Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
If it’s one thing the Koreans are known for, it’s their passion for games, both making them and playing them. If you’re not familiar with Nexon, they’re masterminds behind MapleStory and Mabinogi, both free-to-play online games. One of their more recent titles Vindictus from 2010, however, redefined the company’s focus on gaming excellence with a new graphics and physics engine while following Nexon’s traditional free-to-play model.
Vindictus is set in the same universe as Mabinogi, acting as a prequel of sorts, taking place centuries before. Vindictus is divided currently into two “seasons,” the first one following the main storyline of a war-torn world where humans try to eradicate demonic monsters called Fomors in attempts to seek deliverance onto Erinn, turning their planet into one of paradise and peace. The second season is an alternate timeline, whisking the player off to the distant island of Malina where they can fight pirates and new monsters.
You take up arms as a rookie mercenary, sent forth to fight the Fomors and other humans, all the while showcasing the game’s superb physics courtesy of the Source engine. For a free-to-play game, Vindictus is probably one of the highest quality games of its kind that you’ll be able to find. Not only is it pleasant to look at, but the combat (and thus, the majority of the gameplay) seeks to show off the amazing physics.
Anything within your reach, provided you have the necessary strength, can be picked up and wielded as a weapon. Instead of just carving a path through a group of oncoming, rabid gnolls, why not pick up a barrel and throw it their way? Why not a broken sign post and sweep them away in one mighty brush stroke of splintery justice?
Even if you’re not a ranged character, melee players are also armed with throwable weapons, ranging from bombs to javelins, to many other options. And nothing is as satisfying as pinning a foe with a well-placed throwing spear. Well, maybe picking them up and pile driving their head into the ground or slamming them into a wall and stomping them into what was once their chest cavity. Yeah. You can do that.
Along with the combat itself, the physics engine offers up environmental puzzles and a variety of traps like rolling stone columns or swinging, spiky logs of death. Just as you can use the environment against your opponents, they can use it against you as well.
As far as microtransactions go, they seem to be mainly geared towards cosmetic options for your characters, unlocking tons of different hairstyles and colors and dye options for your clothing to choose from, so you can look fabulous while smacking the Fomors around.
In order to keep lag down and the game story-driven, Vindictus follows the same approach as the original Guild Wars, offering instanced quests that you can go through alone or with friends. That said, the game is fun if you’re playing by yourself, but even more so when you’ve got a few buddies to play with.
The only problems that are really evident with this title are some minor texture popping and server instabilities. Sometimes (at least from my experience), I’ll randomly disconnect or encounter lag-spikes, but that’s nothing new when dealing with online gaming.
Overall, Vindictus is a fantastic free-to-play game that everyone with a PC should try at least once, especially those who are fans of Eastern RPGs. After all, the game’s free, so what do you have to lose?