Review by lopp3
"You leveled up (again), now what?"
MapleStory. You should already know what I'm talking about. That overtly chibi and disgustingly happy MMO that EVERYONE has to play at some point. It's like the client-download version of Runescape: nobody can escape the far reaching and somewhat terrifying grasp of MapleStory. MapleStory has replaced games like WarCraft and Runescape in certain categories: waster of lives is one, that which spawns idiots is another. It also has bad grammar. So why the hell to millions upon millions of people play this game?! It costs nothing. Or at least, the client costs nothing. You have no clue how much money you'll spend on MapleStory. But maybe someone out there doesn't know what MS is. Well, it's a "free" 2D sidescroller of an MMORPG. What exactly do you DO in MapleStory? I'll get into that.
MapleStory is a game dominated by obsession. You can't play MapleStory without being obsessed with it. Here's the objective: level up. So what do you do AFTER you level up? Is there some kind of reward, some new content? A new boss monster? A new area? New equips or items? You wish. You leveled up, now go do it again. Except it's harder this time. So you have to waste more of your life grinding with slavelike devotion to your precious online game. And, though boring as it sounds, MapleStory has easily the most addicting gameplay I've ever seen. Not fun necessarily, but addictive. Aside from grinding, you could do quests, which give you a "backstory" (there really is no backstory), then tell you to kill an extraneous amount of monsters for little or no reward. You'll gain maybe 7% killing all the monsters to finish the quest and receive .7% as your reward. Exciting. But how do you kill? Well, you have a job. You can choose between Warrior, Magician, Thief, or Bowman. What each one of these wields should be pretty obvious. I shouldn't need to tell you. So you grind your wimpy little first job character, then at level 30, you can get your second job (based on your first job of course). It's a truly gratifying experience, completing the reasonably easy job test. But then a nightmarish realization smacks you over the forehead like a one-ton weight: what now? You got your 2nd job, but it changes nothing. Now you simply go for your 3rd job. And after 40 immensely long levels, at level 70, it's time for your 3rd job. You complete a new, more difficult, and more interesting test. You get the 3rd job: the ultimate token of accomplishment. But that same weight comes around to hit you again: what now? You STILL can do nothing but grind. And you have no more goal to strive for. So why don't people just end it there? Obsession. The gameplay is so addicting that people actually WANT to continue. They WANT to spend 45 consecutive hours grinding to level up once. They enjoy it. They enjoy a waste of time.
MapleStory is the most subscribed MMORPG in the world. So, naturally, the community is large. You're not close-knit. There's nothing there to bind you to the other players. If you want, you can carry out an entire existence from level 1 to level 70 without ever needing to come into prolonged contact with other players. If luck provides, you can exist alone. And that leads the community at large to become suspicious of itself. Nobody trusts anybody. In many online games, it's common for people to have acquaintances of theirs grind their character if the main player will be unable to play for a while. In MapleStory, only your closest friends can touch your account. You never know what kind of theft or other acts of dishonesty anyone might perform. And this is all driven by greed. MapleStory is greedy. Simply enough, grinding and leveling is not an efficient way to make money. Grinding itself is very expensive because of potion costs. So how DO you get money? You extort other people. In MapleStory, everything has a worth. The worth of an item fluctuates very rapidly, and at least on my home server of Khaini, is controlled entirely by an elite group of extremely rich people who spend their lives extorting people to make more mesos. An example of extortion: A new player, say, level 20, finds a 60% dagger scroll. This is an item of high worth. But the new player has no clue. A higher player comes along advertising that he's buying scrolls. The new player offers to sell his scroll for 15k. The high player accepts and immediately flips the scroll for 4.5m. The experienced player could have helped the new player by warning him, but instead decided to extort him for massive amounts of money simply because he could. MapleStory is a ruthless community. If you know nothing, you exist only for two reasons. As an obstacle in other people's path, and as a potential target for extortion. Beware.
The graphics, though chibi and over-styled, are certainly well made. The sprites are smooth, or at least somewhat smooth. The level design is reasonable. I've seen both better and worse. For me, it wasn't a major play into the game. But I was pleased by the very noticeable sprite changes when you changed your equipment. When I got new equipment, I would often just...look at it for a while. It feels nice to see that change sometimes.
The sounds in this game are pathetic at best. The music consists of about 25 tracks, but they're not strategically laid out like in other games with small soundtracks, like ICO. They just throw them in there and, to top it off, all of these tracks suck. The sound effects are cheesy and sound ridiculous. Many of them seem like tracks that the developers had laying around in some mystery folder that they decided to select at random for each effect. None of them seem properly placed. The sound quality is also a bit tinny. I suggest highly that you mute the game sound and listen to some real music.
The game is actually quite well programmed. There are almost no glitches. It runs properly on Windows Vista (with user-taken provisions, of course). It may not be compatible with Macintosh, but that doesn't exactly limit their player base very much, with some 96% of the world running Windows. There are certainly no glitches that I have ever heard of. Until recently, the near useless anti-hacking software bundled with the game was a real problem, as it has been vestigial for a long time with nothing to take its place. But with new server-side anti-hack provisions, hacking has become increasingly rare, thus eliminating one of the major problems with this game that I would otherwise have griped about tremendously. Overall, the programming is quite well done. Just not the grammar.
In case you were wondering, addiction is better with a lower score. So yes, this game is addicting in a bad way. I have no clue what it is about this game that's so incredibly addicting. I don't understand how I or anyone else ever found it entertaining to grind without cease. But it is extremely addicting. And it strikes deep into your conscience. You feel rue and error when you die and lose 5 to 10 precious percent, which could be seven or eight hours if you're high level. You feel distraught when you realize you can't afford something integral to your progress. You feel that nagging sense of embarrassment when you put a wrong stat point in. MapleStory puts some kind of unknown trance upon you which cannot be broken by normal means. You can't simply wake up one day after being completely addicted and decide that you no longer want to play MapleStory. The only thing that can truly break the curse of MapleStory is the calling of life. But even life cannot fully pull you away; some people attend to their everyday lives for months on end until they're free, then return with full addiction a year later. But for many, life gradually gnaws away at the poison of their conscience. Frank Herbert once wrote that fear is the mind killer. If that is so, then MapleStory is the mind controller. If you let it, MapleStory can simply manipulate you. It can dominate life, its arch enemy. But only if you let it do so. Do something to keep yourself in check. Step away from the computer. Take a day off. Life has infinite callings stored within it. Most of them can distract you from MapleStory. I find that one of the best is better video games. Find a game you like more, play it for a while, then play MapleStory again. You'll realize that this game you once threw yourself in front of with slavish devotion actually isn't that fun. And maybe you'll leave too, like the many thousands (or more), myself included, who have already made this discovery and hung up their Tobis, Hinkel, Evil Wing, or Doombringer (those are weapon names) for good. Few would err to make this choice.
Beware the addiction. Beware the extortion. Hell, just beware of MapleStory. The obsession is deadly, and you're working for nothing. The gain is individual. This feels so strange when the game is designed to give you a sense of community, as if you know someone. But you work only for yourself. There's always benefit for you in behaving dishonestly. You'll receive so much for deceit, and you'll receive only mockery for honesty. And in a world where money can buy everything, including happiness, the benefits of deceit will always be too much for you to stray from. I advise extreme caution while playing MapleStory.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 08/15/07
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