With GDC 2010 in full swing, it only makes sense to sit down with Nexon's free-to-play hybrid brawler role-playing game Vindictus. The game (originally known in Asia as Mabinogi Heroes) takes its lineage from Nexon's Mabinogi, another free-to-play online RPG that has been up and running for some time. But Vindictus won't be a cutesy game where bigheaded characters beat up roly-poly critters that disappear in a puff of smoke. This will be a much more mature game with graphic violence and plenty of blood…and more than a little skin bared.
Vindictus draws loosely upon Celtic legends that suggested that a mysterious goddess would reveal paradise to those who defeated the enemies of the state. In this case, the enemies in question are the "fomors"--a blanket term for a wide variety of monsters that will include undead monstrosities, giant polar bears, and helmet-wearing demons. The goddess in this case has remained eerily silent even though the weary characters of the world have been at war with the monsters for as long as they can remember. The people are starting to doubt, as are the monsters.
In Vindictus, you'll play as a character who belongs to a specific character class, which is currently gender-limited; for instance, the heavy melee character that uses two-handed weapons is male, while one of the game's spellcasters is a sorceress that uses a giant scythe-like weapon. While this may sound limiting, the game will have an extensive character customization system that will let you create characters with varying skin tones, facial features, tattoos (facial, full-body, and otherwise), and scars, along with hundreds of different clothing, armor, and vindictus gold options. Interestingly, the game will have an ongoing armor damage system that will actually be shown on your character's model--if you've been taking a pounding from a bunch of demons or skeletons, or what have you, your chain-mail suit will start to deteriorate, revealing the clothes you're wearing underneath, and should you continue fighting, even your clothes will wear away. (Fortunately, all characters will be at least partially clothed at all times in their skivvies.) Even without apparel damage, many of Vindictus' armor choices seem revealing enough on their own--for whatever reason, Nexon feels it's important to push not only the game's heavy character customization, but also the potential sex appeal of having young muscular characters wearing tight-fitting clothes.
What's far more interesting than any shirt or clothes is the game's combat system, which seems based on the brawling mechanics from classic side-scrolling beat-'em-ups like Final Fight and Double Dragon, taken a step further. While your character can perform various combination attacks with his or her equipped weapon, as well as use any magic spells or abilities he or she has access to, you can also buy vindictus gold and manipulate your enemies and the environment. Vindictus is being built on Valve Software's Source engine--the engine that made a name for itself with Half-Life 2's then-impressive implementation of in-game physics.