Friday, February 10, 2012

MapleSorry - Maplestory Review

   Maplestory is the quintessential Free-to-Play MMORPG. It is a Korean game, with its American version being hosted by Nexon. If you don't already know what Maplestory is, it's a 2D sidescrolling platformer MMORPG. The fact that it isn't 3D both increases and decreases its appeal. It sets the game apart from most of the rest, but at the same time, you can't boast about how amazing the game's graphics are. It doesn't have any, and the number of frames on any given sprite is pretty low. As for it being a sidescrolling platformer, that gives the game a bit of oldschool charm, and takes out one of the thing I hate most about MMORPGs: Clicking on a monster and having my character do all the work for me. In Maplestory, you manually walk, jump, fly, etc. to the next monster and then beat the crap out of it en masse...

   Maplestory had received a lot of heat in the past, mostly because of it's hideous grind. Grinding, meaning killing monsters constantly and relentlessly solely for the EXP so you can level up, is not something most people want to be doing for any extended period of time. Sadly, grinding is a mainstay for MMORPGs with no exceptions. They patched the game to ease the grind awhile ago, so not many people are complaining about the grind as much as just a simple "Maplestory sucks" with no explanation.

I had fun, but I guess not everyone can ninja through monsters.

   Well, I am here to give you an explanation. I have been playing Maplestory a lot recently because of events, and I can say that... well, it could be worse? It's not a bad game, though it has it's problems. Most of which you wouldn't recognize without playing the game for at least a day. The only things off-limits to Free players is stuff in the cash shop, which you can periodically get for free if you meet certain conditions. You have access to the entire world, all the weapons, all the armor, all the skills (not sure about the Hero class skills), and all the classes. No problem there. The game also has a nice difficulty curve, with the game being very easy up until you start fighting bosses. The classes are pretty well-balanced, and the game suffers no more repetition issues than other MMORPGs. Of course, there's more to the game than this, so I will be giving real reasons that bring Maplestory down a few notches.

   First off, the hackers. Hackers are an integral part of Maplestory and you will see them in various places. Every so often, you will walk into a room, and a single hacker will be in there. Worse than it sounds, he will be killing every monster in the room, at once, and you can't stop him. You can try switching channels to avoid him, but sometimes there will be a hacker in that room in every channel, so you can't do anything except report and hope for the best. Or go somewhere else. There are also hackers in the Free Market, where players freely trade with one another. Hackers have duplicated rare items to sell them to you at unreachable-to-you prices, and sometimes even have hacked weapons on sale. Besides disrupting your grind, they are also taunting you with amazing things you can't afford and that they got for free.

   Another issue is the Cash Shop. There are a lot of things in the cash shop ranging from clothes, weapon skins, pets, and other assorted goods that cost NX, with the exchange rate being $1 = 1,000 NX. While the prices on some things make sense, others can make you cringe a bit. For some examples, adding invtentory slots. Adding 4 slots to your inventory costs 4000 NX, at a dollar per slot. And that's only for one category of your inventory. While you may or may not think prices are reasonable for temporary pets or special effects, one thing can be agreed on, and it is that the prices for AP/SP resets are insane. Unlike what you would normally think with resetting AP (which is base stats) and SP (skill points), these don't reset everything at once. They reset 1 point at a time. An AP point reset costs about $3 for a single point, while the SP point reset costs more depending on what level skill point you're trying to reset. meaning if you're higher level, it costs significantly more, starting at about $2.50 per point, and going up to $12.00 per point when you try doing it with 4th job (lvl 120) skills. Per point. To put this in perspective, you receive 3 skill points per level, and "4th job" encompasses your last 80 level ups before hitting the max level of 200. Say you maxed out the wrong skill and need to respec? Expect to be paying at least $20.

I wonder if I have enough NX for this...

   Last issue is the quests, which are the bulk of MMORPGs and, while telling you to do something you'll be doing anyway, they add a reward at the end and come with some stupid storyline to make you feel like you're doing something. You aren't. And to emphasize that, the quests in Maplestory give crap for the amount of work they tell you to do. In all likeliness, you will gain a vastly greater reward while doing the quest than you will for completing it. As a plus, you can accept (as far as I know) infinite quests so you can just accept everyone's problems and then never solve them with no harm coming to you.

   All in all, the game is fun, there's a lot to do, and a large world to explore. Events happen often and the community is nice. There isn't much you could hope to do in other games that you can't do here, with the exception of PvP and dancing. PvP is included in the game, but at the moment of writing this, it's pretty dead. And dancing, well...if you're playing an MMORPG just because you can dance, then I've wasted a lot of time writing all this.

  3.5 out of 5

   Trust me, that's a great score for an MMORPG.

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