A free Korean MMO without that free Korean MMO bad aftertaste.
Dungeon Runners is NCSoft's latest venture into the MMO world. Previous games include Tabula Rasa, Lineage, Guild Wars, and City of Heroes/Villains. What more could you ask of this MMO giant? How about a completely free game. Just go over to dungeonrunners.com, download the installer, double-click, make an account, and away you go.
[image1]Like most MMOs, this game may take a lot of your time. But unlike most MMOs, it began taking my time well before I started playing. I set the installer going and it predicted that it would finish in 45 minutes. I was a bit annoyed, but I went on with playi...... working on other things. I checked a half an hour later, and it says 105 minutes... 105 FREAKING MINUTES! But I bore the pain like only an intern could. Heck, it was better than doing the dishes... oh, I did those while I was waiting... damn. I asked other players about it later and found out that it had only taken about 15-20 minutes for almost all of them, so I guess it was just my intern-ly bad luck.
After it finally installed, I got to make my character. Dungeon Runners has simplified the average RPG character customization quite a bit. It's down to just five quick choices that really have no effect on the gameplay. There are choices for sex (yes, please), hair style, hair color, name, and class - Warrior, Mage, and Ranger. Which class you choose determines which skills you begin with, but only what you begin with.
This is where Dungeon Runners rebels against the usual MMORPG. You have equal access to the three skill trainers and all equipment in the game no matter what class you choose. You can mix and match all you want and even pay some money to completely re-spec your character, in case you find out you're scared being the tank or think the ranger is too wimpy. Oh, come on, you all know you're going to choose the mage...
The game begins in front of the Noobosaur, the game's NPC that gives a quick run-down of the basics. You can also press F1 at any time for an in-game manual. The HUD contains the usual: health, mana, and experience bars, a mini-map, and a skill bar. If you've played any similar game, it will all come to you very quickly. There are four difficulties in the game ranging from Normal to Insane, with higher difficulties giving better loot drops. Where that giant two-legged rat boss was hiding the huge hammer and other loot during battle is beyond me, unless he... ow...
[image2]That brings me to the best part of the game: the humor. There are numerous pop-culture references and just ridiculously awesome item names, including "The Un-Holy Hand Grenade of Anti-Gosh", "IRing", "Boots Made for Walking", and "Master Chef's Toxic Flood Gun with Great Vengeance and Furious Anger" (10 points to you if you get both references in that last one). During the course of the game, you'll encounter pukers, groupies, and other monsters that you can beat down with your summoned snowman. NPCs are always making jokes or complaining about something while you’re wandering around town.
The game has a more laid-back feel to it than most games of its genre. There's no story to the game, which to tell the truth, I didn't even notice until I was hours into it. Quests are given out by NPCs in the main town and outposts found between dungeons. There's only one main town, but with a 250-person max per server, it never has that crowded feeling often found in other MMOs. With such a small amount of people on each server, it's easy to join a conversation and make a few friends to battle through dungeons with.
If you're of the more competitive type, there is a server dedicated to PvP. Players can enter into a deathmatch that will pair them with others based on the amount of people in their group. Dungeon Runners has taken an odd approach to the PVP that follows the game's casual feel. There is a level 100 cap in the game, but when players enter a PvP match, their levels are automatically changed to level 101. Their inventory is also given a level boost based on how close the item level is to the players' original levels.
Although this evens the playing field quite a bit, it has an unfortunate consequence for those that were already at a high level. The very low-leveled characters receive a small extra boost, which has led PvP to being ruled by "twinks", level 10-15 players decked out in full rainbow (highest rarity) gear. Even with the twinks, though, the PvP is still quite entertaining. My current record with my Lvl 32 mage is 16 wins, 2 ties, and 4 losses. Not too shabby.
[image3]Now if you feel like you absolutely need to have an advantage over everyone else, you’re in luck. Players can sign up for a membership for $5 a month which will grant them better loot drops, more bank space for said loot, the ability to use the rarest equipment, the ability to disable in-game ads, and cutting in front of the queue for log-ins and deathmatch set-ups.
But wait, there’s more! Players can also buy the $20 boxed version of the game at their local game store and receive 6 months of the above membership and access to the Bling Gnome, a small pimped-out gnome who will follow players around dungeons picking up all their gold for them. This little guy can also be told to eat all of the items around, suffer a brief period of constipation, and then crap out their value in gold. My little gnomie-homie took a $15,000 crap the other day, and I'm proud of him, though the thought of all 15,000 gold coins spewing out like that makes me cringe.
And now everyone’s favorite part - the catch - which is actually quite minor. The game’s graphics are dated, but they get the job done. The sound provides basic background music and semi-decent voice-over work. There is currently no guild support, although it is supposedly coming in the next major patch. After a quick survey in the world chat, I found that about one out of five players, including myself, experience lag, which could easily make you lose a PvP match or boss battle, so you’ll need a good connection to play this game.
None of the problems are game-breaking, and many will supposedly be fixed in future updates, which will also bring additional content. Dungeons Runners is a solid MMORPG that doesn't try to be more than it is and that anyone with a sense of humor can enjoy. Now why are you still here? I did tell the game is free, didn’t I?