Review by zetaro128

"Maplestory - good idea, bad execution"

Maplestory – Good idea, bad execution.

Alright, before I begin I'd just like to let you know that I played this game every day for about 10 months and reached level 74 with a Ranger. I aim to make my review as unbiased as possible, but considering the game is largely based around your own personal experience, that can only be exercised to a certain extent.

Graphics: 7/10 Ok, let's start this review off with the graphics. They're not too bad. The're very cartoony and stylized so they would most certainly appeal to children and teenagers. The characters' heads, I found, were excessively large and odd looking. But that's just my opinion. The backgrounds and sceneries themselves are very nicely done, and most of it was hand-drawn so it manages to give the game a nice enough “happy” effect. The skills and spells are rather bland and unattractive. Most of them are just weak effects that never really stand out much (and the fact that each class only has about 2 or 3 skills that they ever use means that you'll get to see every single skill used a million times over).

Sound: 5/10 The music is just a short 2 minute-long soundtrack played on a loop. Normally that would be alright, except we're talking here about a game where you sit at your computer mashing the same buttons over and over again on the same maps for all eternity. So the music constantly gets stuck in your head when you're walking down the street, eventually driving you to the brink of insanity. The better thing to do would be to play your own songs with itunes running in the background. But I should probably also warn that it will ruin said songs forever. The sound effects of the skills and spells being cast are pretty basic, and they get extremely repetitive after a while. Nothing really exceptional here.

Story: 1/10 Hmm, well I can't really give any marks to it here because it doesn't actually have a story (which is a bit ironic due to it's name). The “storyline” is basically just a whole bunch of quests that make very little sense, are not even remotely related, and have no greater importance, and are usually just ignored by most players. The quests in the game are, after all, just excuses to get players to grind more.

Controls: 9/10 The controls are actually quite good. All the keys are completely customizable, and the response time is next to instant. There are often some annoying parts (jumping across certain parts of a dungeon can prove difficult without spot-on timing, leaving you behind the rest of your party), and it would have been better if they'd allowed you to plug in a controller to use instead (they had it in the South East Asia version, but not the US?) but overall I think they did pretty good with the controls.

Gameplay: 1/10 Now here's where nearly every smallscale MMORPG developer screws up, and Wizet is no different. Maplestory is what's known as a grind – where you are expected to kill weak monsters repetitively in order to level up. In the early levels (10-40) it's pretty easy. Just keep killing drone-like monsters over and over again and you'll eventually level up. In the later levels (40-70) it's no different, except that it takes much longer and you get very little exp from each kill (often 00.02%). The monsters themselves just wander about aimlessly, waiting for players to kill them unless the player himself goes and touches them. However considering it's nearly impossible to not get hit by the monsters no matter what class you're playing as (they constantly spawn all around you) you must keep mashing two buttons while grinding to replenish your HP and MP by consuming potions, or pots. Pots are quite expensive, and if you aren't good at flowing with the extremely biased FreeMarket (more on that later) or haven't had the luck of finding a valuable scroll, you will struggle indefinitely to level up and keep up with all your friends in your Guild who are several levels higher than you. The game therefore primarily revolves around the idea that wasting your life by staring at a screen and mashing the same buttons over and over again for hours and hours and hours on end gains you social respect/dominance in your clique.

I can also guarantee that every player will end up in the same mindless cycle for the entire time that they play Maplestory. Stocking up on pots, grinding, telling anybody else who enters your map to piss off, and grinding some more. Yes, this will indeed become your life for the next 4-16 months. Yeah, 4-16 months, you read me. There are people who have played this for over two years. In fact the highest leveled players have been locked in this horrible unbreakable cycle (their physical appearances must be abysmal) since the game's release. It's sad, I know. But at least it shows their amazing commitment and determination.

