The free-to-play massively multiplayer online game market has been flooded in recent times with games spanning different genres. Some of the more popular genres to enter this realm have been the beat-'em-up and hack 'n slash, with such titles as Dungeon Fighter Online and Vindictus paving the way.
Recently, I got to check out Perfect World Entertainment's upcoming free-to-play hack 'n slash MMORPG Rusty Hearts, and was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
Rusty Hearts (PC)
Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
Release date: July 27, 2011 (closed beta)
To start off, I was really blown away by the graphics. The world is fully realized with a strong and unifying aesthetic. There's a definitive Victorian-fantasy-era European look and feel to the town. Characters are intricately detailed; they emote and animate smoothly and expressively. The graphical fidelity is impressive, boasting nice shadowing and particle effects on the characters and environments. Even when set to the lowest, the visuals still manage to hold up like a mid-era PlayStation 2 release.
The game had three characters to choose from: Frantz, Tude, and Angela. Frantz seemed to be a medium speed attacker with medium range. Tude had a much lower attack range than Frantz, but had more attacks to his normal combo, and was a lot faster. Angela was the character I spent the most time using. Angela is much slower -- wielding a large magic sword -- but her range is superior, even if her combo is shorter. Her skills mainly lay in magical and elemental attacks.
The characters' skills can be used to help control crowds and extend the length of an attack combo string. With Angela, for example, after the third attack with my sword, I could quickly hit the hotkey to cast the Firewall spell -- which knocks nearby enemies into the air -- and continue to juggle them after, or follow up with another skill. Each character can unlock the use of a second weapon type when they reach a specified level, and these weapons will change up how the character attacks both normally and when using their skills.
This plays into one of the ways that Rusty Hearts ranks you after a level. The longer and more intense your combos are, the more you build up style points. These ultimately affect your ranking at the end of a level, and getting hit will count against this ranking. Some challenge side-quests ask you to go through the same level and achieve at least a certain rank at the end.
The combat was enjoyable, too. Each level is split up into sections, with a mob of enemies spawning in each section. You can move on when you defeat all the enemies in that section, the final usually containing a boss or mini-boss. Things start off simply enough, with only skeleton soldiers that are easily grouped up and dispatched. Later levels require you to think a bit more about your approach and tactics, by introducing other opponents such as ranged archers, or giants like The Butcher which have harder-to-interrupt attacks and can knock you off your feet.
I also got to try the versus modes. Eight players can duke it out either as teams or going solo in a variety of modes. There's the usual Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, where players compete to gain the most kills first. Solo Survival is more of a last-man-standing mode, and Team Survival is a fight to see which team can knock out all of the competing players first.
The last mode I got to see was the VIP Fight mode, where one player on each team is the VIP, and the goal is to protect your VIP and defeat the enemy VIP. I had fun playing all of these. The chaos ramped up fast, and at times I found it hard to land hits on my intended targets as everyone kept moving around and dodging. It looks like the kind of game where things could follow a flow much like you would in a fighting game, and that kind of depth is always welcome in my book.
I did notice a few glitches and hiccups during my playtime, mainly chat lagging the game, and some stuttering when loading enemies in a new section. I was unable to determine if that was just from my computer or if it was the game itself. I played on a pre-beta build though, so hopefully if it was an issue with the game that will be ironed out by the time it sees a final release.
Other than those few things, the game ran smoothly, and there was little to no lag that could be detected in either cooperative or versus game modes. Rusty Hearts enters closed beta testing today, and you can grab a free code from us right now!.