It's the Ming Dynasty, China's era of chivalry and a time when many of the great martial arts traditions had their beginnings. Rival "White" and "Black" clans battle in an age when myth, magic, and monsters were real. Choose your clan and follow your destiny, perfecting your fighting skills to become a true martial artist. OnNet USA's 9Dragons is a free martial arts MMORPG that has all the elements: A semi-mythical backdrop of ancient Imperial China, a diverse selection of characters to choose from, and the dynamic, exaggerated fighting style of big-screen martial arts epics. Though free, 9Dragons offers a level of sophistication that even top games couldn't match not so long ago, with nicely rendered characters, good graphics, cool backgrounds and scenery, all kinds of deadly monsters and mortal threats, and (best of all) realistic martial-arts action, even when fighters execute superhuman moves.
It might take some time to download, extract, and install 9Dragons, depending on your connection: It's a hefty package. The game's setup wizard tells the backstory as it installs 9Dragons. Your character is a member of one of the opposing "White" and "Black" clans, six in all, ranging from warriors to monks to beggars, and armed with more than 200 different weapons drawn from martial arts history. You can customize your character, too. Registration is free and pretty easy, as these things go. There's a button for a Beginner's Guide on the game's console interface, but a pop-up told us it was coming soon. We pressed Game Start, but instead of 9Dragons, we got an error message related to nProtect's GameGuard. We restarted the game's console, updated the GG engine, and started 9Dragons again. This time, the game loaded normally, and we were able to sign in and start playing. While not quite up to the sophistication and visual realism of the latest premium games, the diverse characters and interesting story made 9Dragons consistently entertaining.
Free online games have come a long way in a short time. Though supported by ads, 9Dragons kicks butt as well as face, torso, and so on. We definitely recommend the journey.