Game’s down for maintenance right now (again as of 10:30 AM PST), but the good 4 7 hours I had with Vindictus were very pleasant. By pleasant, I mean terrifically gratifying. I murdered hundreds of slobbering gnolls, showering my screen with oily blood and felt amazed. After I started feeling too powerful, the game chucks this magnificent red mega-gnoll and slams a monstrous hammer into my library of extremely cool boss fights. (I forgot to press the screenshot button, sadly.)
At the moment, Vindictus is probably the best F2P starter experience I’ve ever encountered. The tutorial was delightfully epic, the interface is absolutely gorgeous and the gameplay is definitely a part of the next-gen cadre the jaded MMO community has been slobbering for some time for. I paused for a few moments to figure things out, then found myself gently guided by the intelligence behind the game’s flow and into a state of gaming nirvana, where I didn’t feel lost and the only thing keeping me from kicking ass was a load screen.The Source engine is absolutely fantastic for this game, rendering plentiful amounts of gore and mayhem without a hiccup in sight on my mid-range. If there are any significant bugs, I certainly haven’t run into them.
You know what this game is? Really? Super-Badass Phantasy Star Online II TURBO. When I first picked it up, I had this feeling that I had played a game with a similar flow in a past life. Before I started considering what my past form was, I realize that my current life had held the experience. The structure is very similar and easy to work through. While some people may hate Phantasy Star, I enjoy it thoroughly. I remember sitting around in community college with PSPs, playing the living crap out of Phantasy Star Portable and really getting a sense of camaraderie with my friends after we smashed through the content and compared our title tracks to PSPerfect. Vindictus evokes a very similar, “You vs. Epic boss” feel with a small party size of 4 and has plenty of titles that I suspect will become a central motivator for prolonged play, as many of them appear to improve your stats without forcing you to equip them.
Of course, Petualant Pioneering always finds room for complaints, or in this case, a couple observations that are likely to be unfixed due to the nature of the game’s design:
1) Hosting – Unfortunately, there are some limitations to how Vindictus works with parties. Each instance appears to be hosted by the party leader, whose connection and possibly his game performance affects the smoothness of the session. As a result, you’ll be tearing through levels with really choppy animations and fairly glitchy presentation. It is still playable, but it is distracting and it might deter a few ungrateful folks who want perfect animation quality.
2) Can’t turn off the music – The game is very hush-hush for a while up until you hit a boss battle. While Vindictus’s music is fitting for the theme, I like the option to play my own tracks. At the moment, I don’t see a music slider.
3) Yuck, F2P players – Of course, the community is terrible. Nexon’s reach is far and massive, and unfortunately, it has collected many inept wordsmiths and unpleasant scrubs in its process of climbing to the top. On the forum, you’ll find yourself blanketed in bitching about how the servers are down and how Nexon is inherently evil. That or unified against BRs and the usual fodder. I suppose this isn’t that much of a problem, given that you grow intimate with a handful rather than the entire population thanks to the instancing structure, but there’s definately a copious amount of e-penis and measurement of said organ in the future.
Either way, small gripes compared to my glowing adoration for this game in its entirety. If you convince yourself that this game isn’t worth the time to check out just because you want to be different or you happen to have a pet-mmo that will undoubtedly be crushed by Vindictus’s inevitable success, stop, spin 360 degrees and walk away from the path of shameful foolishness.
Also, after you kick, literally in this case, a bosses’s guts out, the game does some dramatic screenshots which you can choose to save afterwards. A nice, sexy touch as demonstrated below.