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Reviews of computer games
A Beautiful Disaster: Vindictus
League of Legendary Elitism
Did ‘Homefront’ predict the future?
A Brief on Pirates of the Burning Sea
The Best of Gaming Horror Part IV. – “Dino Crisis”
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A Beautiful Disaster: Vindictus
Launched in late 2010 Vindictus is a Free to Play, Action-RPG. The game uses the Source Engine, which was developed by Valve Corporation originally to run Counter Strike and Half Life 2, but now is used in current games such as Portal 2. Because of this, Vindictus is a very pretty looking game with fluid movement for your button mashing skills.

Vindictus is a fantasy themed MMO, where you play as one of three characters; Lann, Fiona or Evie. While these characters represent certain arch types, the game's fast pace and movement functions doesn’t mean you have to rely on a balanced party. Lann is a dual wielding fighter, with the largest HP of the three and can dash out of the way of a monsters swing, though he has no real block option. Fiona takes on the defensive approach, as she eventually gains various block and counter attack type features, while Evie has the smallest HP as a caster, she also has the ability to sacrifice her health to heal others (though this feature is rarely ever needed with an experienced group).

Armor note: While you start in Cloth or Light Armor, at level 10 you’ll be able to learn to equip any armor type, though heavy armor rarely has INT stats so it’s not too tempting to use plate on Evie, though you can.

With so much sounding positive about this game I couldn’t get past the horrible UI and overly goofy anime theme. The first issue with Vindictus started with the game’s launcher system. Once installed you click the Vindictus icon on your desktop. This opens up the games website in your default browser. On their website you login and select either West or East servers to play on. Click your choice and the game then loads. This is not a browser based game.

The second issue is that like many anime based games we began with a character creator that let me pick the largest bust size possible for either female, with the only other options being hair style and skin color. Micro transactions allow more hair styles as well as various underwear types, for when armor breaks in game (which does look very cool), but then you have ruffled panties and lace bows, as apparently that’s what female warriors like to wear. Boxer-briefs are available for Lann.

Once in game you’re given the option of choosing between Keyboard and Mouse or strictly Keyboard play, which adjusts your button configurations. I chose the Keyboard and Mouse option, which defaults to a FPS type of setup. The mouse movement controls my look and direction, with WASD causing me to move and turn, E and R will interact with objects and monsters while the number keys 1 through 7 are my quick slots. This was fine, but then some interactions on the screen require you to use your mouse pointer, so you hit Escape, which removes the mouse look feature and gives you a pointer on the screen to interact with. You hit Escape again to go back.

Note: To get to any video or control options you have to hit Escape and then click on the arrows in the bottom left corner of the screen. Also, alt-tab sometimes would work, and sometimes would not work within the game, I couldn’t pin point an actual way to ensure it always worked.

For Lann and Fiona, gameplay is rather straight forward, with your primary mouse buttons creating fast or strong attacks that when chained together will do additional moves. Hitting both buttons together while next to an enemy will grab them changing your attacks to punches and kicks. Unfortunately Evie wasn’t loved. While you can move while casting her default magic attack, you’ll often need to stand still, click the right mouse button, which will then change your WASD keys to a new set that allows you to select the different magic spells using W and then pressing S will cast it. It’s not intuitive at all, but after a while you can get the hang of it, though you’ll more than likely wish you were playing Fiona or Lann.

The NPCs in Vindictus are all 2D drawings with scrolling text underneath them which you will have to manually click on to progress. It gives you the feeling of suddenly playing one of the early 90’s RPGs such as Final Fantasy. When walking around the first town it’s worth mentioning that the Cat is who you “talk” with to access the Avatar Shop and the Pig will display the Market Place (Auction House).

Most of the gameplay in Vindictus is rather simple. You’ll talk to a few people in town, which will unlock some related quest. You exit the town and take a boat to the quest area (instance). One of the main functions of Vindictus is that you get to instances by boat. So you won’t spend your time wondering around a world. This isn’t actually a bad thing in the game as instances, even ones you have already played before, tend to have different encounters depending on the difficulty you set them too. Higher difficulty equates to more drops.

Drops are used to complete quests, though most can be used to craft various types of gear. Though you’re character doesn’t have to skill up any type of crafting, rather as you progress through the game various shops will unlock new patterns. You’ll then take your materials to a place like the forge, where they can make you some new armor. Different shops will craft different types of gear.

There are a lot of cool features within the game, such as enhancing equipment, also most gear isn’t bound to a character so you can give that awesome sword you out leveled to an alt that can use it or a friend joining you. The instances allow for you to play them solo, or with up to four people and various “Oaths” or challenges, can be applied to your instance to increase difficulty and rewards. Replay value is there as well as many dungeons also have new challenges for the “Hard” mode as well. Boss fights at the end of story arcs can be very epic feeling, taking anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes solo as you attack, run away, block, and in general use a good mix of all your abilities, potions and skill.

Unfortunately Vindictus doesn’t just have an awkward launcher, poor caster UI and goofy anime themes. It also relies on P2P connections for all instances. This doesn’t sound like a bad idea at first given it is an action-rpg, but unfortunately many DSL connections won’t be fast enough to support the instances. While you won’t have any trouble as a soloist in this world, the minute you join a party you’re latency can become un-play-ably high, and while you can host a party, you’re connection will more than likely not support the other players, causing them to drop out. I found this very odd as I play many MMO’s, as well as games such as Guild Wars and have never had any problems with my connection. I even attempted to try using Leatrix, which made no difference. I can’t recommend this game to anyone who doesn’t at least have a cable modem connection.

The DSL in my area provides a 768k connection, I’m not very close to the main drop, so when I download a file it’s typically around 80k/sec on the download speed. This connection couldn’t support any groups nor could I join a group and be playable. Often what I would do is join a group and sit AFK in order to get the group completion (many people have this same connection issue so it’s not frowned on). Then I would play through it again in solo mode to actually get the quest item I needed and some crafting mats.

While I can’t recommend this game to anyone with a slow connection, if you have a cable modem or a fast DSL connection you may want to give Vindictus a try as a way of passing the time until a game you really want to play comes out. While the game is soon to be launching a fourth character option in June, I may log in to see what it’s about, but I think I’ll be moving on and focusing on other adventures for now.
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