Calling your game an "unrivaled action RPG" is a pretty daring thing to do. After all, we play in a market that offers games like Vindictus, TERA, Dragon Nest, and Dungeon and Dragons Online. Action-based MMOs are nothing new, really, but they do seem to become more extreme with every new title that comes out. Where Vindictus goes for dark realism and DDO strives for classic gameplay, C9, aka Continent of the Ninth Seal, goes for over-the-top combos and incredible boss battles.
It delivers on its promises for the most part. I've played pretty much every action-based MMO on the market, and so far, the bold claims seem true: Nothing rivals C9's loud, combo-liscious approach to combat. Not all is perfect, of course, but most of the issues I had with the game resulted from art design or customer service. Those areas might be easier to fix than a boring game.
The first thing I noticed when I logged into my pre-leveled account was how pretty everything looked. Some of the faces and character models look totally realistic but still have a stylized flair. My character, a petite Deathdealer lass, brandished a massive scythe and scant clothing. In fact, as soon as I started to enjoy the scenery of C9, I also noticed how little armor my character wore. Look, it's very possible that I am getting too old to enjoy anything from the realm of digital sexiness, but I've pretty much always thought it distasteful when my character is all sexed up. I get zero enjoyment out of seeing digital skin. I tried on some some of the different outfits in my inventory, but none of them covered my bare butt when I ran. I felt icky and unrealistic.
"It's a classic content delivery method that still works, especially with such intense action. Taking down a boss feels like stepping onto a stage and closing with a massive standing ovation."
Bare butt and all, I managed to locate a few local quest-givers, load up on quests, and jump onto an airship that transported me to the different locales. If you've played the previously mentioned Vindictus, you'll be familiar with how C9 works. Basically, you get a quest, go to a dungeon, and defeat any number monsters and a few bosses, gaining glory, experience, and tons of loot along the way. It's a classic content delivery method that still works, especially with such intense action. Taking down a boss feels like stepping onto a stage and closing with a massive standing ovation. Instancing seems appropriate especially because combat like the kind you find in C9 is too intense to maintain for that long. After an adventure or two, I had to stretch and put some ice on my wrists. I'd also love to try the game out with a controller, especially on this newer PC. I think it might work beautifully.
Combos are where it's at in C9. Yes, a player can survive by smashing the heck out of a single mouse button, but when it gets down to harder settings or when a massive boss steps onto the scene, creative combos, accurate attacks, and dutiful dodging are needed to achieve glory. I admit that I really sort of suck when it comes to combat like C9's. If you watch the embedded video, you can see just how bad I can be, but I still think I had enough of a handle on the action to do some serious damage, and that was before I really started messing around with combos and abilities. Clicking the mouse isn't your only method of killing, after all. You'll also have access to a ton of abilities that are linked in your hotbar. As you click, punch, and smash your way through the game, you'll combine your moves with those different powers to create some truly devastating attacks. I've been playing with the game for several days now and am still discovering all of my abilities. I've grown fond of a few and have gotten much better at combat, luckily. Now I can attack a group of monsters in one unending flow of death, spinning and slicing everything in my path.
Boss battles are a blast. I'm used to some pretty tight AI in games like Vindictus or Dragon Nest, but C9's bosses one-up those games with amazing animations and clever abilities. I learned to watch for signs that the boss would be firing off a special ability; players can dodge or block the attacks. Sometimes, I only half-dodged. Fortunately, my scantily clad lady could take several hits. Since I was given a higher-level character, I had fun exploring the different locations offered through the teleporter. With all of the graphics settings turned up, C9 rivals some of the best-looking games out there.
The title does have some issues besides the lack of butt armor, however. Quests are easy enough to follow, but certain descriptions in the UI are just a bit off. The "screen capture" shortcut actually fires up the in-game video capture, for example. I can tolerate a few mis-translations, but I have absolutely zero tolerance for in-game gold spam. I just don't get it, especially these days, when a developer does nothing about in-game gold spam. It seems as though some developers either don't care that their game is being overrun or are powerless to stop it. Here's a thought, developers: Hire someone to walk around on your servers to see the spam and destroy the offender. I know... crazy idea, huh?
"When it comes down to it, most of us just have to ignore the spam. I just don't get how it can exist in any modern title, especially one that is as pretty and potentially immersive as C9."
At the very least, I would love to have a report feature included. Instead, C9 offers a "copy name" feature, I'm guessing so you can add the name to a block list. Unfortunately, the "paste" feature didn't work, and we all know how complicated some of the gold-spammer names can be. When it comes down to it, most of us just have to ignore the spam. I just don't get how it can exist in any modern title, especially one that is as pretty and potentially immersive as C9. Allowing gold spam in a game also feeds the stereotype of a "typical Asian grinder," a term I cannot stand for many reasons.
So other than the obvious butts, gold-spam, and occasionally odd translations, C9 is a supreme blast to play. It looks amazing, and the boss fights can be quite a challenge. The adjustable challenge levels and repeatable instances help players get used to the controls and combos at their own pace. Most of the time I don't feel like pushing myself anyway; I'd rather jump into a dungeon just to kill something to death without much resistance.
If Webzen can get on top of the spam and give me an option to actually cover my female character with some realistic armor, I would give C9 five killer combos out of five. There is no lack of action-based titles on the market, so polish can make all the difference. Heavy-hitters like Nexon do not pull any punches, so Webzen needs to step it up a bit, but even now, players can enjoy a really fun butt-kicker in C9.
Just don't expect the armor to cover your butt.
Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!