7 Overall Score
Interesting option offering different controls, wide variety of available classes/schools
Cheesy story, lack of character customization, slightly dated graphics
With the Open Beta starting today, we bring you this review of Swordsman, which we recently got a chance to check out. This title published by Perfect World is a free to play martial arts orientated action MMORPG set in ancient China that revolves around the player being the main protagonist of an ongoing story arc campaign revolving around the slaughter of their home village.
With 10 different martial arts schools that the player can join, each providing a different class that defines their martial arts/combat style, the MMORPG is a twist of fantasy and Chinese mythology based around the Wuxia genre where martial artists are able to perform physics defying feats (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The game is currently in closed later so we got a behind-the-scenes belly access lock at what was going to be on offer.
After logging in players are instantly greeted with the character creation screen where they can choose between a male or female character and then define their appearance as well as giving them a name. There are a wide variety of different appearance options including scalable body customisation to define your lame and torso proportions and then a selection of premade haircuts, faces, detailed features and more. The character customisation fell a little short, given the genre players are only able to play as humans and so foreign MMORPG we would have expected far more options than we had to define a character and unfortunately this was not the case, more so many of the different options were so similar that you can barely tell any difference between them.
Creating a female character and naming them “Portman” after the wonderfully talented Natalie Portman, due to the cheek mole /beauty mark we were able to give our character in the creation screen, we jumped into the game. Skipping past the cut scene we started life on a beach and noticed the first thing that made us sit up and take interest: a control system. There are three different ways control your character using the mouse and key options: Swordsman Classic, Traditional 3D and Action, which gives three different ways to play the game depending on your own player preferences, which we thought was an interesting touch. Players are not bound to their choice and can change them in the settings to try out the different variations and see what suits them best.
The game go straight into the mission mode, speaking to a crying girl on the beach who says the village is being attacked by Raiders, one single straight into the beginning of our story arc as well as teaching goes the basics of the controls. The graphics hold up nicely, but are far from as detailed as they should be considering the generation of free to play online games we’re seeing these days, even more so when they look worse than Perfect Worlds’ other MMORPG Neverwinter, flat surface textures and a distance blurring that looks more like it’s being used to save on draw distance and graphic intensity than any intended interesting effect (unlike such games as Black Desert Online).
Combat was a little lacklustre, though given that we were playing early levels it’s hard to say what the upper tier PVP and PVE might be like, but for a first look it felt a little slow and clunky. Cutting our way through the various Raiders until the story Big Bad turns up, delivers some exposition in a cut scene and then we flee the village, carving up some more Raiders with a sword that we had been given by the village elder (and seemingly blocked the Big Bad is after). Just as we are about to leave were stopped by the big man himself, the end looks nigh a brave unknown hero steps into the scene fights off and rescues us.
From here we woke up in the main starting city, informed that there’s going to be a meeting and the Big Bad might be there, after this we go from NPC to NPC making pointless chitchat that really just did not have the same action feel that the opening of Neverwinter had. A cheesy confrontation with the Big Bad was once more ended by knight in shining armour showing up once more, telling us with some training we could probably stand a chance to fight the guy (to our characters amazement). Our “training” basically meant going over to the NPC’s to choose which school of martial arts we wanted to join, instantly learning three abilities and then suddenly being ready to go up against this guy. A mini-showdown in the main city square (which in all honesty felt kind of inappropriate and completely unsubtle) led to a cut scene chase across the rooftops, out into the forest and then to a new location where we had another face off against the guy who really didn’t put up much of a fight but was spared by deus ex machine with the appearance of another NPC.
Overall the story felt too cheesy (and not the good cheesy, we like cheese really!), the graphics a little dated, the combat a little basic and not particularly inspiring. As a first impression it left us wanting more, but not necessarily in the good way, we just felt that there wasn’t that much delivered. Far from being the worst MMORPG we’ve played, it either needs more work or will hopefully have a lot more to offer in the later levels.
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