Oh the genre of Massively Multiplayer Online RPG, it’s one of the few video gaming categories that really begs the question: how does anyone make any money creating one of these games? Especially with behemoth games like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars that easily overshadow just about any other game, mmo or not. Add to that, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of free-to-play mmo’s that allow you to play without having to spend a dime on the actual game if you wanted.
So with all that competition, how can a game like Rusty Hearts make a name for itself and is it worth the time to download?
Rusty Hearts is a free-to-play action mmo that, as of writing, is only available on Steam and the Perfect World site. Developed by Stairway Games and published by Windysoft, the game sports an anime/Victorian art direction with 4 different playable characters.
Interestingly, the characters in Rusty Hearts are more than just classed combatants. Each of the four have very different reasons for being together and different fighting styles. There’s Franz, the well-rounded swordsman, Angela, the heavy warrior with a giant scythe, Tude, the super fast melee fighter, and the newest character, Natasha, the gunslinger. Just during the the tutorial alone, you get a slight glimpse to a plot as Franz briefly sees his thought to be dead wife Ameila.
As far as graphics and visuals go, Rusty Hearts is amazing, especially considering it’s a free game. All of the characters are rendered in a cell-shaded style reminiscent of the amazing Jet Set Radio Future, but less comical in their proportions. The level of detail carries over to enemies and NPC’s as well, with all of them being amazingly detailed. On a side note, it seems that every female is either about to fall out of their tops or rip through them. Just saying.
Missions are a very standard go here do this or kill this creature and bring back something. The tutorial was packing so much character interaction and had that bit of plot at the end, so you can color us disappointed when we got into town and our first mission was literally to walk three buildings down and talk to someone. Missions do get better as time goes on, but expect to be headed out on some lame ones until you get to a decent level, like 15 or better.
Thankfully, the action in Rusty Hearts is so good that grinding for levels is rather fun. When we first heard that this was going to be an action MMORPG, we thought that was just marketing hype and nothing more. Even with the videos, we weren’t convinced, but after actually playing, it’s official-the beat-em-up can make a comeback and compete with today’s games. The combos are player controlled with a simple repetative button press, like an old school arcade brawler. There is no waiting for any kind of cool down to perform regular combos. Cool down times are reserved for special skills, which can be very nicely chained into combos and have independent cool down times allowing for some seriously long combos.
Natasha is the only character that you have to watch your timing for her combo because her starting weapon is a pair of revolvers that will need to reload when they run out of ammo. The guns are packing infinite ammo thankfully, but reloading will stop her combo and leave her open for an attack.
Of the three other characters, Tude was our favorite. Franz (the sword wielder) had a decent combo speed and power and Angela brought some heavy hits, but lacked the speed and flash to keep us playing. Tude however is not only a brawler, but a boxing brawler. What really got us to stick with him was a combination of his skill called “Dempsey Roll” which is set of 3 or 4 quick consectutive hooks and that his dash is a spinning dempsey roll. It’s like playing fantasy Hajime no Ippo and if you haven’t read the manga or watched the anime, stop reading and go educate yourself with the most amazing boxing anime ever made.
Don’t worry, we’ll wait.
Glad you’re back. Now with all of this awesome going on, there is the unfortunate aspect that annoyed the hell out of us and will most likely annoy you too-the sound. In particular, it’s the voice acting and mixing that is down right atrocious. Voice levels are all over the place, with charcters talking over each other, but all of them barely being audilbe. One of the most jarring examples is in the beginning of the tutorial. Characters are talking over each other, their dialougue is completely out of sync with the text bubbles appearing on screen, and the voice acting. If only I could accurately describe how badly it jumps around. Let’s just say that even though this game was made between 2010 and 2011, the voice acting had to be recorded during the early nineties with some low-budget, obscure anime. If the the characters voice’s were lip-synced, Rusty Hearts would probably look like a saturday afternoon kung-fu flick on public television.
Music and sound effects aren’t anywhere near as bad as the voice acting, but are easily forgettable. Sound effect are re-hashed like there was only one disc of sounds alotted in the budget for the entire game. Music is mostly supposed to be gothic, at least that’s what we think, since it all sounds like instrumental epic emo music.
Rusty Hearts is a great game that’s worth the time, effort, and we would say money, but since it’s free it’s going to be hard to beat that price. The action is intense, flashy, and easy to pick up. Even with all of that, the action is satisfying, which is even more important than the other reasons we just listed.
And don’t worry if you think you’re computer can’t run Rusty Hearts because it probably can. We’ve been running it on all kinds of systems from an old Pentium D powered desktop to a new AMD E-300 powered laptop on it’s hightest settings with no problem. Just be ready to do some serious downloading because the game is about 5.5 gigabytes.
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Growing up the son of a West Coast Video Manager, Sean-Paul has literally been playing video games for as long as he can remember. Starting as a wee little boy in his room with a 7” black and white TV and his Atari 2600 with Tank Plus, not much has changed, just the room and television have gotten bigger. When not gaming, Sean-Paul is usually cooking, watching anime, or riding his bike around Singapore and dreaming up his next computer build.