Review by Kletian

"A review for newcomers to the genre"

I must admit, I’m new to the MMORPG genre, and Ragnarok Online is the first game I played that falls in this genre (mainly because it was free in its beta testing). However, my lack of experience with this genre will allow me to give a fair review for others also new to this style of gameplay. Now enough with the rambling; let me get on to the review.
When I first opened the game, I was impressed by the opening music. It captivated me for some strange reason and compelled me to play. Of course, I had no idea at that time what the characters were, or what they could do, since the website online had barely any real guide to the game. So, I just made a generic looking character. I was amused by the various hairstyles and colors, and everything seemed off to a good start.
Once in the game, I was bombarded with a slew of small, unappealing text, and bad grammatical errors that sometimes made the instructions indecipherable. I went through the newbie tutorial, but had no idea what was going on. There was no hint of a story, or anything relevant to the actual purpose of the game. Having played many other RPG’s before, I was somewhat accustomed to this from Diablo and the likes, but this was even worse than Diablo’s story. At least you had a point to kill monsters in Diablo. In Ragnarok, you just kill to… uhh… level up? Wow, what a good precept. It was only later that I read the story online—a total of one page of badly compiled, trite plot.
Anyway, I started off in Morroc, the thief city. I went outside, and was promptly killed by a “Drops” monster. Okay, so much for being newbie friendly. I had no idea what to do, what the stats “exactly” did (they gave a weak outline in the tutorial), and no idea how to kill these super monsters. It was only from talking to others in the city that I found that I was too weak to kill those monsters, and that I’d have to go elsewhere… since I didn’t know it was a bad place to start.
I went into the store to look for some cheap upgrades for my new character, and I found none. The cheapest item was way more expensive than my newbie could afford, and it seemed it would take forever before I could find enough money to buy even decent equipment. I guess I would be stuck using a knife and wearing thin clothes for a while.
So you get that I generally disliked this game for its lack of a guide, lack of a real tutorial, and lack of plot. However, for some strange reason, I kept coming back and playing it. Despite the lag, dull times, and glaring unbalances, I kept playing. Why?
I can’t exactly answer that myself, but I know that what caught me were the nice graphics, the cute looking sprite characters, and the promise of one day, being strong enough to slay those evil, cute looking monsters without trouble. I guess that’s what drew me into this game. It was successful in making me want to play more.
Eventually, I was able to make several successful characters (each time improving on the past), but the lack of an introduction is almost unforgivable. A newbie should not have to make multiple characters to get one that is even barely playable. Also, the grammar errors kept coming back—sometimes amusing, sometimes just play annoying. Come on, everyone knows “swordman” is not a real word—and this is one of the MAIN classes of the game. It’s “swordsman”, and you’d think that they could fix one little error like that. Also, some graphics don’t show on your character—it seems only facial equipments show up differently on different characters. Not very much in customization there—even Diablo II had more to offer than that, and it’s free (always) on the internet.
Rare items seemed very difficult to find in this game, and most of it seems to revolve around collecting enough zeny to buy items from the store—since they were so expensive and difficult to obtain.
There are also some quirks in leveling up—the experience curve is too easy at the beginning, and too steep later, and some monsters become much harder as you become only slightly stronger. However, this is not one of the major problems of the game—overall, monster kills are fair and mostly possible.
My overall conclusion is this: if you are like me, you will probably want to play this game despite its lack of substance. Despite its major problems and lack of polish, it holds a very strange appeal. If you are less patient than me, or don’t care about making a “strong” character, give it up. It’s just not worth it.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 06/07/03, Updated 06/07/03


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