Dust off your lute and break out the sheep shears - the %26ldquo;fantasy life%26rdquo; of Mabinogi awaits you. A free-to-play MMORPG based on Celtic mythology, Mabinogi (downloadable here) has been delighting Korean gamers with its rich fantasy setting since 2004, and now it%26rsquo;s our turn. You aren%26rsquo;t bound to classes like %26ldquo;wizard%26rdquo; in Mabinogi; any character can spend skill points (earned by completing quests or simply by aging - every week is a year in Mabinogi time) to learn any skill they choose. Instead of the usual quest-giver hunt, quests and rewards are dropped from the sky by civic-minded owls, giving you more time to admire the anime-inspired art style.
Don%26rsquo;t be fooled by its ultra-cute exterior; Mabinogi doesn%26rsquo;t pull any punches when it comes to combat. Battles are won through careful timing and countering your opponents%26rsquo; attacks. Soloing becomes a challenge, but grouping for difficult quests or to defeat dungeon bosses is easy, thanks to the game%26rsquo;s excellent party formation system. Social gatherings often spring up spontaneously around campfires, and merriment abounds as food is passed around and someone starts playing %26ldquo;Through the Fire and Flames%26rdquo; on the ukulele.
Unfortunately, frustrating point-and-click controls and unreliable pathfinding frequently get in the way of the fun, and busywork chores like shearing sheep and harvesting grain become painfully tedious. And, of course, there%26rsquo;s a catch to the free-to-play thing: the free ride ends when you want to play through the game%26rsquo;s main story line or %26ldquo;rebirth%26rdquo; your character once it stops gaining ability points for aging. (Reborn characters return to level 1, but keep their skills.) Mabinogi offers a lot of engaging play for a free game, but you%26rsquo;ll quickly wish that its %26ldquo;free%26rdquo; price tag included WASD controls.
PC Gamer scores games on a percentage scale, which is rounded to the closest whole number to determine the GamesRadar score.
PCG Final Verdict: 73% (Good)
May 30, 2008