Review by xMynDx
"Where's the Syrup?"
Before I begin, I wanted to preface this review by saying that I am grading this game with the understanding that it IS a FREE MMORPG. This gives certain leniency, which is indicated when necessary.
Having been an avid Everquest gamer (yes one of those) who threw his addiction away for his love, oh and college, I had long been in search of something that would adequately quench my thirst to be involved in a MMORPG. That need to reach master status, that need to become the best, with the best items, the best look, etc etc., that need burned inside me.
As a student, money is not easy to come by, and I think many of us understand the financial restrictions on gaming. So, surfing the gamefaqs site one day, I came across one of the annoying flashing banners that actually caught my eye. Several 2D anime-style drawn characters flashed by, followed by the words: "Maple Story," with a little maple leaf on it.
Oh why not, I figured, lets see what it is. To my surprise, Maple Story was a free MMORPG that I could quickly download straight onto my PC. No, you
don't have to sign up for a credit card, no, you don't have to sign your life away... there is NO catch.
I'll try to build from what I view to be least important to most important in a game of this type, thus starting with Audio.
Audio : 8/10
Honestly, I can't say I'm huge into the audio department in a MMORPG. Any other RPG, sure. But we're not expecting this to be of Ocarina of Time calibur... after all, this game is free. What we get is a variety of rather plain sound effects, and a spirited musical theme for every town/zone. Are the sound effects annoying? No. In fact, there's still something entertaining about striking five slimes with lightning bolts and hearing their shrill squeal at the same time.
The music is nothing special, but as I said, it's "spirited." In other words, you're not listening to dim tones, but rather up-beat simple melodies. It's average, though it might have you doing a little head bobbing, and for this I give it an 8/10. Don't expect much, but it's enough.
Graphics : 9/10
If you ask me, the drawn characters are spectacular. You can also change their facial expressions with the F keys (F1, F2, etc). This way, sometimes it is easier to say thank-you or something of the sort without necessarily typing it out.
Obviously, the platforms are 2D, and this only allows for so much. Some may complain about a lack of variety in the zones, or rather just a "rearrangement of platforms," but Maple Story is anything but bland in terms of this. You will find variety in environment from the zones around each city, to that of the newer worlds Orbis and Ludibrium, from grassy plains, mountanous terrains, graffiti-laden cityscapes, forested lands, space/alien zones, icy walks, to being underwater! You can't get much more variety, especially not in any game that's free. Best of all, they all look terrific, and each monster is terrifically drawn (though you may find limited variation in monsters... such as replications of snails, just with green shells, blue shells, red shells, etc).
Controls : 10/10
I cannot find anything to complain about with the controls of Maple Story, as they are pretty straight forward. You will notice that you won't be using an auto attack mechanism as in many other online games, but instead will be button mashing. You yourself dedicate certain keys to certain spells/items, so this should not be an issue. Otherwise, you move with the arrows by default, and have no need for the mouse (windows can be manipulated with hotkeys). The controls are very simple, and there is thus no learning curve.
Community : 4/10
The community is probably the greatest letdown of Maple Story, and this may surprise some people. As a MMORPG, we expect friends, the usage of a buddy list, a good market system, etc etc. In turn, we receive people that play for a week or two, then switch characters, people that quit or start up repeatedly, etc. Do not expect to keep friends for very long, unless you know them on a personal level (i.e., in real life). Even then, if one of you gets bored with the game, they may not be around forever.
One thing I do compliment the community on, and the reason it did not receive a 1/10, is that the trade system is actually somewhat decent. Its market isn't as stable necessarily as certain RPG's that require money for online play, but I must congratulate it on being better than ones such as that of Diablo II. Things keep a stable value (most of the time), and you will find that making money via trade won't be painstakingly difficult.
Gameplay : 9/10
The gameplay is the best part of all, as with any MMORPG you will be hooked on leveling. I have heard various complaints about the amount of time it takes to level, though I don't believe that any of these complaints are true. I leveled from 1-36 in a relatively short time... as time moves quickly when you are simply working on one quest to the next.
Speaking of quests, there will be many that will be displayed as they become available in your quest window. This way, you won't miss one by not talking to someone. A little unrealistic? Of course, but nonetheless, it is helpful! Quests usually aren't too hard, and offer great rewards. These will often be fetching items (by killing certain mobs), though they can range to interesting platforming quests, where you must avoid obstacles as you go seemingly endless high jumping from one platform to the next.
There are only 4 classes, though there is variation in each of these classes after you reach level 30, and then again when you reach level 70. Although you may see the same types of mages or fighters or whatever it is often, they don't really get boring. You have the option to party as in other MMORPGs, though often I don't find it particularly useful (then again, I mostly play a mage).
There are plenty of options for anyone in Maple Story, and instead of reading this review, you should have already started downloading it. Oh, lag is not a problem by the way... as long as you have a decent internet connection/computer.
Items must be mentioned as well, as there are a plethora of them as you will find for all classes. Items may drop from mobs, or purchased from stores. Which reminds me, useful items (up through about lv 35) can actually be purchased from stores! That is a great change from a lot of the other games where stores are pretty much useless except to sell things like old rusty weapons that no player wants.
And don't forget, for those of you that DO have money, you can convert your REAL money into maple story money by purchasing items through the shop located in the game user interface. Things aren't very expensive, though they only last for the period of 90 days before they expire. It is important to note however that the items purchased in the game with real money are ONLY for AESTHETIC value. They do not pertain to the game in terms of improving damage, hp, stats, or anything else! This is an entirely UNNECESSARY component of the game, and only there for those that want to further their experience with Maple Story. I emphasize this because there were many people worried for a time about if they'd get to a high level and always be considered weak because they couldn't compare to people buying "better items" with real money. DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT, it's not true. Oh, and the items you typically wear (that don't cost money) don't look bad either, so it's not like you'll be coaxed into it because your character looks so awful. Just enjoy! And all I can recommend is to TRY IT!
ENJOY THE WORLD OF MAPLESTORY
It has a lot to offer to anyone : OVERALL: 9/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/04/06
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