Review by frother
Maple Story is a 2D side-scrolling MMORPG.
Graphics: The graphics are modern and sharp. The 2D perspective works well and doesn't add any sense at all of graphical inferiority; in fact, there are pseudo-3D parallax backgrounds and environmental foreground overlays (ie grass that you walk "through" instead of "in front of" like the rest of the background) to immerse you into the world. Also the characters are very well animated. There are 8 facial expressions you can activate during play and there are dozens of hair and skin styles - making hundreds of combinations. The equipment system, though, is where Maple Story shines. There are 4 classes in maple story. Each class has unique armor. Every 5 levels or so, your character will be able to equip the next tier of armor and weapons for your class. Each tier has anywhere from 3 to 6 completely unique outfits that you can miss-and-match from (but usually look best together), and of course you can always equip old gear. Also there are 50 or more pieces of armor/equipment Common to all 4 classes, but these typically have very low stats and level reqirements, although there are definately exceptions.
Gameplay: Maple Story takes the "game" out of "addictive game." There is little to nothing fun to do in Maple Story but it's so unbelievably addictive it just doesn't matter. By making sure there's always a "too-tough" monster around wherever you go, the game makes you feel inferior, that you've got to level up to even be competent. Another example is the tax table. Only after 500 hours or more of gameplay will you even aquire more than the amount of money listed in the first 2 rows in the table.. there are more than 5! But focusing on the game itself, it's dynamic and engrossing, which is necessary to complete the formula. The combat is fast but it's nerve-racking and gets extremely repetitive. It takes a very hardcore gamer (not to mention an extraordinarily patient person) to reach any respectable level. Levelling is exhausting and it takes a very long time. There are also some balance issues with the classes. Mages level extremely fast and do rediculous amounts of damage at low levels, and as a tradeoff they have very expensive gear (which they can easily afford) and they have very little HP (which clerics have no problem with at all). Also, assassin gear and throwing stars are so outrageously expensive it's almost impossible to be an assassin unless you have another high level character constantly giving it a ton of money, but they're probably the best class in the game. Warriors and archers take an absurd amount of time to level, and archers are awful in close quarters.
Community: When you're low-levelled - level 20 to 30 specifically - the community booms for you. Everyone is interested in making friends and the party quest is a brilliant tool for getting people together. Unfortunately as you get up around level 40, the community dissolves as people realize it's easier to level up on your own than with others. Also there are no organized activities for that level (although the Ludibrium party quest will be coming out soon for high level characters, it probably won't be enough to resurrect the dead commuity) and no incentive at all for forming parties other than while fighting bosses - which you can't do at all until you are a very high level. There is a tight-knit community at very high levels (100+) in the other versions of maple story (kMS, jMS) but it typically takes more than 3000 hours to reach that level. I should note that people in maplestory tend to be quite unusually courteous, especially from levels 40-70 when there's nothing to do at all but powerlevel by yourself. People are almost universally silent unless they're selling something, when they become aggressive and verbal. Also most people will ignore you or chat a line or two with MS's heavily-abbreviated jargon. You rarely hear profanities (which is usually frowned upon by most people) or anything at all really.. the general attitude is I don't want to talk.
Server health: Very very poor. There are 4 "worlds" in mapleglobal (dozens in the other versions) that are all identical but characters/items/money can't be transferred from world-to-world so they typically develop their own economies or even jargon. Each world has 20 channels, which are like worlds but you can easily "change channel" at a whim. Some channels are very laggy (channel 1). There is a physical server hosting every 2 channels, plus a server dedicated to just channel 1 and a login server, as well as several behind-the-scenes servers like economic analysis and autocorrection, patch hosts, and test servers. The original world, Scania, is very overpopulated. There's a user max for each world and there's no login queue so to login to a Scania character during the weekend is almost impossible. New players can just not use scania, but the economies in the other worlds are much less stable; for example common ores in Scania cost 1000 mesos but in Bera they cost 1200-1700 mesos each.
Economy/Game Growth: The economy is quite healthy. Wizet just implemented a tax system on all trades, which helped to quell a small tremor of inflation, but isn't meant to be a serious drain on circulating currency. The game lacks a lot of economical features you would think would be necessary in a large MMO, but somehow it works. Wizet is constantly working to publish features that are already implemented in the other versions; mapleglobal is a few months behind mapleSEA and many months behind kMS. Almost a quarter of the ingame world is unavailable in global but is expected to partially open soon. overall the growth is very impressive.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/13/06
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