Review by NastraDark
"Slimes, Mushrooms, and Snails oh my!"
I love RPG's and I've always dreamt of playing one with other people. That being said, I've never really had the consistent income to support playing an online RPG. So I looked into the depths of the internet for a free online RPG. I found Runescape. By far Runescape was the worst game I ever played. It nearly completely soured me on online games. Still as the years passed I saw new online games came out and my urge to play came out again. I even spent money to try World of Warcraft because I heard it was good. I can now not even glance at the CD case without wanting to throw it out a window. Eventually a friend of mine reccomended Maple Story. I can honestly say this game renewed my faith in online RPG's. Maple Story is an online game owned and ran by Nexon and Wizet. After playing it for awhile I thought I'd write this review.
There really is no story to Maple Story. There are various plotlines here and there but as a whole you are just some Maple Guy or Gal running around trying to make the world a better place. Seriously if there is a plotline please tell me cause I haven't found it yet.
The graphics are excellent for a free online game. The animations are smooth and distinct. Monsters fade away when they die, the sky scrolls by, your charecters has a variety of facial expressions to make, and skill animations can be quite cool looking. The areas are all quite distinct, from urban cities with sky scrapers and cranes, to thick swamps, ancient forests, barren canyons haunted by angery spirits, to floating cities, a vegas like city of love, and even a castle made of toys, variety is everywhere. When I started playing, I had a computer that was around 7 years old and I could set it on max quality and experience little to no lag.
As I said this game is free and the company has stated it always will be free. However, there is the Cash Shop. The Cash Shop is a shop which provides cool customizations like hats, clothes, expressions, and similar things to players. These things do not provide any difference in statistics or skills. Cash Shop equipment is purely cosmetic. You don't need to but this stuff because regular equipment already looks cool. If you want it, buy it, if you don't, then don't.
The music is pretty good. There isn't anything amazing about it but it's not at all unpleasant. You get a good variety of music and it matches each area you visit. You might even bob your head every once and awhile.
Sound in the game is equally good. Monsters squeak and snarl when hit. Weapons make woosh noises when swung, and you even make noises when you jump.
Fighting in Maple Story is different from many MMO's in a couple ways. First, the map is 2-D so there are platforms to jump from. These can be used to your advantage because if you postition yourself right you can attack your enemy while remaining out of reach. However, some monsters can jump from platform to platform or have ranged attacks. This requires you to be tactical. Second your charecter does not auto attack. You have to manage your attacks because if you just hold down the button after awhile your charecter will stop swinging. Third monsters move at different speeds and you swing your weapon at different speeds. So if you have a slow weapon like a polearm and your opponent is a fast monster eventually they are going to reach you and injure you. Combine all of this with the fact that each class uses different weapons and skills that behave differently and you have a battle system that requires at least some thought.
Getting around in Maple Story is interesting in and of itself. Getting from place to place is alot like running around in the old 2-D mario or mega man games. There are platforms and monsters of varying strength running around as well as the fact that natural obsticals block your way and can even hurt you. Getting from place to place isn't too hard though. That being said if you have a few spare Mesos (in game money) you can simply take a cab. Or you can purchase scrolls which return you to town or a specific city. Traveling from one continent to the other requires traveling on an airship and on the second continent alot of travel is done by train.
This is one area where Maple Story has issues. Leveling up at lower levels is fairly easy and getting to level 10 requires only a little bit of time. Past that however leveling can be quite irritating. If you know where to train then leveling up can be easy. Alternatively you can pick fights with the tougher monsters which while dangerous does net good experience. However, that all requires a good knowledge of what creatures are where and the layout of the area, like I said earlier. Terrain can work for or against you when leveling. For standard players leveling takes time and grinding. Grinding is just a sad fact of MMO's and in the past leveling was tough in Maple Story because a monster was either easy to kill and gave low experience or hard to kill and gave good experience. This accompanied by the fact that if you died you lost a good 30% of the experience you worked for made leveling quite the trial. That being said recently Nexon and Wizet have been fixing the problem by introducing areas with more middle ground monsters making training not quite so dull.
The control set up in Maple Story is good but if you don't like it the programmers included the option to change the controls.
The community on this game isn't bad but also isn't something to sing to the heavens about. While not as outwardly hostile and just plain rude as some games *cough*Runescape*cough* or utterly sex obsessed like World of Warcraft, it's a fairly high lack of friendliness that really drops the score.
Hacking is insanely common in Maple Story. Hacks which allow people to hit every monster on the screen, pull all the monsters to one spot, or just make you invulnerable are common. Item copying and meso copying are also common. This in turn has made any item even remotely desirable cost insane amounts of money when purchasing from another player. Nexon and Wizet have claimed to be working on it but it's still really annoying.
Despite the fact that they suck at managing Hackers, Nexon/Wizet do an amazing job of creating cool events. There are always awesome events like Bera,Broa,Ipod which caused monsters on the Bera and Broa servers to drop Ipods which you could redeem for a real one. There are holiday based areas and events. Holiday weapons and equipment and even holiday monsters like Turkeys. There is always something cool going on.
Quests in Maple Story are actually varied and fun. There are your run of the mill kill X creatures or bring item X to person Y. There are also platforming quests where you have to jump from place to place and exercise your hand eye coordination and reflexes. There are also puzzles and memory quests.
There are currently two minigames availible in Maple Story. Match Cards and Omok. Match cards is a game you can play which requires a match set. A match set requires you to acquire 100 monster cards to make it. This is fairly simple as every monster in the game drops monster cards. Often. The game itself is a simple memory game but is pretty fun and is played by two or more people. Omok is very difficult to collect. It requires you to have several of two different kinds of Omok pieces and an Omok board to make. Those are not so easy to collect. Omok itself is a simple board game in the same vein as chess or checkers.
In spite of the tough level ups and irritating hackers Maple Story is a fun game. Don't expect to level up in an hour. Give it time and don't sit around and do nothing but grinding or else of course the game won't be fun. Participate in events, play the mini-games, do quests, and explore. So get out there and start Mapling.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/14/07
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