Soul of the Ultimate Nation (often abbreviated as S.U.N. or SUN) is a free-to-play MMORPG developed by Webzen. SUN Online brings a strong story-based RPG to us with a large world and stunning visuals.
Visuals and Sound/Music
Visually, Soul of the Ultimate Nation looks stunning, especially when compared to many of its competitors on the F2P stage. The characters are well detailed and so are the large landscapes. The beautifully done world is one of the highlights of the game and an aspect SUN Online can be proud of. Even with all the flashy graphics and well done environments though, there is one aspect of the game that lacks visually and that is the skill animations. The skill animations look stiff and outright dull, there is nothing that makes your jaw drop or makes you interested in other skills that you might get at higher levels.
It is also impressive that the musical score is created by the Academy Award winning Howard Shore, very well known for his work with Lord of the Rings, once again he lives up to his reputation by helping to bring the story alive with exceptional arrangement.
There are a total of four different classes including the hard hitting Berserker, magic casting Elementalist, long range Valkyrie and the quick combat Dragon Knights. After you choose your class you can customize your character's height, face and hairstyle. While it is good to have the option to customize your character, it is limited to an extent. One tremendous problem with the character creation is that all of the four classes are gender locked, meaning that certain classes can only be played as a female/male character.
Berserker and Dragon Knight are male only classes whereas Valkyrie and Elementalist are female. What would ease the problem would be the ability to use weapons or armor from other classes but you cannot. Each group has two different weapon types they can use so you need to choose wisely as the weaponry and armor are different for each and every class.
Gameplay and Content
When you first get into the game, you are treated to a short cinematic movie that explains a little bit about what is happening in the world that you will be entering. It is a good way of welcoming you into the game but will get annoying after some time because it will start every time you enter the world. Fortunately, it's skippable. There are a total of two servers both with two channels inside of them, you can easily choose either one of them but there is no way to transfer a character from one server to another, meaning that you need to create a different character on a different server if you want to play on the selected channel. When you do choose a channel it's best to stick with it and create multiple characters because that option is available. After choosing a channel and selecting a character you are ready to get into the game.
When you first get into the actual game, you are put directly into a small beginner's village where you do the usual quests as talking to the NPCs, getting to know all of the different people that are surrounding you.
The world you explore is rather larger; to get from one spot on the map to another you use portals. The portal system means that when you are on a certain part of the map ,to get to another spot on the map, whether it be close or not, you need to travel through a portal which can be a bit annoying, but does not affect the overall experience of the game. One issue with moving through parts of the map is that most areas of it are level locked, meaning that you need to be a certain level to get to a specific city or another part of the world.
The game's interface is similar to any other MMORPG: you've got your basic layout of a mini-map, Health/Mana bars, skill slots and more. It's a classical setup that MMORPGs are known for, why change something that works so well?
The earlier levels in the game are really just a walkthrough. SUN Online does a good job of introducing you to all of the different elements in the game such as using skills, trading items and the crafting system. You occasionally get quests where you need to gather some materials/items from certain locations. These can be very enjoyable between all of the other missions you get to do where you have to slay mobs or deliver messages.
The crafting system is detailed and solid, there are so many items to craft that it will make your head spin. It takes some time before you really get the hang of the crafting system, but at later levels it really is something you will enjoy messing around with. When you come to level 30 or so you notice that you are still in the beginning stages of the game which can throw you off a little as this game forces you to level up as quickly as possible.
The "real game" starts after level 40. The Level cap in the game is currently at 100, which is high for a free-to-play MMORPG but well worth the trouble to get there. It feels like the game was designed for high level combat as when you pass level 40 the real fun begins, you are able to enter several different dungeons, be more effective in Battle Zone and also craft more items. While the first 30 levels are a breeze, after that the game takes a turn for the better. It is safe to say that the game focuses mainly on high level characters, which is great but if the introduction to the game has slow start it might make you lose interest in continuing into the higher levels of the game.
Like almost every MMORPG, Soul of the Ultimate Nation supports playing in a group with other people, it does not only support the feature but it forces it on you at early levels where you need to beat incredibly hard bosses surrounded by several mobs that can do a lot of damage. It is understandable that an MMORPG has a party system but SUN Online is really pushing it on you and the game makes you create a party because some quests are just unbeatable without it, as doing it alone requires 5-10 levels over the quest requirement or in a party.
While this wouldn't normally be a problem, it does serve to point to one of the game's larger flaws: a lack of a large community. Finding a group can often be difficult and as a result, frustrating for players required to do so.
The combat in this game can be quite enjoyable if you don't focus on the aforementioned animations, which are lacking. Usual attacks work fine but there is one major problem with the way they look. While they should feel fluid, they are left feeling stiff and robotic. What might have been an enjoyable and immersive gameplay element is hurt by artificial stiffness. Then there's the fact that it was difficult at times to get your abilities to trigger when pressed, leaving your character vulnerable at the worst times.
So, while the bosses and mobs in the game are well placed and designed, the feeling of fast paced action is dampened by visual and response frustrations.
The Battle Zone
The Battle Zone is probably the most unique aspect of the game worth mentioning. Designed to be similar to PvP in most other MMOs, the system adds the ability to physically select your battleground, from your choice of different maps, to your choice of difficult level.
Soul of the Ultimate Nation is, at least on the surface, a fun and enjoyable MMORPG, but while I found the game to be enjoyable for a while, I soon saw that there was a disappointing lack of depth stemming mainly from a lack of community.
While I saw the fun in many of the game's systems including crafting and combat, I was distracted by an overall feeling of a game that felt stiff and sometimes robotic. Unfortunately, in the competitive world of MMORPGs, SUN just falls short.
Still, the game is free to try and does have some up sides that would appeal more to others than they do to me, so it's probably worth the download if you'd like to see it for yourself.