Dungeon Fighter Online (PC) Review

Author: Adrian Estergaard
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/dfo_pc/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

With free-to-play games exploding over the last few years, Nexon has been leading the pack with their stable of games - MapleStory, Combat Arms, Mabinogi and PopTag! These titles are free to download and cover a range of interests from cutesy fantasy RPG to first-person shooter and even a not-quite-Bomberman game that really defies all other definition.

Armed with a Nexon account, gamers can tuck into a full meal of action, adventure and more, but with the spices and desserts all locked away behind the micro-payment system that has kept Nexon afloat despite their free-to-play system. It's an interesting setup that offers a lot of slightly lower-quality gameplay for free, while giving players the option to invest some cash to power up, or just dress up, their character. These games are, basically, as free as you want them to be.

Now Nexon's newest port, Dungeon Fighter Online, is stepping up to the plate on June 9 to deliver a slightly more mature fantasy-ish RPG for those tired of the cuteness od MapleStory or Mabinogi.  The world of Arad, which is the surprisingly bright and cheerful underworld of Empyrean, has been tossed like a salad by a cataclysmic event called the Devolution. This has left monsters all over, sources of power sealed away, mysteries in abundance, and a niche just waiting for a few brooding heroes with an urge to save the day and look good doing it.

Dungeon Fighter Online is, at its core, a beat-em-up with a range of anime-styled characters to choose from. There are Fighters and Slayers for some in-your-face tactics, Priests for softcore clobbering with some healing and buffing on the side, Mages for big-time boom-boom skills, and Gunners (male or female) for ranged combat. Think River City Ransom all jazzed up and hurled into the deep end of the online swimming pool. Each class also splits into three variants at L18, letting you focus on your favourite gameplay style, and each of those 'Awaken' into new classes at L48 before hitting the game's current cap at L50. And, of course, the characters, and most NPCs, are eye candy of one flavour or another. From the buff emo Slayer to the oh-so jiggly Fighter, the loli Mage, and the burly Priest with his impressive crotch cross.

To Nexon's credit, it's an equal opportunity game featuring just about as many hot guys wearing nearly nothing as girls wearing the same.

Playing DFO feels a lot like Blizzard's Diablo games, from being chased by mobs of enemies as you struggle for good ground to fight back, to frantic boss fights, right down to sets of gear, red and blue health/mana bubbles.  There's even that  'cha-ching!' noise when an enemy explodes! Each new area in town has a handful of dungeons with enough different environmental obstacles and monsters to keep things interesting. You'll spend plenty of time bashing goblins in the face, so being able to throw boulders at them or throw the little guys into a poison swamp keeps things interesting.

There is a lot of solid gameplay waiting in DFO, and you can spend hours grinding to get rare items, gear sets, or to simply stock up on healing items before a challenging dungeon crawl.  With the old-school graphics, all it takes is an Internet connection and a computer with a pulse.  And this 2D brawler comes with a story.

The world of Arad unfolds through 'Epic' quests, letting you find out ever greater sources of trouble as you level towards 50.  While not as epic as some other MMOs out there, every task gives you something to keep you engaged as you clobber your 384th dragonling, 616th goblin or grind through a dungeon to take out a boss for the fourth time to rack up boss kills for a quest!  Tedium isn't a big issue, surprisingly, thanks to some satisfyingly destructive abilities.

Dungeon Fighter Online also has a commmunity aspect to it. The simplest form is joining a party to go dungeon crawling with. All it takes is a click or two, with the built-in treasure balancing and Noob-o-Meter minimizing power-leveling, ensuring no one can ride the coattails of a super high-level buddy for long.  You can also form guilds if you get motivated, or face other players in PVP for Victory Points, which can be spent on special items.  You've even got gold merchants to put up with, for the full MMO experience!

So, while DFO is free to play, it has a wide range of things you can only get via spending real money on micro-payment items. Some of these are optional, like avatar hairstyles and hats, while others are more gameplay-centric, like paying to get a bigger storage locker for stuff you don't want to carry around, or clothing that gives in-game benefits. You can also buy tokens that basically give you extra lives, letting you hop back onto your feet when the monsters get the better of you! These really add to the feeling that the game is there to be beaten and, if your mad skills are a bit lacking, you can make up for it with a couple bucks here and there.

For those waiting for Diablo III, the bottomless pit of monster-bashing and power-ups that is Dungeon Fighter Online should tide you over quite nicely. It might even get you hooked.  Nexon has had plenty of time to test the Western waters, leading up to an official launch on June 9 -- that'd be tomorrow. The Korean-based company, known for cutesy games, deviated a bit from the familiar path in creating DFO, evidenced by the entire game's overall design.  The action is solid, there are plenty of powers to load up on and unleash onto hordes of monsters.  The question is, with the temptation to dip into your wallet for some Nexon cash to buy upgrades nibbling at your toes as you play, how long will Dungeon Fighter Online really be free for you? 


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