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Free Game Download : Bounty Bay Online


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The MMO market, whilst being one of the most lucrative segments of the PC-gaming industry right now, is also probably the most difficult to survive in. Countless minor releases are crushed by extremely high budget colossi such as World of Warcraft, or ultimate niche games such as EVE online. The only way to survive in this cut-throat arena is by either offering more than the competition or by being as different as possible. Yusho's / Frogster Interactive's Bounty Bay Online tries the latter of the two possibilities, but whether it truly is different compared to Everquest 2 or World of Warcraft beyond the opponents screaming "Yarrr!" isn't an easy question to answer.

Bounty Bay Online Trailer

Bounty Bay Online is basically a European re-release of the Far-Eastern (and later, US-based) MMO Voyage Century Online, with the main difference being the subscription model used in BBO as opposed to free play with purchasable items. The game is initially free, with a 10 day trial, and after that players can keep on gaming for a fee of �6.99 per month. This is unlike the US version which is free to play, at all times, but sales various items, upgrades, etc to keep the money coming in. In short the game can be described as an MMO where the player assumes the role of an aspiring captain in a time where pirates still roamed the seas. Once the player gets acquainted with the basic controls, it is possible to choose a career as a warrior, a merchant or an explorer, each offering a unique game-style, each with their respective vessels, quests and skills.

Storm Island - the first European expansion pack

This particular review roughly coincides with Frogster releasing a free expansion pack, with a pretty decent line-up of new features, such as group instances, raised maximum skill levels (120 being the new

maximum) and, of course, new areas to explore, among a pretty impressive list of new things to explore for those that have spent a lot of time with BBO. Some interface updates such as the option to craft as many items as possible make life somewhat easier.

Gaining experience and fighting

As with every MMO, BBO also heavily builds on the appeal of upgrading and tweaking the player's character through carrying out various quests, trading or by simply grinding a lot. Since the game takes place on both land and sea, this means that the player will be able to upgrade both the vessel used by rebuilding it into more powerful / larger ships, adding various extra equipment such as additional cannons, armour or figureheads, and their character by means that are usual for the genre.

However, contrary to what we are used to from other games, the player is

a jack of all trades earlier on in the game, and can learn all available skills at the same time. Instead of having a single level representing how advanced the character is (such as in World of Warcarft), only the skills themselves have their own experience bars and levels independently. After reaching level 31 in a skill, the player can choose it as one of his/her master skills - something that can be done with up to 7 skills which can be developed further up to level 100. The gain in experience for each of these comes from doing simple things associated with the skill for extended periods of time.

Western gamers, being somewhat prejudiced against eastern MMOs due to them typically ending up in awful grind-fests, won't be disappointed, since Bounty Bay Online delivers beyond everyone's expectation in that regard. Levelling your mining skill, for instance, is accomplished by letting your character club the same piece of rock for hours after hours with the occasional break when the Stamina Points (SPs) are used up, the mining equipment breaks, or the player's character can't carry any more ore. It unfortunately means that you can't leave

the game unattended for any reasonable length of time, even for these ridiculously boring tasks. The best way to punish a player after failing in a game is by creating a situation of boredom (such as having to watch your team-mates play in Counter-strike), and BBO seems to keep punishing for no apparent reason if you want to level up your skills.

Improving the land based fighting skills (such as the sword, axe, guns, etc skills) isn't a lot more fun either. Experience is gained every time the player inflicts damage, meaning that killing crabs along the beach for hours after hours is the best way for improvement. The only type of fighting that genuinely seemed to be fun were sea battles, where all kinds of special equipment/skills (such as ramming the opponent or boarding it) require different manoeuvres and tactics. Controlling the ships doesn't even try to be realistic, but it is quite a pleasant experience.

Although I am not exactly a fan of the repetitive grinding for ore, wood, and other raw materials, it was a pleasant surprise to see that one can play BBO almost completely without actually having to take part in battles, but by gathering, building and trading instead - quite a change compared to most MMOs available.

Sailing the seven seas and meeting new people

One of the few things besides the ship to ship battles that can motivate gamers to play more is the opportunity to visit and explore the 60 different historical cities. Whilst these really do not differ a lot bar the level of purchasable items, harvestable resources and the quests offered in terms of gameplay, their unique visual styles are a welcome addition for those that like to just relax and explore. Unfortunately though, the towns are a bit minimalistic to say the least, only featuring a handful of buildings and NPCs each.

