Review by starfirecold32

"Fun at the beginning, disappointment at the end"

Rappelz is a free to play MMORPG developed by the Korean company, nFlavor, and published by Gala-Net Inc. In case you're wondering what the name means, it comes from the French word "rappeler," meaning "to summon." This word suitably fits the central theme of the game - you tame and summon pets to help you in combat. There are currently three races: the Deva, a race representing light and specializing in defensive and healing abilities, the Asura, an offensive race representing darkness and destruction, and the Gaia, an earthly race somewhere in between. This review will be based on Epic 4 and the current status of the game.

Gameplay: 5.5/10
Much like many other MMORPGs, a first timer player may find the game incredibly complex.

Leveling Up & Skills:
You gain experience by killing field and dungeon mobs, or by completing quests available from the NPCs. With each kill or quest completed, you also gain some JP (Job Points) that you can spend on your class's skills. Skills can be improved by leveling them up or by equipping skill cards. However, the chances of skill cards breaking and you losing everything are extremely high. This has been a huge turn off for many people. The end result you get for combining cards sometimes doesn't justify the risk factor in making them.

At first, it's extremely easy to level up and quests are abundant. The quests, however, are all the same, falling into one of three categories: kill X amount of a certain creature, collect X amount of a certain item, or deliver this item to a certain person. There's hardly any variation or originality, and you may find yourself waiting in frustration for a certain monster to spawn to complete your quest. Once you've reached higher levels (r3), quests become sparse and you may find yourself killing hundreds of mobs just to go up one level. At really high levels (r4 and r5), you may find yourself ready to quit to game. There's nothing to do at high levels but the endless grind. It takes forever to level up and hundreds of thousands of JP just to level up a skill.

Pet System:
The unique thing about Rappelz is its pet system. There are three basic pets sold at the NPC shops that can be easily gotten. However, many people want better and stronger pets. The way of obtaining a desired pet often leaves many players feeling bitter and angry. To obtain a pet, you must first find an empty pet card from a random drop. This can takes minutes of farming the same mob if you're lucky, or it can take hours, days, weeks, or even months. Finding an empty pet card is, unfortunately, the easy part. You must then try to tame your pet in order to acquire a tamed pet card for summoning. The tame rates are fairly low for non-NPC pets and rare pets are almost impossible to tame. If you fail the tame, the card breaks and you end with nothing. There goes all the time you spent farming.

Starting early Epic 4, prices have been rising gradually. This can be attributed to rupee sellers flooding the economy with gold, and no proper money sinks to relieve the excess. Inflation got so bad that prices literally doubled overnight. Any new players to the game will find it impossible to buy items from player shops. The only way they can compete is if they find rare item drops to sell, or buy items from the cash shop using real money in exchange for stuff in-game.

User Base:
There are nice people and there are jerks. Due to the inflation, people have become opportunists and some have gotten extremely greedy. When taming an empty pet card, people usually rely on the services of pet classes because they have better chances for success. One must be careful, however, as there are scammers out there who will steal your pet card. In contrast, many honest tamers are unjustly accused by bitter players of scamming. Not everyone is like this and there are some really nice folks out there. You have to be careful of the type of people you associate with.

To describe PvP in one word: imbalanced. Some classes are clearly top tier and some stand no chance. If you're a pet class, you're probably one of the strongest class in-game. Having dual summoning and pet boosts/auras mean you'll dominate the battlefield. The Dark Magician class is arguably the lowest tier. They have high magic defense, but what's the point if most of the enemies and classes in the game use physical attacks?

Guild/Dungeon Party:
If you're bored of farming, join a guild or dungeon party. There are many types of guilds available, so just ask around. Some are power guilds recruiting only high levels, and some are fun guilds that goof around. Guilds can Time Attack dungeons and every weekend, guilds can fight each other for the ownership of dungeons. Aside from that, there doesn't seem to be much else guilds actually do together, which is a real shame.

