Review by Lunadea
"Prepare to... kill lots of snails."
Wizet's MapleStory - not to be confused with maple syrup, the sweet stuff you put on your pancakes - is a 2D side-scrolling MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). The main idea of the story is simple. Basically, you create a character who starts off as a beginner on Maple Island, where the game provides a basic tutorial for you until you make the job advancement to either a Magician, Thief, Bowman or Warrior. You do quests, talk to NPCs, kill monsters and talk with other members of the community. I recommend this game to anybody who enjoys side-scrolling games and who have a tight budget - yes, MapleStory is free to download and play.
Gameplay - (7/10)
There isn't much to do in MapleStory apart from hacking and slashing at monsters to level up. However, once you get to higher levels (i.e. past level 30), new attacks and abilities bring new joy to the game and you'll be glued to your chair again. Also, Wizet is constantly updating MapleStory with new features, quests and even worlds, so there'll always be new things to do.
The difficulty of levelling up can make this game a little tedious; once you get past the 2nd job advancement it can often take hours or even days to gain levels. However, the effort is worth it because after every level-up, there is a noticeable difference in your attack power and your stats. Monsters that used to take 4 hits to kill may only need 3 hits after you level up. Also, new clothes and accessories provide incentive for the player to reach the level when they can equip them. Training with friends can also make it easier and more fun.
There are currently 4 different worlds/main servers in MapleStory. Each of them contain identical towns and everything, and each of them provide 20 channels (servers) for players to play in. However, with the huge amount of former Beta Testers crowded in Scania, the world that was released first, it usually means that the aforementioned world is pretty much always crowded and there are lots of people killing monsters in each map. This results in players KSing (kill stealing) each other. Kill stealing is when someone hits a monster, only to have another person come and kill that monster, which means the exp is divided between the two people. This causes a lot of negative comments and defames, which is when someone lowers your 'fame' level (a virtual point that allows you certain privileges in the game).
An excellent feature of MapleStory is that the controls are completely customizable. You can put your controls on any key you like, which isn't usually the case with MMORPGs. Although this may lead to you pressing the wrong key at times, the good thing is you can simply change the controls straight away to avoid confusion in the future.
Story - (N/A)
From the title, you'd probably expect an epic, complex storyline that rivals FF7. Well, guess what? MapleStory has no recognizable storyline. There isn't a 'highest level' that you can reach, nor a 'Final Area' that you must go to in order to finish the game. You just continue killing and levelling until you get bored or you give up. There are certain quests that present small storylines, but other than that there's no plot at all for this game.
Graphics - (9/10)
The graphics for this game is excellent. The characters are cute and anime-ish, with big eyes/heads and small bodies, and there are tons of outfits that you can buy with mesos (the MapleStory currency) or with real money in the Cash Shop. The basic hairstyles and faces are limited, but if you have the money you can purchase very nice-looking hairstyles/colors and different eyes/skin colors. For the people who don't want to spend money on the game, the default appearances for your character is pretty good too.
When characters talk publicly, a white speech bubble appears above them. You can get that customized in the Cash Shop; i.e. you could make the bubble black with white text as opposed to the black words on white that is the default, or maybe even pink or sparkly. It's completely up to you, however changing the speech bubble does require money so it might be better just to keep the normal one. When characters die, the speech bubble turns into a thought bubble.
The background is very smooth and follows your movement, but if you have a slow internet you can lower the quality of the background so that you don't lag as much. The background is different for every area, though it isn't as sharp or brightly colored as the foreground so it doesn't distract you. Monsters vary in size and shape, and they all fit in with their areas, i.e. snails in grassy places, monkeys in tree dungeons, etc.
Sound - (5/10)
The music is likable for all of about an hour, and then you either get sick of it or you learn to tolerate it. It varies in different maps or towns and they fit well with their areas, i.e. Ellinia, which is a forest town, has light, fairy-like music to fit the theme. Dungeons have creepy music, towns have happy-ish music and so on. However, in the more monster-filled places the background music is often drowned out by the sound of people hitting monsters and the dying noise of the monster.
The noises that monsters make in their dying throes are amusing at first, but soon get annoying. Thankfully there are options to turn the background music/noises off, so at least you don't have to go crazy listening to the same music for hours and hours on end.
Community - (8/10)
Most of the people on MapleStory are nice enough, but as in every online game there are a few bad eggs. Before Wizet introduced GameGuard, there used to be a lot of hacking and scamming going on. Now it's better, but there are still some hackers and scammers out there. Not only that, there are also selfish people who think they own the map they are training in and when anybody walks through, be it beginner or pro, they say 'cc plz!' (meaning 'change channel please') or 'don't ks!'. They might even randomly defame you.
Aside from that small portion of players, the people you meet in MapleStory are usually all nice to you and you'll make friends easily. Only a small amount of people on your buddy list will stay there for the whole time you play, but those will turn out to be valuable allies and good friends.
Replay Value - (8/10)
Because you do the same things whenever you make a new character, it's not hard to get back into the flow of things. Also, the availability of lots of jobs and skills will make replaying as a new character nearly as fun as the first time. Friends, of course, make replay fun as well. However, if you used to have a really strong character and then started a new one, it might be very boring for you to go back to hitting snails and mushrooms.
Final Score - (7/10)
MapleStory is either terribly addictive or completely boring. It's one of those games that you'll probably get hooked on in the beginning and then give up later - after all, levelling up isn't exactly so exciting anymore once you've done it 30+ times. But if you have the patience and want to play a game that's fun yet free, then try MapleStory. I myself have been playing for almost a year, and although I've given up for several months at times, I still find it interesting. You can download it from http://www.mapleglobal.com. Give it a try!
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/06/06, Updated 05/30/07
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