Due to another feature of the game, sailing back and forth between ports can be quite lucrative, thanks to the dynamic trade system. This means that depending on what goods players buy and sell at the cities, the prices will change (in given intervals). So "supply and demand" decides the prices of the commodities, giving the player a way to truly affect the environment. Of course, trying to earn one's living through these means becomes somewhat difficult if the player decides to choose a battleship or an explorer vessel.

Whilst the experience offered by BBO mostly revolves around the player grinding on his/her own, any MMO would lose its main appeal if player interaction wasn't an integral part of the game. The servers operating at the time being are PvP enabled, meaning that hostile encounters with other players are a constant threat - or more rather, should be, were it not for the fact that BBO is far from being over-populated. This issue aside, the game does offer quite a few standard tools for this, such as the usual support for guilds and groups , or the ability for players to set up booths where they can sell whatever they don't need to other players.

One great feature for guilds is the possibility to control, defend and besiege cities, giving all kinds of bonuses to those in control and further (just as the dynamic trade system) giving players a chance to shape the world of Bounty Bay Online.

The visuals - a homeage to the late 90s?

The system requirements of Bounty Bay Online are very low by today's standard - an Intel GMA950 based laptop ran the game well enough, with all settings "on" (although with somewhat low frame rates). Any desktop PC from the last few years will be fine, so don't think of BBO as being the game to show off your brand new GPU with. The graphics, to put it bluntly, don't hold up in any way considering that BBO was released in 2007. Simplistic visuals consisting of blocky, sparse environments with low detail textures and, in some cases (such as on land fighting), abysmal animation really aren't things we like to see in a (at least for us) new game. The technological aspect aside, the game fails to deliver from an artistic point of view too - the cities all differ in visual style, but none of them really stand out, and everything just feels awfully bland. Some of the extra effects, such as the almost instant day/night cycle changes coupled with the above mentioned simplistic looks are, instead of helping the immersion, constantly reminding us that we are in a very sterile video game.

The above may put a lot of people off trying BBO, but despite it being one of the game's biggest weaknesses, the low end graphics allow basically anyone to play the game, without having to upgrade their PCs. The game is quite happy with almost anything thrown at it, and will run fine on older single core CPUs and even 256 MB of RAM, so if you are craving an MMO and use a low end or a non-gaming PC, this title may be a game to consider. Given, of course, that the endless repetitive grinding doesn't put you off...

A major annoyance with the game is that the only possible resolutions offered are 4:3, leaving widescreen users with an unmoveable windowed game (or a horribly stretched full-screen one at a lower resolution), which will most likely get its bottom somewhat chopped off, unless a much lower resolution than the screen's native is chosen. Using a 1680x1050 LCD monitor I had to play in either 1152x864 windowed or 1280x1024 full screen mode. Outdated technology aside, I haven't come across any issues in the game, so the engine may not do a lot of fancy things, but at least the game remains reliable.

Audio and the UI

In terms of the audio aspect of the game there isn't a lot to talk about bar a quite generic (although fitting) soundtrack, some subtle ambience and annoying sounds during battle. It is strange that the music is turned off by default, since ambient sounds only make the boring grinding sessions even more depressing. Although this could be simply the result of the developers expecting that gamers would simply just run the game windowed in the background, only jumping back in whenever their character needs to start cutting trees again after recovering from a previous session of lumber harvesting...

The interface, whilst far from being stunning, works quite well, and is for the most part pretty similar to other MMOs without any real surprises. Giving access to all skills early on can be overwhelming to new players with all the skill specific options, but this is only a temporary issue and it doesn't take very long until it feels familiar enough. One particular part of the UI that's worth mentioning is the full-screen map whilst on land - it is extremely clean and useful, the player's character can be moved using this view, and all NPCs are labelled.

Something that Frogster should have worked much harder on was the translation of the original texts; generally, they're sub-par at best and can really kill any immersion the game offers. This affects every piece of dialogue in the game (such as quests) and sadly the manual too, to some extent. Admittedly, Far Eastern dialects may not be the easiest to turn into English, but it's just not helping the game at all.

Download the game:

Free For All
v2.24 Part [01/08]
190 MB
v2.24 Part [02/08]
190 MB
v2.24 Part [03/08]
190 MB
v2.24 Part [04/08]
190 MB
v2.24 Part [05/08]
190 MB
v2.24 Part [06/08]
190 MB
v2.24 Part [07/08]
190 MB
v2.24 Part [08/08]
14 MB

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