Dungeon parties are a nice break from farming field mobs. There are some good ones and some really bad ones. At low levels, there are usually plenty of parties available, but at high levels, be prepared to wait for 20+ minutes to get a full party going, if you're lucky.

Game Support & Cash Shop: 1/10
Rappelz makes its money through the cash shop. Items are constantly complained about being overpriced. Items also have a tendency to break with higher enchantment levels. In the end, the prices they're charging for the items don't justify the enchantment bonus you'll receive, or the high risk in enchanting your items.

All good MMORPGs need constant support from the developers to keep their players happy. Quite frankly, the devs of Rappelz seem to milk their players of as much money as they can through their cash shop while providing little in-game development. They also rarely listen to their players. It takes weeks for any minor changes to occur and months for any major update. Bugs and game crashes are prevalent. Some pets have no unique skills of their own but are copies of other pets. Certain classes and pets have unimplemented skills. Then there was the whole Mana Burn issue. The skill did way more damage than intended. So instead of fixing it the devs decided the disable the skill for weeks. They also made it seem like it was the player's fault by calling it an exploit when it was their fault for not testing it out. The devs finally attempted to stop the rupee sellers spamming chat by imposing a level limit. However, this was after months of players suggesting this very solution to the problem. They have events once in awhile. Some were quite good, but some were abysmal. Take the 2007 Halloween event for example. This is one of the worse events ever in any MMORPG. The enemies had ridiculously high hp, they take forever to kill, experience and JP were low, the desired items that they dropped were low, and the items that you finally get disappeared after a few weeks. What was this for? It was so they can eventually sell the items in the cash shop.

The GMs are also useless, as they are never around when you need them. The devs fixed the rupee spamming problem, but they found a way around it by spamming local chat. It takes the GMs more than half a day just to ban the spammer. Come on, are they even monitoring their own servers? They're essentially letting the rupee sellers win.

Story: 3/10
If you're planning to play this game for its lore, prepare for a big disappointment. Bits and pieces of the story can be acquired from the game's website, or by doing and completing quests. You'll probably ignore the latter for the most part anyway, since the English translation for this game is horrendous. It's a constant reminder to the players that this game was developed in Korea. Considering the awesome graphics and music put into this game, they could at least have hired a decent translator.

Graphics: 8/10
This is where the game really shines. For a free game, the graphics are beautiful. From Laksy, the floating city in the sky, to the falling pink leaves adorning Cherry Blossom Road, you have to sit back and admire the surroundings once in awhile. Just be sure you have a decent graphics card if you want to play the game on max settings.

Sound: 9/10
The music in this game is also superbly done. Visit Rondo and hear the triumphant opening fanfare; take a scroll through the Bamboo Woods and enjoy the ambient atmosphere; set up a shop in Horizon and listen to the peaceful music. The only downside is the music gets repetitive after awhile.

Final Recommendation: 5/10
Please note that the final score is not an average of all the above scores. This is from my own experience after playing the game for five months before quitting due to sheer boredom. Like I said, there's really nothing to do once you reach high levels. I waited for months hoping the game will improve and the developers would finally update regularly, but that day never came.

Epic 4 brought about many changes to the game, some good and some bad. This is a game where you can go from having it all to having nothing. The game is designed so that everything can break, forcing people to spend money on the cash shop. Skill cards break, empty pet cards break, and weapon and armor enchantments break. I managed to play the game without spending a dime. I got all the basic non-NPC pets and made all my skill cards +2, +3, and +4. You've just got to have patience. Spend your money on the cash shop if you want. Just don't regret that decision if you decide to quit later on. The game is really fun at the beginning, but don't stick around hoping drastic updates will happen anytime soon. High level players leave constantly just to have new players replace them. A lot of high level players I know still play solely because they have friends there. As someone told me, at higher levels, the game becomes an elaborate chat room.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 12/18/07

Game Release: Rappelz (US, 10/02/06)

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