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Samhain's Zergwatch

Samhain's Zergwatch is a blog that started in 2006 on a different gaming community server and has since evolved into www.zergwatch.com, a place to gather my twisted thoughts on the whole mess. Explore the oozing underbelly of gaming with me.

Author: zergwatch

Mabinogi MMO Review

Posted by zergwatch Monday March 31 2008 at 11:51PM
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I was drawn to Mabinogi out of curiosity. Although the name Mabinogi sounds as if the game comes to us right off the shelves of EB Games Japan, Mabinogi is actually a collection of Welsh and Celtic  tales which have nothing to do with any Asian cultures.

A western mythology based MMORPG is an all around good idea. I'm not sure about putting it into an anime setting. The world of Mabinogi runs on on what appears to be a somewhat late model 3D engine. The characters are 3D characters with a 2D anime style texturing, complete with blocky highlighted outlines around them.

Mabinogi uses a traditional free to play RMT revenue based system. With free access, you get 1 character card (character slot) with a limited set of customizable features. The access to premium options begins with character creation. Only a certain number of cosmetic features are available for free play, but you can upgrade your account to have more customizations which really aren't that much different from the standard set.

At character creation, you can also set your avatar's age. It was a bit confusing at first because the only cue the game gave about what age does was a warning that it is harder to play younger characters.

The user interface was, well, unique. I'm an old Solaris / Linux admin type, so I found the old XWin style interface a bit welcoming and nostalgic. I'm not quite sure what sort of reception this interface will receive from a North American population born and raised on Windows 95, XP and Vista. One UI disappointment was the lack of customizable key mappings as I'm also an FPS/MMO WASD and Arrow Key movement kinda guy.

This is the part of the review where I normally tear apart the poor infamous Asian MMORPG that just beached itself upon our medical waste filled sandy beaches in a rickety old junk, aspiring to be the next Asian crossover wonder.

I can't bring myself to do that. Mabinogi is fun in an old Commodore-64 demo scene sort of way. It's not that great. It's also not terrible. Most importantly, it's not a cut, paste and translate sort of game. There's lots of interesting features in the game. As you level up, you can choose any skill path you want. Another ingenious idea in Mabinogi is rebirthing. With rebirthing, you can create a new level 1 character off the skill and ability points of your main character. This allows players to explore different character development skills without have to acquire ability points all over again.

Another neat feature in the game is eating. In most MMORPG's you can guzzle down meats, juices and ales at will. In Mabinogi, characters will gain and lose weight depending on the foods they eat. If you eat fatty foods, you become a fat ass. Eat healthy, and you can maintain that chiseled MMORPG physique we are all so used to seeing.

When you look past the sub par interface, the over anime-ization of the character models, late model graphics engine and click to move interface, there's something charming and unique with the game. The game offers a lot more socialization options than our run of the mill turn of the century WoW clones.  Also, killing little cute and cuddly furry animals never gets old.

Mabinogi's entry into the North American market nearly 4 years after its release overseas, probably will not get much attention or recognition here in the U.S. Unlike every other Korean crossover I've tried, aside from Requiem: Bloodymare, Mabinogi offers the user more than just mob grinding and loot whoring. It wasn't a terrible experience. The most redeeming quality of Mabinogi is its ability to relive MMORPG's of old, a chance to say "Gee, I wish more mainstream MMORPG's had stuff like this in them."

phatpetey writes:

Good review !

Tue Apr 01 2008 12:58AM Report
Hashbrick writes:

Hey zerg good review.

The one thing that turned me away is that at some point they force you to buy, once you reach age 25 (every sever week is a new age) you no longer get ap, you need to buy a new character card to rebirth your character to a younger age so he can collect ap again, without ap you are forced to live the world with sub-par skills and will never grow, this will be the dropping point for many.

Also if you look to see what will come since asia is at G6 and America only G1 there is a lot and lot of crazy stuff that makes this game so unique, just tons once those start coming in then the game will be worth to pay, right now they have tons of stuff blocked off and you feel isolated in a box since you really can't go anywhere and forced to grind to level up.

Peace.

 

Tue Apr 01 2008 3:43AM Report
Tatum writes:

"This is the part of the review where I normally tear apart the poor infamous Asian MMORPG that just beached itself upon our medical waste filled sandy beaches in a rickety old junk, aspiring to be the next Asian crossover wonder."

LOL.  Nice review though.  I'm starting to here some positive reviews about some features in this game.  Sounds interesting, even if the graphic style is a little...different.

 

Tue Apr 01 2008 10:36AM Report
gom276 writes:

I think I am being put into a moral dilemma with myself, must I admit my lustful nature for beauty and design over functionality.  I am ashamed to admit I have a hard time playing a game that is just not nice to look at.  It may be the artist in me that strives for excellence or just the human nature to tend towards beautiful things... but as good as the game content is and as interesting as the game play may be I just cannot deny in myself the need to look at beautiful things.

I would shamefully admit to taking the trashy beautiful girl to the prom rather than the brainy nerd with no sense of style. 

Shallow I know but at least I am honest in that aspect of myself.  If I could have it all the brains the looks I would commit for life.  But as of yet its either one or the other.

Tue Apr 01 2008 4:24PM Report
Arioc writes:

One interesting element I'd like to add is that I found Mabinogi filled with a wealth of undocumented features. Foregoing a standardized method of aquiring skills, they entrench them and sometimes hide them in a variety of training methods.

Some NPC's will teach you basic skills by using the "Skills" keyword during conversion while others only appear if a specific tool is equipped. Some come only after choosing to do a repeatable task for the npc many times. It's nice to have such a deep method of training players, but can be very frustrating for the new player who dosn't understand how to get "herbalism" or what herbalism does. No charts or tables explaining many of the passive skills and their potency are available online. I've been googling trying to get more info.

Another curious thing is that Mabinogi at first glance felt exicting due to the sandbox skillset. However through several weeks of play and talking to veteren players I found that ranged attacks and magic are only a support roll. If a player wishes to solo affectivly he must melee. In fact even ranged players state that while you can open an encounter with a bow and get a few hits off, most mobs will force you to melee, so a player cannot focus on pure magic or pure bows and succeed without a hefty struggle.

I suppose I was disappointed that I couldn't be a pure mage, I had to melee, and because I had to melee I was forced to wear armor or esle monsters 1 shot me. The rock-paper-scissors method of combat dosn't really allow for ranged (magic or bow) combat to work without delicate timing and gameplay. Lets just say a more skilled player might be able to sustain himself on magic, but any novice or intermediate player will die ALOT and not understand why he can't solo some mobs.

Tue Apr 01 2008 6:02PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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