Review by x1372

Reviewed: 12/07/04

Free, Two-Dimensional, Fun, and MMO. An interesting, innovative combination that works.

Maple Story is a relatively simple game at heart. You download the client, make your character, and run around attacking cute and innocent looking creatures until you're stronger. You then attack slightly dangerous looking enemies, and so on until you're toe to toe with gigantic enemies who can mop the floor with your character if given a second's opportunity.

The story for this game is rather nonexistant. Aside from a few quests, players are basically left to themselves to go out and get stronger. There are 4 class choices, and at level 10 (8 for mages) one can change classes into a warrior, magician, archer, or rouge. Each has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages, in addition to different skills that can be learned. At level 30, one can class change again into an even stronger and more specialized fighter.

Controls: 9/10
The controls for this game are excellent. You can do anything with the push of a button, and can easily change the control configuration to suit your preferences. However, there are some issues. For one, you cannot change the controls from using the arrow keys for movement. For many who are used to the wasd control scheme, this can be an annoyance. Additionally, the emoticon and screenshot buttons are unchangeable as well. However, the ability to change everything else, and set items or spells to the push of any button make this control scheme work well.

Graphics: 10/10
The game has a good aesthetic appeal, with stylized characters and enemies and backgrounds that do look nice. For those with slower computers, one can turn the graphics quality down, which is a plus. For the environment that the game is trying to make the graphics work very well.

Sound: 8/10
The sound for this game is good, with background music that fits each section and sound effects that fit their situation. However, there's nothing particularly special about the music, and after listening to the same repeated section over and over you might prefer to turn the music off and run your own in the background behind the program.

Gameplay: 10/10
The jumping system may take a little getting used to (in theory you can avoid most enemies by jumping over them, but in practice, well, that's questionable) but the fighting is clearly there. The timing and aiming of everything is done very well. One quibble with the system is that attacks and targets are determine from the moment the attack button is hit, rather than where the weapon goes - if you fire an arrow at a target that is currently out of range and expect it to move into the arrow, you will watch the arrow fly through your prey. This can be especially frustrating for dagger users against smaller and quicker enemies because even if you hit your target, by the time the attacking animation is done you are likely to have taken a hit yourself. Several quests also help teach you jumping and timing skills, so it's in your best interest to master the controls.

Extras: 9/10
There's plenty of extra good stuff added into this game. You can explore and search for hidden areas, which are abundant. However, hidden areas usually lead to stronger monsters, so low-level exploration comes with the knowledge that you are risking death (and thus a small exp% drop) by searching. Additionally, the "Party Quest" was a particularly good idea, but it could have been implemented better (without the pass trading glitch, the problem with monsters not spawning, and the wait and clicking flurry that follows since only one group at a time can get in on each channel). Additionally, group quests similar to the party quest should be available for those at higher levels, because they tend to be the most sociable and enjoyable sections.

Customization: 7/10
Yes, there are several options on what you can do with your stats, skills, and equipment. However, the fact is that it is already quite clear what the "perfect" stats and skills are for each class. While the stat reroll option when creating a character is nice, all it does is make you keep clicking until you get the starting stats you want. Additionally, while skill trees are flexible, again most players will stick with the "perfect" guides and have essentially the same character skills and stats. Additionally, most players stick with the same equipment (down to the color) because of the difference in which stats are boosted by the different colored items. Unless you want to be several "levels" behind the "perfect" preparations, you really must determine what your first (and in some cases second) class will be before character creation, and in many cases you must determine your second class early in the first to avoid "wasting" skill points.

Longevity: 7/10
Let's face it - the game starts into a level grind once you hit around level 30. For many players, that is no longer fun and they will not want to continue. However, there are always new items to get and friends to meet. Additionally there is plenty of exploration to do and quests to complete. However, even for those who tire of the constant levelling, there is still plenty to do. Maple Story is free to play, so there is no "obligation" to keep going because you've paid for it.

Balance: 5/10
This is probably the biggest issue with the game. Some classes are far stronger, at least early on, than others. From levels 15 to 50, mage characters tend to be far stronger than any other class type. Given that most players will not reach level 40, this is a serious issue. It is too early to determine if this imbalance continues at higher levels, especially with yet another job upgrade at levels 70 and 120 to be implemented in the future.

Support: 5/10
Wizet has come out with several patches to the game, but so far few new significant changes. The Japanese and Korean versions have many more items and areas included than does the current Global version. Additionally, several users were upset by the split between east and west servers and subsequent holiday weekend where many players could not access their accounts due to a glitch with registration. Things can improve, however, especially since the game is still in its beta phases.

Overall: 8/10
This is a very fun game, and it costs nothing to play. It will entertain you for weeks at least, and those that take the time will find their characters significantly stronger and able to equip that new weapon and armor that they wanted. There are still some issues, but most of these can easily be addressed in fixes by the time the game reaches its official global release. This game is definitely worth trying out.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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