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[Review-PC]Runes of Magic[MMO]


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April 14, 2009 - Runes of Magic, a massively multiplayer online game from Taiwanese developer Runewaker Entertainment, has raised the bar for free-to-play MMOs; at least, that's what the game's press release states. Growing up, my father always said, "If it's free, it's probably for a good reason." However, while Runes of Magic isn't without its flaws, it proves that sometimes the good things in life are free.


While Runes of Magic allows the obsessive consumer in all of us to use real-money transaction to purchase virtual gear, the game never forces you to buy anything. Since you can grab a wide variety of loot through pure grinding, the game is completely enjoyable if you don't want to spend any money. In addition, most of the gear sold through microtransactions merely provides cosmetic enhancements.


No MMO is complete without a pony.

Before you begin your epic adventure; you must first choose a class. The six available classes include the Knight, Mage, Priest, Rogue, Scout, and Warrior. Because I like bludgeoning people to death with melee weapons, the Warrior class and his tanking skills suited me perfectly. Those that like casting offensive magic would do well picking the Mage. Those that prefer using defensive magic and healing spells will probably fancy the Priest. Players that favor the speediest and most accurate fighters will find a lot to like with the Rogue class. Those that enjoy shooting down their opponents from a distance with bows and arrows should pick the Scout class. Finally, the Knight class is great if you want access to exclusive equipment and heavy armor.


What Runes of Magic offers is a huge variety of quests. Sometimes you will encounter a short mission where a non-playable character will simply ask you to deliver a message to a person on the other side of town or sometimes NPCs will ask you to take down multiple monsters in a distant cave. This variance in quest length breaks up the monotony of doing the same things over and over again. However, players looking for innovative or meaningful story-driven quests all of the time might want to look elsewhere as the quests in Runes of Magic aren't always intricate and are, for the most part, pretty light-hearted. One NPC had me killing 10 beetles so that I could use their eyes to make delicious soup; "a delicacy," he called it.


The world in Runes of Magic, Taborea, isn't terribly original and, for the most part, relies on conventional high-fantasy concepts to create a cohesive setting. Throughout the vast landscapes, you've got forests, mines, castles, windmills, small rural villages, and more. One aspect of Taborea I liked is that each area looks quite distinct. The terrain might be filled with rolling hills, small valleys, rivers, snow-covered mountains, and more. Each layout is different, and so the regions do stick out from one another. The deeper you go in Taborea, the more dangerous monsters you will encounter. Discovering new baddies for the first time in an unknown environment adds to the effect that you're entering a new part of the world.



You need to get closer to use a sword.

The combat in Runes of Magic is pretty standard. You can initiate your standard melee attacks via a double click on the enemy. In addition, you can set your classes' specialized skills to hotkeys. Picking the Warrior, I was able to use special slash attacks, steroid-like buffs, and more. These moves come with differing levels of cool down times. I enjoyed lining these moves up in an effective order so that my chains would do the most damage in the least amount of time possible. As you level up, you will earn new skills that you can add to your arsenal. You can level up through pure grinding, but I found that the most efficient way to gain experience is by doing quests. Luckily, there are tons of quests out there, including daily quests which allow you to tackle quests you've already completed.


While the challenge level in Runes of Magic is pretty balanced, there are some monsters that are impossible to take down by your lonesome. Some bosses will require a small army of brave soldiers to overcome. While I had plenty of fun playing by myself, I found hooking up with others wasn't all that difficult. With the simple click of the right mouse button, you can ask others to join your party or become your friends. From my experience playing Runes of Magic, most people are generally doing their own things, so if you want to go around questing with other people, you should probably join a guild.


When you fight in a party, the experience gained is shared. This means that a low level noob can team up with a higher level player and quickly gain levels as the more experienced one does all of the handy work. You can accept quests together or one player can simply help out the other player complete his personal quest. To do this effectively, players will need to communicate with each other. They can do that easily through the game's built-in party chat system. In addition, locating your ally is also easy as the game's mini-map shows you their whereabouts. When fighting together as a party, you can increase the team's synergy by casting defensive spells on them or trade items with them to keep their equipment from going dull.



Like Titan Quest and Final Fantasy XI, Runes of Magic allows players to choose a secondary character class. This option opens up at level 10. Because my Warrior took a lot of shots to the head, I decided to go with the Priest as my secondary class so I could heal myself. What makes the sub-class feature interesting is that you need to level up each class individually. Players can strengthen their secondary class by switching it to their primary class. While the game allows you to duel wield classes, you won't be able to use all of your primary and secondary class skills at the same time. Rather, each class has exclusive skills, which can only be used when they are set to the primary class, and general skills, from which players can draw on as a secondary class. Because I like to bash things constantly, I largely ignored my Priest side, and therefore my heal ability was pretty weak. But, however you want to level your character is up to you.


