F2P of the Day: Prius Online

F2P of the Day is a recurring feature in which we select and sample a game that you can play without spending a dime.

Prius Online is a free-to-play MMO first popularized in Korea, which explains why it bears the same name as a popular if dowdy variety of hybrid car. Getting started is fairly straightforward — download the 2.6 gigabyte client, create an account on gPotato, and you’ll be good to go.

There were seven classes available on the character creation screen, standing around doing idle animations in classic Diablo II style. The design aesthetic is far more anime-inspired than Blizzard’s classic, however, as befits the game’s roots in Asia — think big hair, big eyes, and small chins. The proportions of the female characters, in particular, stood out — Prius is a game that makes drooling over Night Elves seem positively prude. Giant, physics-endowed breasts, lascivious hips, and sculpted buttocks are very much the order of the day. Out of the available classes (which included Gunslinger, Berserker, Occultist, Legionnaire, Shadow Templar), I went for the most scantily-clad: The Huntress.

Prius intends to be an epic, story-driven MMO, so the game and its world are introduced with a cinematic cut-scene. I then jumped into the optional “Prologue” section, which had a similar clip, albeit nicely customized to include the flame-haired, bow-wielding stripper I had chosen as my avatar. The plot is quite incomprehensible — the localization throughout the game is pretty bad — but from what I could gather, Prius puts a big stock in “Animas,” magical, saucer-eyed waifs that each player character eventually receives as a companion upon reaching a certain level.

Gameplay, in fact, is balanced around what Prius calls a “3C” system, comprised of the main avatar, the Anima, and “Gigas,” gigantic, lumbering beasts that the Animas can call upon for aid. Most of the time, in other words, you’ll be attacking with your base character, while your Anima heals and buffs you. Occasionally, however, you get to take over as a Giga — an unstoppable, death-dealing juggernaut. You get to do this briefly in the prologue, and man, is it ever fun.

Soon after stomping one wave of enemies to death, however, your group gets overwhelmed, and you wake up in a starting area, shorn of your Anima and your memories. The gameplay that follows is pretty standard low-level MMO stuff, though it is inflected with some of Prius’ zaniness, especially when you battle evil, fireball-throwing onions (yes, onions). The design of the gameworld is colorful, inventive, and suitably large-scale, though the quality of the 3D graphics is many years out-dated, and plagued by pop-ins. The UI is easy to use, and pleasantly customizable: when I switched to a higher screen resolution, I was able to drag the various widgets and hotbars around to account for the increased visual real estate.

If you can look beyond the wonky quest dialogs and the tedious, fire-and-forget MMO combat, and focus on Prius positives (including, perhaps, your avatar’s shapely posterior), there’s enjoyment to be had here. Despite being free game, the production values remain high. The 3C combat system is a creative touch, although you’ll clearly have to invest a significant chunk of time to enjoy it in full. Maybe someone I know will take the plunge, and I can take their Giga out for a spin. Beats driving a Prius.

Check out other recent installments of the F2P of the Day column: Battlestar Galactica, Runescape, AdventureQuest Worlds.

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