There’s a new(ish) MMORPG on the block that goes by the name of 9Dragons. Until last week it was a closed beta, but it’s now available to the public in all it’s open beta, World of Warcraft-ish glory. I tested it out over the weekend; while is has a few kinks, it’s certainly a worthwhile game that has many hours of exploration and story built into it. In a nutshell, one could think of this game as a World of Warcraft clone, but it’s free and with kung fu. I dig it.

One of the main reasons I tried this game is because it’s free; as you may know, I’m all about the free stuff. I was a fan of World of Warcraft but I couldn’t justify paying the monthly server fee only to play it on the occassional weekend, usually for 8 or so hours straight, much to the dismay of my wife. Fortunately, 9Dragons is different. There’s no fee to download the game, whereas you have to pay for WoW, nor is there a server fee of any kind. So how do they do it? Ads. Yeah, I know, ads suck, but when you compare the ads displayed compared to the quality of the product, it’s well worth it.

So how does this ad platform work? It’s pretty simple, and mostly unobtrusive. When you start the game, you see an ad for 5-10 second before you get to the character screen. Once you’re in the game, you’ll see an ad as you travel between zones and while you’re resting. That’s it. Like I said, they’re fairly unobtrusive and, so far, the only ad displayed is the logo for 9Dragons’ developer, Acclaim.

The graphics in the game are very solid. The character models seem similar to WoW, but feature only east-Asian humans as opposed to Night Elves, Taurens, etc. The character movements are smooth, the ground textures and grass are nice but not over the top, and combat is fairly realistic - strikes from the player will knock the enemy back with a loose degree of accuracy. Of course, all of this will depend on the user’s machine as well.

The second reason I became interested in the game is that it’s all about kung fu. There are nine different clans; six to choose from initially, then three elite clans for those who have no lives and can play all day extremely high level characters. Each clan has its own special variety of kung fu, with their own philosophies. I decided to join The Brotherhood of Thieves, whose objective is to take down the corrupt government and redistribute wealth amongst the masses. The initial clan selection process is a little confusing as you have to pick a clan/location when you create your character, then pick the spot again when you’re done going through the training, but meh - no biggie. To the delight of lonely 13 year old boys, all of the NPCs are well constructed (by which I mean, the women have big boobs). Seriously though, they’re all detailed nicely and have fluid animations.

Some of the text in the game is a bit off, for a couple of reasons. Sometimes there are translation errors, where items aren’t exactly in English; sometimes the text runs out of the box in which it’s contained, which just looks a bit sloppy; other times there are simple misspellings are could easily be fixed, but it’s a shame they weren’t caught in the first place. That being said, the text issues haven’t been a big deal except once when I chose the wrong item from a successful quest.

I’ve played the game for about 10 hours and, so far, the quests haven’t been too involved; there’ve been no dungeons or caves to dwell in thus far. Most quests to this point involve favors/deliveries ala Animal Crossing, or hunting and gathering animal skins and the like. I’d like to see a big quest soon, though, to make the game more interesting.

Unlike WoW where the keyboard is used for travelling, your character in 9Dragons is controlled with the mouse - simply point and click to tell your character where to go. Such control has its ups and downs. This took about 2 minutes to get used to initially, then another 20 minutes or so to properly use the right-click camera angles.

Enemies in 9Dragons, so far, are mostly idiots; that is, they don’t go out of their way to kill you. I often approach one thief, who stand right next to another, and wail on him while the other thief walks around aimlessly. Don’t get me wrong - I wouldn’t stand a chance against a pack of ‘em, so if it weren’t for the mindlessness of these drones then I’d be toast - but I’d like to see a little more cooperativeness between enemy alliances. Perhaps I’ll see more of that as I venture further into the game.

Recovering from enemy attacks is easy enough - every character has the ability to meditate, which restores vital energy and chi, which could be likened to mana. Occassionally, your character will suffer from harsh internal and external wounds; this prevents you from restoring all of your health to the fullest extent until you see a doctor to mend your wounds. You can meditate as frequently as you’d like, but if you’re attacked while meditating then you’ll receive more damage than usual.

There’s no armor in the game, but the clothing options available are quite neat. Though there are only three sets of clothes to start with, you can buy nicer looking clothes to make your character look more BAMF. Looks are about as far as clothes go, though. Weapons are unique to each clan; for instance, members of The Brotherhood specialize in spears and axes while other clans specialize in swords, staffs, etc.

If you’re looking for an excellent, free, time-consuming MMORPG, look no farther than 9Dragons. This game has its flaws, but they’re minor enough to not take away from the overall experience of the game.

9Dragons Home Page
Download 9Dragons

One Comment on “9Dragons”

  1. I play too i am lvl 23 in the wu tang clan


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    Hi. I'm Dean. Welcome to Deanish. You may have seen me frequent such sites as 4cr, Dtoid, finetune, Y! Answers, and other such entities on the interwebs. Here, you can read more about me; check out my pictures; and/or browse Deanish by tags.
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