Another thing that players can open up after level 10 is the Arcane Transmutor. This optional ability allows players to combine magical stones together to form rarer stones which you can embed into your gear and armor. This device won't appeal to everyone because it does require some serious, specific loot searching and online FAQ reading, but it will definitely interest hardcore RPG players who will do anything to acquire the best equipment.


Big City, here I come!

Rounding out the things you need in an MMO nowadays is a player vs. player system. In North America, Runes of Magic currently features one open PvP server. While you can still participate in the regular NPC quests on this server, defeating human players does not level you up. Rather, the game features an interesting reputation system for PvP. At level 15, you will be able to become a player killer. If you constantly pick fights and kill other players, you will receive a low reputation. Conversely, making this system more complex, slaying players with bad reputation earns you good reputation. Players can identify each other's reputation through a color-coding system. This dynamic aspect is welcome and infuses a morality system into a nonlinear online RPG. Players with low reputation can become neutral or good again if they simply avoid picking fights over long periods of time. They can also earn good reputation by fighting monsters five levels above their own. Being on either side of the moral coin has its advantages / disadvantages. For instance, a low-reputation character will hit harder, but has a greater chance of dropping more loot upon death. However, in an attempt to not discourage microtransactions, items purchased with real money will not be lost upon death.


Visually, the graphics in Runes of Magic aren't terribly spectacular but they more than do their job. The game features bloom lighting so the colors are bright and cheery. One downside to the visuals is that its artistic style is generic. Enemy designs are pretty varied, albeit also uninspired. Through your adventure you will fight bats, spiders, wolves, beetles, and more. While the game has a pleasant color palette and runs pretty well, the textures and polygonal count isn't anything to really get too excited about.


On the auditory front, the game's a mixed bag. While the music is actually pretty good, for whatever reason, it's not always there. In addition, the game also lacks a large number of sound effects like walking, horse riding, woodcutting, and more. What you're left with sometimes is awkward silence. When the music is in action, you will hear orchestrated strings and harps. It's actually really sweeping at times, although not particularly memorable.


Hammer time.

While the game has a lot going for it, it does have a couple of problems worth noting. I encountered several times where the game had trouble finding the servers. Another quandary I had with the game was that since the world is pretty large, some regions didn't seem very fleshed-out and the higher level areas were a little devoid of life in terms of NPCs and real-life players. However, it is important to note that this MMO is still in its baby stages, and Runewaker Entertainment is promising free updates later on down the road, so the game could very well age like a fine wine over time.


Another slight problem I had with the game is with its interface. While the interface is completely functional and extremely customizable, if you are new to MMOs, it will probably overwhelm you. Although Runes of Magic isn't a bad game for beginners, you can tell that Runewaker Entertainment already assumed you've played an MMO before. The cluttered layout does give you plenty of control and information, but it is very unintuitive. In addition, if you were looking for an interesting and immersive narrative, you will be disappointed here. While there is some attempt at creating a cohesive, overarching story, the text is largely filler copy used as excuses for NPCs to give you missions.


Closing Comments

While Runes of Magic isn't the most polished or original MMO on the market, it does a lot of things right. The game is deep enough to appeal to hardcore veterans, yet is also flexible and addictive enough to appeal to more casual fans. If you're seeking a game to scratch your primitive level grinding and loot hording itch, Runes of Magic is precisely what the doctor ordered. In addition, the game offers a wide breadth of options to the player who desires to seek it out. At its worst, Runes of Magic is a solid, by-the-books affair. At its best, Runes of Magic is a surprisingly deep game and is a great showcase for what a free-to-play MMO can be. Check it out; what do you have to lose?



6.5 Presentation

The story isn't engaging, the game isn't very original, the menus are pretty cluttered. But the game does offer a lot of customizability and hey, it's free.

7.0 Graphics

The colors are bright and cheery, the landscape is vast, and the game runs smoothly. However, the art design is pretty generic and the graphics technology isn't going to turn any heads.

7.0 Sound

When the music is pumping, you are treated to an orchestral delight. However, the music isn't always on and many sound effects are missing.

8.0 Gameplay

The game is not very original, but it's still a surprisingly fun, deep game that offers a wide breadth of options to RPG fans. It really is quite an accomplishment for a free MMO.

8.0 Lasting Appeal

The world is quite large, there's a lot of gear to collect, and there are 50 levels to gain.



(out of 10 / not an average)


Review taken from IGN.

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I 've tried it... at first it looks promising ! It has a lot of new features!! Good Skills and Great Professions!! But....the graphics are copy paste WOW....and there are NO RACES to choose only humans :( , the only good thing is that it is FREE. I got to lvl 15 afterwards i got bored thought :(


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