It would appear that Nexon weren’t the only developers with an action-orientated Fantasy MMORPG on the release track; Webzen opened the doors to its VVIP Beta Event last week giving selected members of the press a chance to take a first-hand look at C9: Continent of the Ninth Seal before the VIP event on February 4th.
Positioned in the same arena as Vindictus XE and Dragon Nest, C9 is the latest entry into the action MMO arena — a relatively new area of online gaming that offers a more active, combat-orientated experience — which, while similar to its predecessors, does manage to innovate enough to be enjoyable. Sometimes. A little bit. Occasionally. Okay, not that much at all really. And, regrettably, that only my first gripe.
C9 begins with the selection of your character, offering a choice between the traditional Warrior, Hunter and Shaman archetypes, with a decent amount of customisation available for all 3 and not a lot else. What follows is a mildly confusing blend of in-game cutscenes, poorly translated attempts at dialogue and story, and a tutorial level designed to familiarize players with the basic modes of combat. I’m sure you’ve see it all before. There not a lot of ‘new’ in the beginning areas of C9, and the less-than-impressive visuals make for an overly unpleasant introduction to the game.
Following the introduction area, players arrive in a ‘hub’ town (another standardised element of this sub-genre) that serves as a place to learn new skills, obtain new quests, access a variety of stores and interact with NPCs that will instruct you how to craft new items, weapons and armour using items found within the combat areas of the game.
These combat areas, commonly referred to as dungeons or rooms, are the key to the action MMORPG genre. While in a standard MMORPG players have access to an entire persistent world, the action-MMORPG breaks the world up into several smaller pieces, all directly linked to, and accessible via, the ‘hub’ town.
As such, a typical hour in a game of this style will see you leave the town via one of the available ‘portals’, select a dungeon, kill an onslaught of enemies, collect a bunch of treasure, slay a the boss and return to town to upgrade your character and empty your inventory before heading back to the portal to start it all over again.
C9 is no different, and veteran players will find that they’ve completed this cycle (and the same dungeons) thousands of times before the end. It repetitive and monotonous, something like working in a call centre without the paycheck at the end of the month, but as seen in Nexon releases, careful implementation of this style can prove hugely effective, and equally successful.
At the time of writing, C9 has not yet achieved this goal. While it offers the same experience as its competition, including the ability to customise dungeon elements like difficulty and party size before entering, it fails to provide the same level of polish and precision as others in the genre, and overall, offers a significantly less enjoyable experience.
Of course, this early in the game, you could put my verdict down to my own personal opinion and obvious fondness for Vindictus XE and Dragon Nest, but you’d be making a terrible mistake if you did.
Though I do expect C9 to improve considerably over the coming months, the harsh truth today is that Nexon titles in their current state offer a vastly superior level of story, narrative, character development, monster variety, UI accessibility and general combat epicness than C9, and there no way I could, in good conscience, recommend it to anyone looking for an action-MMORPG.
I’ll be following C9 progress over the coming months, and should my opinion change, you’ll be the first to know.