Fun, frantic and frothing with combos, Continent of the Ninth Seal or C9 is a solid action online rpg from Webzen that can satisfy the itch of even the most ardent button-smashers. While its storytelling may be forgettable, it makes up for it with a full-on battle buffet.
As early as level 1, you are taught to jump, dash, evade, and pull off 10-hit combos with the possibility of racking up more as you accumulate more skills in the higher levels. As a PC gamer, you are rarely forced to whack your keyboards in an attempt to win a battle – more often you are asked to perform a calculated succession of clicks -- but Continent of the Ninth will have you hitting skills like a madman.
Visually, C9 forgoes subtlety and goes for the bang. It can be flashy with its combat effects, shiny with its avatar costumes, and visually arresting with its character designs. Mobs routinely surround you while bosses tower over you and emit screen-filling attacks.
Dungeons are spacious and dotted with interactive debris that you can smash for gold and other pick-ups. Cities are far smaller than your average MMO towns, which can be sprawling, but it rarely feels cramped since there are only a number of NPCs that you really need to fit in such as the few quest givers, class skill trainer and item vendors and keepers.
The more conservative gamer will gulp at some of the scandalously revealing outfits available in the game, but these are the titillating exceptions rather than the rule. For every butt-baring skirt in the game are ten sexy outfits that stay within bounds of propriety. You can easily choose to be or not to be scantily dressed, with the point being that the fan service option is there but is not at all mandatory.
Knowing this, it would be a disservice for you to dismiss Continent of the Ninth as just another one of those games catering to the sex-starved. To its credit, this action online rpg has one of the more anatomically proportioned avatars in the game – the boobs and hips are ample but not exaggerated, and the quality of rendering is smooth, resulting in a pleasantly attractive avatar, as opposed to the blocky and pixely varieties found in factory farmed titles.
The game plays a loop of lively tracks that builds up as encounters become intense. These are far from memorable enough for you to rush out and buy CDs, but they are catchy enough to help you get into a mob-clearing mood. It’s a pity that the story elements – such as quest givers, narrators and triggered NPC events – feel so tacked on.
These could have been a great vehicle to keep players pushing forward to see what happens next. Instead, Continent of the Ninth relies on combat gameplay to keep players going. Which isn’t a bad tactic actually. While more nuanced players will try this and come running back to their ambling MMOs and cerebral strategy games, it’s the hardcore hack-and-slashers that will surely get hooked to this addictively twitchy title for months on end.
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