Moving on, there are also partyquests which are essentially mad rushes to find a party who will accept you (by turning to channel 1 and spamming “PQ>lvl 41 <your class>!!!”) and then going to one of the 20 channels that belong to your server, and waiting while your party leader sits on the warp-point and autoclicks on the NPC who lets you start the PQ. The reason for this is that it apparently never occurred to Wizet to allow more than one party into the PQ on a given channel. Once you're in, it's basically another party-based grind with a few puzzles that require the intellectual capacity of a monkey. Once you reach the end, you get to fight an extremely underpowered boss who drops loot afterwards for the closest person to pickup (usually the thief or warrior class) because the only party looting system implemented in the game is free for all. Anyway, the point I'm trying to get across in this particular part of the review is that this game will almost definitely be the biggest, ugliest, most anti-social grind you'll ever experience.

The Regular Payments: Yes, it's advertised as the “Free MMORPG that anyone can play!” but in fact it's the exact opposite. The only people who get to high levels (and thus high popularity among the in-game community) are wealthy adolescents who can afford to buy temporary Exp multipliers and lottery tickets with NX Cash, which is bought using US dollars. The Exp multipliers are incredibly expensive and only last about 14 days, while only taking effect during certain hours of the day. But it's all good money for Nexon! By the way, if you reach level 70 and have not spent money on NX Cash to make your avatar look fancy for 90 days (that's indeed how long CS items last for), you will not gain any respect among your fellow friends and the common public. Which brings me to my next point...

Community: 1/10 Disgusting. Absolutely abhorrent. The MS community consists of immature prepubescent teenagers and elementary school children. There are a few gems in the pile of crap, but you'll have one hell of a time digging if you didn't get a kickstart in the game from a friend in real life. You'll often see players who will go up to you and say “mesos plz”, because they apparently lack the skills needed to type properly, and the very little intellectual capacity required to earn the Mesos themselves. I admit that Maplestory is not the only game I've seen beggars in, but you will find that they are nevertheless extremely common.

There is also a system in the game where you can choose to increase or decrease someone's level of fame once per day. Depending on how high or low your fame is will determine whether people assume you hacked your way to your level or grinded just like the rest of the masses. Often rich people will pay others to raise their fame, meaning fame levels are often more about mesos than actual reputation. You will also meet random jerks who will decrease your level of fame simply because you're higher leveled than them. So in essence, the odds of meeting someone who is kind and friendly instead of a complete jerk are strongly against you.

Don't get me wrong though, there are definitely some nice people to meet in the game (I had the luck of stumbling upon a very friendly Guild which I spent my entire time as a member of) and I'm sure if you play for as long as I did, you'll meet plenty of wonderful people. I'm just saying that the majority are immature preteens who will attempt to scam you or talk behind your back. So do be careful who you befriend, should you decide to play the game.

The Economy: 2/10 You'd expect the economy for such a popular game to be quite complicated. It isn't. To sum it up, the people who have NX Cash will always dominate the Free Market. The fact that there are a large number of items in the Cash Shop which you can sell to other players for in-game currency means that people who are wealthy in real life will always have the advantage economically. That combined with the fact that Nexon is constantly adding new items to the Cash Shop that people can sell in the FM (scrolls and such) means that the economy constantly suffers major deflations. But again, it's all good money for Nexon!

The Admins: 1/10 After playing the game for nearly a year and not seeing a GameMaster even ONCE, I am convinced that they do not exist. I see hackers in maps all the time and yet the GMs do absolutely nothing about them. The only thing they seem to do is glorify themselves by letting the public know that they'll be making an appearance in a certain map at a certain time (they certainly earn their pay) but in which case they almost never show up. And it's often impossible to even get into the map at that time without lagging out, because everybody on the goddamn server is there (the GMs are treated like gods on MS, so to the players, a GM making a public appearance is like a visit from the Pope).

Well I guess I've about come to the end of my review. If you wish to email me your complaints about my review, please do so. I would most certainly enjoy reading them (I truly would). If you're wondering why I gave the game a 2/10 even though I gave certain areas of it quite good scores, it's because I simply don't believe they're enough to compensate for it's outstandingly bad points. Thanks for reading my review, and please, for the love of god don't throw a good portion of your life away by downloading Maplestory. If you want to play a decent MMORPG, try Guild Wars or perhaps Lord of the Rings Online. They're not free but you'll probably end up paying less than you would if you got hooked on Maplestory's death cycle...

Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 07/27/09

Game Release: MapleStory (US, 11/30/05)

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