Mabinogi Heroes / Vindictus (PC) (2011-Present)
Review by Faididi and Co.
Holy shit, why is the lag so fucking bad?
Trouble stirs in the land of Tir Na Nog, where armies of monsters unite against the forces of humankind. The heroes are fresh recruits in a small mercenary company, and the story follows their adventures as they hold back the enemy onslaught and save the world from the archetypical forces of darkness. The writing starts off decent but becomes increasingly more confused, making the meandering plot even more annoying to follow.
Gameplay: Sucks All Ass
DevCat's Mabinogi Heroes (Vindictus) is an action fighter that's loosely related to the original Mabinogi. Eschewing the earlier MMORPG's broader scope of activities, this spin-off focuses on real-time hack-and-slash combat in the vein of Eyedentity's Dragon Nest, which in turn may be treated as an online multiplayer answer to older console hits like Sony's God of War. The heroes wield various types of weapons that make them play differently, and the raid-type missions feature many bosses who have unique behavior patterns.
For something that's supposed to be all about action, however, the game is crippled by absurd amounts of lag. This is no exaggeration; lag pervades every aspect of Mabinogi Heroes, making attacks and evasive maneuvers impossible to time properly, preventing the party lobbies from loading into missions, and even forcing you to wait through minute-long delays in basic text dialogue for NPCs. The unimpressive level design already divides the dungeons into smaller sections that demand more loading periods, but when one realizes that the raid missions involve no more than 8 Players and one single boss character in a rudimentary arena, this degree of lag is outright inexcusable.
The inconsistent enemy design is nothing worth applauding, either. The moronic punching bags who make up the regular bad guys are spawned literally out of thin air, looking as tacky and lazy as that sounds. The raid bosses lie at the other end of the challenge spectrum, but they're difficult for all the wrong reasons. Their phases of invulnerability come and go without sense, and their attacks must be blocked or dodged on an entirely arbitrary basis. For example, why is a dragon's flame breath blockable but not a giant ogre's thrown spears? Furthermore, the raid bosses' bloated hit points don't make their scenes feel like epic battles as much as they do tedious, overdrawn exercises.
The shitty balancing applies to the heroes themselves, too. The missions' sole objective type of slaying the bosses and nothing else makes offensive power the only trait that matters. This means that Players tend to choose the same few characters and spam the same few moves that deliver the highest attack output, turning every fight dull. Worse still, one of those favored characters, the mage, has an additional aura-like shield that overwhelmingly skews the game in her favor. Because the equipment system eventually allows all the heroes to wear the same types of armor, granting them the same core stats, there is no real reason to bother with the other heroes, who already deal less damage in general yet also lack the mage's defense bonus.
Controls: Sucks All Ass
Mabinogi Heroes should've been a turn-based game instead, because it apparently can't process actions in real time. Not only do the attacks and evasive moves constantly struggle to catch up with the Player input, but the game's failure to read and acknowledge every single command can cause the characters to hang inside skill submenus, interfering with their basic movements. To further piss you off, the lag will cause the special skills' effects to be dropped but still impose cooldown penalties. At this point, Mabinogi Heroes needs to go fuck itself.
Graphics: Sucks All Ass
Don't be fooled by any screenshots; the lag-plagued characters will inevitably jerk and stutter like a bad stop-motion joke. Mabinogi Heroes also has the dubious distinction of featuring temporary armor breakage that's meant more to show off the female characters' bodies, but that only leads to the absurdity of their bare skin and flimsy lingerie being more durable than plate mail, not to mention their armor's status not being actually tied to their endurance levels.
At the same time, the appearance customization is an open scam. As if requiring the purchase of a real-money option for every piece of armor isn't enough, the coloring options work on a gambling system that refuses to give you full control. If you're looking for action where heroines can be dressed up only to become partially stripped afterward, you'd be better off playing a porn game.
The only thing that's decent is the music, because the raid bosses each feature a unique tune. Too bad the music isn't found in a better action fighter.
Overall: Sucks All Ass
Mabinogi Heroes is an abhorrent mess of incessant lag, unplayable controls, imbecilic character balancing, and retarded enemy design. Worthless garbage like this would've been laughed off on consoles years ago.