Rusty Hearts First Impressions
By Michael Sagoe (Mikedot), OnRPG Journalist
Perfect World Entertainment is laying some new cards on the table with their newest title, Rusty Hearts. Developed by Windysoft and Stairway games, Rusty Hearts combines full-3D arcade beat ‘em up action, while mixing things up with a solid anime and manga art style.
As slick and sexy as this one looks, arcade action MMOs are becoming more common these days. It’s now increasingly difficult for any new ones to stand out. Rusty Hearts isn’t showing signs of being timid though and is geared up with enough reflectors and flashy effects to make it stand out from a million miles away.
It sure seems like style is the main essence of Rusty Hearts, because just from the login screen alone, I was blasted with a sense of awe and wonder. Once I selected my server and channel, the stars of the show slowly started walking past the screen.
Leading the troop of heroes was Frantz Kruger, a suave swordsman who’s half human, half vampire. Following Frantz was Angela Strraugend, a peppy witch that uses possessed great swords and scythes. Last one behind the group was Tude MacCloud. Sounds like your typical everyman, but Tude uses gauntlets and claws to tear his enemies a new one.
And from the group of heroes, you could see the misty shadow of another, currently unplayable female character. She already has her name up and such, so I assume she will join these heroes soon enough.
Though I was leaning towards Angela, I decided to give Frantz a go for my first couple of runs. Right from the get-go, the game attempts to immerse me into the world with a story cutscene showcasing Frantz and the gang fleeing from a huge monster. After that, it was mandatory tutorial time!
Getting a grip on the game’s controls was no biggie, as the control scheme felt and played similar to another popular action MMO. Midway during the tutorial, I decided to whip out my PS2 controller and USB converter to give the gamepad functions a try. Surprisingly, the gamepad function worked out great (for the most part) with the only issue being the dodge stick wasn’t mapped properly (pressing down on the stick made my character dodge left, pressing up made me dodge left, etc.) It seems to me that gamepad support was made with Xbox 360 controllers in mind first. Regardless, this little error can easily be fixed if they would give us the option to re-map control functions manually.
There seems to be a huge focus on story telling here, which I can’t really say I’m fond of since there seems to be no voice acting during cutscenes, making things a bit difficult to keep up with. Just a little bit of voice acting during the major cut-scenes would be nice and would help out with the story telling, since I won’t have to squint my eyes towards the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
But enough about storytelling, let’s focus on what matters: The gameplay. While the game has a pretty unique flair, it was really hard for me to play through this one without having that other popular arcade action MMO pop into mind: Tapping the basic attack button performs a short and easy combo. While using the skills assigned from A-through-H at the right time, I was able unleash longer combo strings and juggles with ease. You can jump and perform attacks in mid-air, but they’re kind of ineffective, so I didn’t really use them as much. I am fond of the subtle defensive option of being able to block attacks and counter attack when guarding at the right moment.
Unlike some action MMOs where you’re stuck fighting on a 2D plane, Rusty Hearts makes use of the 3D environments for some light exploration and interactivity. The dungeons I trekked through and the monsters I faced seemed pretty average at first, but I pressed onward just to check out more of what the game had to offer. This one boss battle had me fighting against a giant lobster monster that was tearing up platforms and such. The best way of taking it out was to freeze it using some kind of ice cannon, but you had to be quick about firing off the shot, otherwise you would get frozen in the process.
Needless to say, it was an intense and frustrating battle.
After several dungeon runs, things were getting a bit stale, but the experience picked up for me once I hit LV10, at which point I was already decked out with some awesome skills. I was able to switch up my character’s weapon style at LV10, trading in my light sword for a heavy but powerful axe. It was also time for me to jump into some PvP action! Rusty Hearts’ PvP features a handful of everyday gameplay modes such as Free-For-All, team deathmatch, tag team, ladder match, etc. Starting up a game is quick and easy with its own neat little interface, plus matches are hosted in your very own room.
After several matches in Free-For-All and Tag Team, I got a general feel for the character balance. Tude players can use juke movements to hone in, pressure and punish enemies. Angela players can keep enemies at bay using a bevy of magic attacks at close and mid-range, and Frantz players will go all out by juggling enemies like crazy.
Overall, I’d say Rusty Hearts is shaping up to be pretty stellar experience. If they can deliver an interesting story along with challenging gameplay, Rusty Hearts could very well be the next top contender for action MMOs, pouring with style and substance.
For more information on Rusty Hearts check out our Game Profile for some Developers Diary videos and ColbyCheeze’s impressions!