What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there is plenty of violence in this massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) -- the player receives a sword about 15 minutes into the game -- but there is no blood or gore. However, the violence can be a bit graphic, such as a "smash skill" move that has your character stabbing an enemy with a long sword and then using his boot to kick the injured character off the blade. Since players can talk with one another online, there is an unknown factor of what others will say. Swear words are filtered out (we tried typing them in and it shows up as asterixes in the live chat window). The game doesn't contain sexual content but some of the characters you meet have very large breasts that look a little strange on a girl with a child-like face with big eyes (anime style). While this game is offered for free, you will get nickel and dimed by a series of "micro transactions."
What's it about?
Rather than charging the typical $15 a month to play a massively-multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), Korean-based Nexon Group has a different strategy: give the core game away for free but offer small \"micro transactions\" to players -- a dollar here, two bucks there -- that provide additional weapons, items, skills, and locations. The latest in the company's string of popular games is MABINOGI, an ambitious fantasy MMORPG with an attractive 3-D \"cel-shaded\" anime art style (including pre-rendered cinematics), multiple roles players can partake in (from heroic warriors to humble farmers), and a rich community in which to play together as a small party or specialized guild.
Already a huge success in Asia with more than 7 million players, Mabinogi (http://mabinogi.nexon.net/landing/) utilizes a real-time, mouse-driven combat system, not unlike Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo. After creating a custom character (by selecting a name, face, hair, clothes, and so on) you'll begin exploring a countryside town and trying out your fighting moves on creatures such as foxes and raccoons, but will soon take on missions that pits you against bigger and deadlier beasts. Whether fighting alone or in groups, there is no blood or gore during combat, but the violence can be a bit graphic, such as a \"smash skill\" move that has your character stab an enemy with a long sword and then use their boot to kick it off the blade. Special items, such as potions, can be mapped to the F keys for easy access.
Is it any good?
As characters progress by completing missions, they'll develop skills in one of three categories -- life, combat, and magic -- so while most will likely choose fighting as their modus operandi, players will benefit from additional "ability points" by becoming a prominent member in their community, which can occur when you fish or cook for others. Players can also earn daily "bonuses" (based on the game's clock) and the character will grow taller as they get older (up to 21 years of age). Whether you're a casual player who wants to dabble in a free MMORPG or a hardcore gamer curious to know what all the hoopla is about, we had fun spending three days living in Mabinogi with its attractive graphics, huge world, and intuitive combat system.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about whether Nexon's approach of "micro transactions" is a good for the consumer. Is getting the game for free an appealing advantage over the typical $15 a month for other role-playing games or does this pose more of a nuisance for those who want access to everything up front for a flat monthly fee?