There are quite a few side-scrolling action MMOs on the market today. As time goes along, they seem to get more and more over-the-top. Elsword Online is staying very much in step with this tradition, looking more like a violent cartoon than a video game. Still, we were happy to sit down with developer/publisher Kill3rCombo to smash some baddies.

While there were a few initial technical difficulties and issues that prevented us from participating in PvP, we were able to run through the tutorial area and a few dungeons. If you are familiar with some of the other popular scrollers like Dragonica and games like Grand Chase (a game that was developed by half of Kill3rCombo) then you will be ready for Elsword.

That is, until the combos start. Oh, the combos!
A new player will be able to choose from three basic classes, at least at first. You'll find a character with a sword, a magic-user, and an archer. All of the characters stay true to a manga look and style, and even the voiceovers were left untranslated because the developers found that gamers who tested the game preferred to hear the foreign language with subtitles -- perhaps because it reminded them of some of their favorite animated shows. Cutscenes are frequent, and the foreign language and subtitles make it feel as if you're watching an animated movie. It's all fun, bright and fast. And loud.

Although the world is explored mostly vertically, it doesn't feel that way. The game's spaces and special effects are quite pretty, so you will not feel much different than you would in a traditional 3-D space. Sometimes the 2-D space gets in the way, though, by hiding some of the coolest moments in the game. During combat I would fire off some sort of major combo and the screen would slow it down and capture it like some kind of bullet-time comic book, then a nice fat tree would block my vision or disrupt the effect. Still, it happened only rarely, and the fact that the game is in closed beta made me feel that the team will take care of the problem.

As we fought in a group of four players, it became obvious that players will be in a battle just to one-up each other. I would hit A, S, or D to perform some radical maneuver, only to be impressed by another player's special move. You don't have to worry about bumping into each other or realistic physics; the name of the game is fast, silly combat mixed with a manga comic book. The first stage we were in required us to go through a couple of basic kill quests before going to the next area, and we managed to jump in and kill a few impressive bosses in order to do more.

The funny thing is that the bosses we saw and the abilities that we played with were relatively low-level items. So if the characters were already feeling this powerful at levels 1 through 20, then I can only imagine how outrageous they might be at max level. Also, characters will age slightly -- their hair grows longer, their voices become deeper, and even the way they move becomes more "serious." I was given some level 20 armor to try on, and it looked crazy. It was spiky, black and red, and dangerous-looking. Nothing, it seems, is merely average-looking in Elsword.

You can eventually pick a second job, one on top of your main class choice. Since my character was a sword-wielding maniac, he was able to branch out to become a magic-and-melee type of character who stands around with fire playfully spouting from one hand. For comparison's sake, another writer had the same character but went for a melee concentration, resulting in a character that looked and moved differently. It was a subtle difference, but enough to make each character relatively unique. When I asked about more customization, the developers indicated that more customization options and the cash shop would be coming in the later beta. I would love to see what sort of items the shop will sell.

Elsword is obviously a game for quick bouts of play or for long sessions of grinding on mobs. We've seen a lot of these tricks before, but Elsword seems to take everything one notch higher. Animations are fluid and fun, combat is simple to get into, and enemies are plentiful and challenging. You can set the difficulty higher for a certain dungeon and replay it. Mobs will also automatically grow stronger if you re-visit a familiar place.

If you're looking for a fast, edge-of-your-seat button-masher, Elsword Online is perfect. This grizzled side-scroller veteran is happy to see a game that ramps up the fun and excitement (and explosion factor) without abandoning the basics. If this is closed beta, then I can't wait to see the game after some more patching and tweaking.

You can visit the official site and sign up for closed beta testing right now. Check out the video while you're there and read up on the game!

This article was originally published on Massively.
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