Review by KatanaBuster

"Maple Story is a well-rounded game that appeals to the low-budget online gamer."

The Free Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) genre has seen recent success, judging by the number of Asian, but mainly Korean, MMOGs that are exploding onto the online gaming scene like fireworks - fast and numerous. Maple Story's 2005 official US release is promising to the genre along with other recently released games, such as GunZ, which is in its open beta stage as of this writing. Maple Story, like Gunbound, is 90% free, the other 10% being items in a currently unreleased Cash Shop where players can donate to Maple Story producer Wizet and receive some pretty cool items in return.

What separates Maple Story from the recent barrage of MMORPGs like R.O.S.E. and Flyff is that this game is a 2-D Platformer. In this complex 2-D World, the players move around by jumping from platform to platform, dodging or destroying the enemies as they pass along. This makes the game simple enough in terms of transportation to eliminate the need to plan out your route on a map, as towns are usually only 7-8 screens apart, one screen being traversable in an average of about 30 seconds. This innovative approach is really the games only gimmick- the rest completely resembles a real time action MMORPG, including classes, equipment, levelling, grinding and dealing with noobs and idiots.

Combat in this game consists of a regular physical attack or a set of skills which are obtained at each job advancement. Skills and attributes can be increased and like any typical MMORPG, and equipment and weapons can be upgraded and often become obsolete within a few levels. Don't be shocked though, because gaining a level after level 15 or so becomes something that requires real determination. The enemies are FAR from difficult, but the players must kill literally thousands of them at a relatively early point in the game to gain one level. An easy formula to describe the game is 9 parts grinding, 1 part selling/trading/buying/transportation/everything else.
All of the quests consist of collecting 50-100 of a few enemy-specific items, which requires grinding. Grinding, grinding, grinding grinding, grinding grinding grinding grinding, grinding grinding. Grinding grinding grinding, grinding grinding grinding.

This game has a fairly decent core community. This game, while an MMORPG, does not require partying. While partying can be efficient, most members of a party (especially at an early level) will leech off of the one or two committed party members who sadly give up a fraction of their EXP so others can go AFK. One of the major flaws with this game is the constant kill-stealing.(KSing) I can guarantee you that you will KS people, and they will KS you. Without a system to claim monsters, it is impossible to control KSing. The scary part is that players who are anal about being KSed will abuse the game's Fame system, a system that allows players to raise or lower another player's Fame count once per day, and then “defame” a player. This is usually followed by switching characters and defaming some more, and more. The GameFAQs message board for Maple Story almost always has a few mass-defame requests on the front page. To avoid KSing, your best bet is to switch to a deserted channel on your server and find a decent spot that has a low crowd, so you can have a platform or two to yourself. Otherwise, you'll have to accept that fact that people will KS you. There is nothing you can do about it except yell at players and defame them, and counter-KS.

The graphics in this game are obviously not spectacular, as it happens to be 2-D. However, the graphics are much better than most other 2-D games, although the cutesy Super-Deformed Anime look that plagues most players and enemies alike can get annoying after a long session of grinding. The animations are smooth on the average computer, but with a lower-end computer or dial-up, there will constantly be slowdowns and delays. The music in this game, however, is disgusting. While okay for the first few hours or days of playing, this games music will quickly get annoying as it repeats in an infinite loop, making grinding while listening a painful experience for the ears. The sound effects are okay, although some are a little bit exaggerated.
To sum up the A/V experience - Lots of colors combined with repetitive and annoying music.

This game still has not been “fully” released, as the Cash Shop and islands such as Jipang are still missing. However, for a free game, this definitely exceeds the average.

Major Pros:

+ 2-D Platformer style is simple and efficient
+ Always free, will never be pay-to-play, with an optional Cash Shop that has some useful items
+ This game can run on almost any computer, although dial-up is a little laggy

Major Cons:

- Popular and crowded levelling areas cause mass KSing
- The vibrant colors and music are nice at first, but can cause headaches
- Grinding grinding grinding grinding grinding

Overall, I rate this game a 8/10. For the free MMO genre, this game is exceptional, although flaws in the game style cause some problems.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/01/05


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