Review by Kyranik

"Flawed, but damm if it isn't addicting."

MapleStory is a free 2d MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) made by the Korean company Wizet and published in over 7 different countries by various companies (The list currently stands at Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Tailand, South East Asia, Europe and a Global Version).

Now you must be wondering "free, what's the catch?"

I'll tell you.

All versions of Maplestory (Excluding the beta-testing European version) have a Cash Shop system, where you can use real money to purchase premium weapons and armour. However, these items do not have any beneficial stats, instead they equip over your normal equipment and keep their stats and effects, meaning that people who can't pay for premium equips need not be at a disadvantage. However, certain item can be bought to enhance your gameplay, including Stores to sell items easily, Pets that can be equipped with items that automatically loot any money or dropped items, and cards and tokens that can give you double experience or a chance to acquire rare items. You can also get more customisation in your characters basic looks, with a larger variety of hair colours, styles, eyes, and eye colours then available by default.

MapleStory features very colourful, and impressive graphics in some cases, which makes it look nicer then the boring and generic 3d models of many MMO games. The sound is also nice for a while, the sound effects are of a good quality, and the music has a relaxed, quiet feel to it, although you may get tired of it quickly. A downside to the graphics can be the low amount of regular armour and weapons you can get, every five or ten levels you can get a new piece of armour for a class in a few different colours, or a new weapon from the ten or so different types available.

The game revolves around the simple RPG concept of becoming stronger as you gain more experience from killing monsters and doing quests. However, unlike turn-based RPG games, and many "point and click" MMO games, Maplestory is completely controlled by the player in real-time. You use the arrow keys to navigate the 2D landscape, going Up, Down, Left or Right. You then use the keyboard to attack a monster, use items or activate special techniques. Monsters will be roaming around the maps, and bosses can be fought if you have the skills.

As you level up by gaining a certain amount of experience, you acquire SP and AP points to improve your character. AP, Ability Points, can be spent on improving the basic attributes of your character: HP, MP, Strength, Dexterity, Luck and Intelligence. SP, Skill Points, can be spent on unlocking and improving skills from the job class you selected.

However, several of the flaws in Maple come across when you attempt to gain said experience to level up. Combat in Maple is very repetitive, often using the same one or two attacking skills available to your class, and using potions and defensive skills when needed to help kill monsters. This problem is added to by the sheer numbers you need in order to progress throughout the game. At level 30 (Of a Max of 200, although only 3 or 4 people have reached that mark using special premium items to increase experience), I required over 80 thousand exp to advance a level. My best training spot for that level was on a monster that gives out 42 exp for every one I killed.

And when you do level up and gain those elusive SP and APs, you'll find yourself sticking to a rigorous pattern of stat and skill builds. There are 4 major classes in this game, which all branch off into several different classes at higher levels. You gain your first "Job" at level 10, choosing to be either a Warrior, Mage, Thief or Archer. Each of these jobs splits into 2 or 3 different classes at the second job advance at level 30 (Ie, Mages get a choice of using Fire and Poison magic, Ice and Lightning magic or using Healing magic), then the classes get another job advance at levels 70 and 120 (The latter not available in any version other than the Korean one as of yet) which gives the classes new skills to be used. However, each class has a pattern for AP distribution that is set in stone, and most classes have a set skill build as well. However, you may prefer this if you want a more simple approach with one most powerful character build. All the correct stat and skill builds cans be found on the message board at the top of the list. Each class has different styles and playing types then another class from the same job, going as far as to be a ranged character (Assassin, throwing stars) instead of a close-up attack (Bandit, knives)

Another problem with this game is simply the problems with the community. A lot of this game is made of up immature pre-teens that have no manners whatsoever, and persist in insulting and begging people in droves. Many people will get annoyed at the slightest thing, and childish insults are common around the game. That is if you can read what people say, however, since a lot of people in this game use a kind of grammar-killing, AOL speek tht uses a lt of shrt wrds lyk dis nd call ppl n00bz alot. Many player also will attempt to scam people out of their accounts or possessions, ranging from simple attempts (Pretending to be a GM, claiming to duplicate an item if you press a key sequence that trades an item, etc.) to more thought-out scams (One person will say he is buying an item for a much higher amount than normal, and he will have a partner or another account selling said item slightly overpriced. The person then proceeds to ignore people who try to sell him the item)

The game also has a rampant problem (Mainly in the Global version) of hacking, with training areas at peak times being shared by over 2 or 3 hackers. This is much less of a problem, however, in the SEA (South East Asian) version, which is completely in English.

However, for as many flaws as this game has, it's shining points are it's simplicity, fun (If you like this kind of game), interacting with groups of mature buddies and guildmates, and the most important point, it's incredible addictiveness. I've been an on and off player for nearly two years, and I've only ever stayed away for little more than a couple of months at a time.

Overall, while this game has flaws, if you enjoy a simplistic online game, and don't mind seeking out a good community of friends, I'd recommend this game. Just don't try playing it if you've got important work to do. :)

As for which version you can play, the main English speaking versions are the Global version, the SEA version and the European version. I would recommend the SEA version, as it has less hackers then Global, and the European version is currently in a closed beta which many less features.

You can find them all at www.maplestory.com, free of charge.

Scores:

Value for Money: 8/10 (Only a few premium items that give an advantage)
Graphics: 8/10 (Nice and smooth, colourful and varied)
Gameplay: 7/10 (Simplistic, but can be fun)
Replayability: 7/10 (Several different class types, or you can attempt a "Novelty" build)
Sound: 8/10 (Clear sound effects, relaxed Music.)
Community & Interaction (Average Person): 4/10 (Unfortunately immature and a large hacking problem)
Community & Interaction (With a group of friends in-game): 9/10 (Buddy and Guilds available for chatting, good fun to mess about)

Overall: 7/10


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


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