffprime

rusty hearts free mmorpg review

Rusty Hearts came across Ten Ton Hammer’s radar during the E3 2011 show where Ethec described how the game took him back to the glory days of Double Dragon, Golden Axe, and Streets of Rage. Being a fan of old-school smash-them-up games (and being old!), I eagerly awaited the game and was able to preview the game before launch. Now, Rusty Hearts is out and I ventured into the gothic setting to slay hordes of monsters, buy some cool clothes for my character, and review the game to see if it delivers action and a good time.

Rusty Hearts is a free online MMORPG developed by Stairway Games and distributed by Perfect World Entertainment. In this anime-inspired game, the player takes on the role of one of three characters (a fourth is coming later) who fights against the menacing vampire lord, Vlad. While there is a storyline in the game, the focus is on fighting. You’ll fight your way through countless dungeons, slaying armies of hideous monsters, to defend the citizens of the realm from the festering evil.

rusty hearts free mmorpg review
Laying some smackdown on some monsters!

Cautions

There is nothing objectionable in the game. It’s full of cartoon blood and over-the-top cartoon violence, but if that bothers you, then you’re not in the market for monster-slaying dungeon crawls.

Gameplay

90GreatThe gameplay of Rusty Hearts focuses on action, action, and even more action. While described as an MMORPG, Rusty Hearts is a fighting game wrapped within a storyline. You’ll pick one of the three characters to play, each with their own fighting style. If you’re looking for the holy trinity of DPS, tank, and healer, you’ll search in vain. Your main option of character determination is of how you decide to kick the ass of monsters: swords and axes (Franz), magic sword and scythe (Angela), or gauntlet and claw (Tude).

The premise is refreshing simple. You get quests from various townspeople, which you fulfill by going into a dungeon. Each dungeon is comprised of several different areas (smaller dungeons) with suggested level ranges suggested for each. You can enter each specific dungeon as many times as you wish; you don’t even need a quest to enter one. You get xp by killing monsters, completing the dungeon, and also by finishing quests. Each dungeon is comprised of numerous rooms, each filled with slavering hordes of monsters, which you need to kill in order to move on to another room. At the end of each dungeon, you’ll face off against a boss monster and his minions. Once you defeat him, you get some random loot by using cards that you pick up from dead monsters as you travel. Once you’ve finished a dungeon, you can repeat the dungeon, use a store to sell loot and repair, or return to the town. Once you’ve finished a dungeon on the normal setting, you can then enter it on hard mode, and then very hard mode.

rusty hearts free mmorpg review
Filthy undead getting my white clothes dirty!

As you level, you gain new abilities and upgrade those abilities as you gain in power. Once you’ve advanced enough, a new section of the city will open to you with a new dungeon for you to adventure in.

The game is ridiculously addictive. It’s tremendous fun if you’re looking for an action MMO. You’ll be button mashing like mad to do cool combos and trying to improve your “style” points as you go through a dungeon. The action is the centerpiece of the game and it shines. Your various abilities are executed in a cool manner and you look bad-ass as you plow through mobs of creatures, dishing out their deserved retribution.

While you will go through each dungeon a lot of times, it doesn’t get boring. The average time to get through a dungeon is from between five to ten minutes, so you’ll be breezing along, swinging your sword through the rotten innards of the undead. Rusty Hearts will throw some curveballs to add some spice to a dungeon by having your complete it within a certain time limit, have limits upon the number of times you get hit, having a chest spawn with additional loot to entice you to go through again, having a different boss monster, or one of a handful of other conditions.

The storyline is interesting the first time around, but later on you’ll be fast-clicking through the dialogue. The game’s setting is somewhat serious, but there is definitely a humorous touch to the game. The character of Angela gets most of the good lines throughout the game as she constantly belly-aches about what’s going on.

rusty hearts free mmorpg review
The game's tone stays light because of the humor. Oh, Angela.

There are the usual MMO staples in Rusty Hearts. There are guilds, an auction house, PvP, and crafting. However, the focus remains firmly on fighting. If you’re looking for a vast world to travel and explore, harvesting fizzywig ferns to make enchanted placemats, or gather with other players to recreate the Battle of Helm’s Deep, then you’re out of luck. Rusty Hearts is a fighting game with RPG elements thrown in.

The biggest drawback to Rusty Hearts is the lack of customization. Since there are only three characters to pick from, everybody looks the same. While you can get costume pieces to wear (either from quest rewards, crafting, or the cash shop), you’ll still look like one of a crowd. Still, you’re spending the vast majority of your time in dungeons killing monsters, so it’s not a game-breaker. However, it would be nice if more customization options would become available.

Graphics

90GreatThe graphics in Rusty Heart are incredibly well done and vibrant. The game features cel-shaded art that is done in an anime gothic style. The town, dungeons, and monsters are all well detailed and the graphics really pull you into the game. The gothic style lends itself to a brooding, melancholy air, but the anime-influence helps keep it light. If you are not a fan of anime, then you’ll need to stay away from this game. Oversized weapons are standard monster fighting fare, my friend.

rusty hearts free mmorpg review
The setting is suitably gothic.

Sound

70OkayThe sound in Rusty Hearts is a mixed bag. The music and sound effects are well done. The sounds of combat are dynamic and exciting, full of grunts and clashing weapons. The music is played in a haunting, melancholy piano style and is really well done, but like most MMOs, does get repetitive. The voice-acting is terrible. If there is spoken dialogue, you can’t hear it most of the time as it is incredibly low and is usually drowned out by the music. It’s like having somebody whisper to you from across the room while you’re standing next to somebody playing the violin.

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