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'Sun' Comes Late, But Is Fun to Play
[May 28, 2006]

'Sun' Comes Late, But Is Fun to Play

(Korea Times Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)By Cho Jin-seo

Last week, Webzen finally unveiled its long-awaited blockbuster title, ``Soul of the Ultimate Nation,'' or ``Sun.''

Game fans complained since the opening had been postponed, first from May 2 to May 15, and then again to May 24. But on the delayed launch date, the Webzen product showed it's a fairly entertaining online game, and that it has a chance to become the top fantasy MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) of the year.

``Sun'' has top-quality graphics and sound, but what distinguishes it most from a hundred similar MMORPGs is that it is designed to meet the taste of both Western and Asian audiences. There are tons of missions, quests and adventures for Western users who tend to play solo.

For more competitive Korean and other Asian gamers, ``Sun'' offers the so-called ``Battle Zone'' system, where players form a party and do quick hunting for big monsters in order to raise their experience points as soon as possible.


The game starts with a cinematic trailer which looks like a scene cut from ``The Lord of the Rings.'' Actually, the background music of ``Sun'' is composed by Howard Shore, the Academy Award winner for the ``Ring'' trilogy.

There are four breeds of characters available, two males and two females. Berserkers are reckless muscularly built warriors. Valkyries are a female tribe whose members carry crossbows for long-range attacks. Dragon knights are deft hunters who are good with light swords and spears. Elementalists are magicians who cast protective spells for their party members.

Users are then sent to join the rebel force of planet Blandis to stand up against evil emperor Schwarz and his formidable army of ugly monsters.

The graphics are top-notch. The game developers were also successful in making the game run smoothly on light PC systems. When played on a Pentium4 2.3 Ghz CPU and a GeForce 6200 graphic accelerator, the game characters moved around smoothly without lag or discrepancy, except when it was in town where hundreds of other gamers were bustling around.

In ``Sun,'' users are frequently asked for hundreds of quest events from NPCs (non-player characters) like shopkeepers, soldiers and town folk, adding more color to this MMORPG. On the other hand, it would be an unnecessary feature for Korean gamers who don't like to go through time-wasting game scenarios.

``Sun'' also resembles the mega-hit RPG ``Diablo'' in some aspects. Every major battle quest has a powerful boss monster in the deepest dungeon alley that gives a big reward in experience points. When the quest is repeated, the monsters drop random items from when they were killed as in ``Diablo.''

``Sun'' was born to be a blockbuster game. Webzen reportedly spent more than 10 billion won over the last two years making it and there will be more money needed before the final version comes out. Though the success in the Korean market is not guaranteed, it may be the most appealing game to Western gamers among all Korean-made MMORPGs.

However, the game came to the market too late which could be a fatal blow to the company. Since last year, ``Sun'' was dubbed one of three next-generation RPGs along with Hanbit Soft's ``Granado Espada'' and Nexon's ``Zera''. The other two made debuts earlier this year and the results were little more than disappointing. As of May 27, ``Granado Espada'' was ranked 21st in the online game ranking of Gametrics.com while ``Zera'' was nowhere within the top 50 list.

Gamers these days have overly high standards for MMORPGs. Picturesque graphics and heavy spending in marketing are not enough to win the heart of the modern-day gamer. At its starting point, ``Sun'' has a good chance to do that because it is rich in content. The game is now ranked 13th in the Gametrics ranking only three days after opening.

Before playing the game, users should install a 1-gigabyte client program which takes quite a bit of time to download, even on the fastest broadband Internet connection. There are four servers currently available. Onix, Aquamarine, and Spinnel are for those who are over 18. Evileye is for those under 18, with less blood during the monster battles. [ZZ]

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