The search for the best free mmo — Mabinogi

This one is actu­ally a bit out of order, Vin­dic­tus is the sequel to Mabinogi, how­ever it was reviewed first. That’s because there’s really no pat­tern to which game will be reviewed next, there’s just a big list of games to be reviewed (in no par­tic­u­lar order). That being said, there’s no rea­son to skip over this review; Mabinogi is a wholly dif­fer­ent game from Vin­dic­tus. The only things the two games have in com­mon are the set­ting, and the aim of the com­bat sys­tems (both games try to pro­vide a more active com­bat expe­ri­ence than a typ­i­cal MMO, Vin­dic­tus is more suc­cess­ful in that regard; hav­ing the best com­bat of any action MMO to date). Vin­dic­tus really is about the com­bat, while Mabinogi attempts to pro­vide more of a vir­tual life. While the capa­bil­ity is pro­vided in both games, you’re far more likely to see peo­ple gath­ered around a camp­fire chat­ting, telling sto­ries, shar­ing food and the like in Mabinogi than you are in Vin­dic­tus, and while the goals of the com­bat sys­tems are sim­i­lar, Mabinogi fea­tures much slower paced, more delib­er­ate com­bat than Vin­dic­tus.

In Mabinogi you select from one of three basic com­bat skills (there are more, but three in par­tic­u­lar form the base of the sys­tem), you have a basic attack, which will beat out a slow attack, which will beat the block, that blocks the basic attack. It’s heav­ily styled on rock paper scis­sors, it gets more com­pli­cated once there are more skills to play with, but that’s the gist of it.

Acquir­ing skills is a bit tougher in Mabinogi than most games, requir­ing you to find spe­cific NPCs that teach spe­cific skills, or some­times just dis­cov­er­ing the skill as you find the appro­pri­ate tools. The sheer num­ber of skills is stag­ger­ing, and your char­ac­ter ages as well as lev­els up. You get skill points as you age, and the max age is around 25, but you can be “reborn” as a younger ver­sion of your­self, which will allow you to once again get those skill points, so really, there is no limit to how many skills you can max out in the game, but due to the time it takes to learn spe­cific skills, you’re best off spe­cial­iz­ing your­self into one or two gen­eral avenues of play at first, and learn­ing a larger breadth of skills later.

Where Vin­dic­tus pro­vides an amaz­ing com­bat sys­tem, Mabinogi pro­vides an amaz­ing craft­ing sys­tem. Craft­ing in Mabinogi starts by col­lect­ing mate­ri­als (as it often does), you then grab a schematic (or pat­tern, mold, what have you), and tools (some can be car­ried with you, other tools are fea­tures of build­ings, like wind­mills). Much like in older MMOs, you have a chance of fail­ing and wast­ing your mate­ri­als, how­ever, unlike in older MMOs this will not destroy your final prod­uct. It takes sev­eral suc­cess­ful attempts to make a prod­uct, but the num­ber of times you fail in between is some­what incon­se­quen­tial, the over­all qual­ity of the prod­uct is deter­mined by a mini game at the end of the craft­ing. Tai­lor­ing for instance will require you to sew up the last few stitches accu­rately and quickly, while cook­ing is depen­dent on get­ting the ratio of ingre­di­ents just right. What­ever the mini-​​game, if you do well you can pro­duce an item with a much higher qual­ity (and as such, bet­ter stats) than what a player might ordi­nar­ily find, or buy. Higher skill lev­els make the mini game eas­ier, but it is quite pos­si­ble to make a very high qual­ity prod­uct at low levels.

Mabinogi has a store where you can pur­chase things such as pets, new hair styles, increased inven­tory, and the like, while many of the things sold will make your life in the world of Mabinogi much eas­ier (reduced death penal­ties for instance), it is not required to reach your max­i­mum lev­els. It is, how­ever, required to expe­ri­ence the story quests, so minus points there. But if you can put up with it’s quirks, and the age of the title, Mabinogi is a good solid choice for a free MMO.

Although I do rate the sound of every game I play, I don’t always talk about it. In Mabinogi, sound plays a piv­otal role, it can give you a warn­ing about when an enemy is going to use a skill, and there are even two craft­ing skills ded­i­cated to sound. Musi­cians can play music com­posed by com­posers (and many musi­cians are also com­posers) on a vari­ety of instru­ments in the game. While the sound effects in the game are not the most real­is­tic I’ve ever heard, they ARE, how­ever, per­fectly appro­pri­ate for the game, and the music-​​based “life skills” are impressive!

Start your free account at http://​mabinogi​.nexon​.net/

Mabinogi (as a free title)
A combination of the reviewer's bias, and the objective score
Some games are more than the sum of their parts, this cat­e­gory allows the reviewer to reflect that in his over­all rating.
How fun is the game
How good does the game look?
Sound effects, music, etc.
How long can you play this game before you need to take a break?
An aver­age of the game­play, sound, graph­ics, and replaya­bil­ity categories.

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