Review by GB1337
"Maple Story - More of a Nightmare than Fairy Tale"
Intro: You may have stumbled across Maple Story a few ways. Perhaps you found the website, and the cute graphics and animations captivated you into joining it. Maybe a friend of yours introduced you to it and showed you the game, explaining how awesome it was to throw ninja stars. Or, you found it in a completely different way. Either way you discovered Maple Story, it's very important that you understand that you are falling into a giant trap; more about that later.
Before we get to the nitty gritty, you first need to understand the brief history of this game. It was first released in Korea, April 29, 2003. Two years later, the game was released May 11th to North America. Maple Story was developed by Wizet, a fairly good games producer. When it came to America, however, another company, Nexon, was behind it. Since 2003, the original Maple Story has changed significantly, ranging from more areas to better items to even ride-able mounts being included. Sounds good, right? Keep reading.
Gameplay: 4/10. We'll start with the most important part of any game first, the gameplay. Maple Story is unique in the way that it is a 2D game; think Super Mario Bros. It is also an MMORPG, meaning that you gain experience, and with enough experience, your character gains another level. It includes typical RPG elements such as Potions, Equipment, Items, Bosses, and Monsters.
As far as controls go, you can almost fully customize them, except for the movement keys, which are always binded to your arrow keys. Because of this, one can very freely play this game how they want. This is one department that Maple Story excels in, because you can literally put any of your abilities on almost every button on the keyboard.
Maple Story plays like just other RPGs. You find monsters, kill them, earn experience, then pick up any loot that drops and repeat. At it's core, though, Maple Story is a giant grind. If you aren't familiar with the term, it means doing the same thing over and over again. For as long as you play Maple Story, you will find yourself killing the same monster hundreds of thousands of times, just so you can level up once. Recently this has been getting easier, due to 'Party Quests' being more frequent. However, in higher levels, your only option is to grind, grind, and grind.
Maple Story has quests, but unlike other MMOs, these barely help you. For example, one quest may reward you with 10,000 EXP. However, by the time quests give that much, you need 1,000,000 EXP to level up. Basically, quests are pointless.
If you are a fan of endlessly killing monsters, this could be the game for you.
Community: 2/10. I'm adding this section because the community plays a big part in an MMO, and in Maple Story's case, it is not a pretty sight. With every community, you get some jerks who will insult you, try to scam you, or just make your game experience bad in general. Maple Story manages to do the opposite, having a few nice people in a sea of bad players. I am being completely serious when I say this game has the worst online community I've ever seen.
A normal day in Maple Story will have you meeting scammers trying to take your money, elitists who believe they are better than you simply because they are a higher level, kill stealers who make it nearly impossible to level up, and someone who is typing so bad that you think they're speaking another language. You MIGHT find a friendly face throughout the day if you're lucky.
Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest reasons why so many people don't play, because the community drives them away. If the player base was better, the game would be far more enjoyable.
Price: I'll keep this section simple. Maple Story is free to make an account and and play. The way it makes money is through a Cash Shop, which users can use real life money to buy 'premium' items with. Some of these items give players an edge, like gaining double experience for a period of time. Most items are purely cosmetic, though, making your character stand out. Players with money have an advantage, and that's something to keep in mind before you start.
Remember that trap I mentioned earlier? This is it. After seeing other players leveling up quickly and having 'cool' outfits, you'd probably want the same. You'd then go out and get some Nexon Cash, as they call it, and buy your stuff. However, the items in this game disappear after three months, meaning you'll constantly be spending money trying to maintain your look.
Story: 0/10. Time for one of the biggest gaming ironies I've ever witnessed. Maple Story... has no story. Go figure. A few members of the community went through the game, though, and were able to piece together a very loose story based on NPC text, but besides that, there is no story to be found. Simply put, you are some adventurer mindlessly killing monsters purely for the sake of killing them. You sure look cute, but at heart you're a cold blooded killer.
Graphics: 10/10. Speaking of looks, this is where Maple Story is at it's prime. The graphics in this game are stunning, to be honest. I've never seen so much good artwork done with a 2D engine before. The backgrounds are beautiful, and they clearly stand out from the foreground, making them some nice eye candy when you're traveling around. The foreground is put together nicely as well. The game has beautiful scenery wherever you go.
The Monsters and characters are rendered wonderfully, all with a chibi anime style. It's also to note that every monster is unique in the way it's drawn, meaning that you will never confuse two monsters, because they are so varied. The armor and weapons are done the same, so you can tell when someone has good equipment.
Each of the areas in Maple Story has a different theme, and the backgrounds, foregrounds, and monsters adhere with every area. What Maple Story does what other games don't is that the artists didn't just copy textures over to make a new area. Every area is visibly different, so it's impossible to get yourself lost. Playing Maple Story is truly gorgeous, and the art may be one of the only things that tied me to this game.
Sound: 9/10. This is the other area where Maple Story shines, at least for me. The music in this game is very well done, and for a free game, it really surprised me. Like the artwork, the music fits perfectly for every area in the game. From the chilling music in deep parts of El Nath to the haunting music of the Mansion, the music really puts an impact on where you are.
The sound effects are well recorded, albeit annoying at some times. That goes with all games though. You get to a point where hearing a pig die for the thousandth time is obnoxious. However, the first time hearing it, I was pleased with what the audio team did. Overall, the sounds and music in Maple Story are fantastic.
Replayability: 5/10. Theoretically, this game has infinite playability, because you can always make a new character and level it up. However, If you were to get to the level cap (200), there's a good chance you'd never want to go through that again.
Final Recommendation: Maple Story is a pretty game that looks nice and sounds great, but it is very ugly at it's core. The community is a disgrace, leveling up is boring and general, and the only thing that would drive you to keep playing would be if your friends play. The graphics and sound simply can't be the driving thing of a game. Overall, the game had potential, but the play style only caters to the 'Hardcore' players, meaning that casual players will barely get anywhere. If you like grinding, have fun. If not, find another MMO. It's your choice.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 01/08/09
Game Release: MapleStory (US, November 2005)
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