MapleStory - PC - Review
MapleStory is Nexon’s most popular free-to-play MMO. It has a cult following, with hardcore and casual players all over the world. So what separates this MMO from the crowd, making it accessible for anyone to pick up and play? It’s all in 2D. That’s right; the entire game is played on a 2D plane.
At first, this idea almost seems ridiculous. How can a side-scrolling game be considered an MMO? Let’s go down the list: it has different classes to play as and develop, a huge world with hundreds of quests to take on, stat points to distribute and skills to learn, and it’s all set in a persistent online world with thousands of players. This game has all of the ingredients of an MMO, but the accessibility of a side-scrolling platformer.
At the start of the game, the player can pick one of three starting factions: the Cygnus Knights, the Explorers and the Aran. Each one also associates with a difficulty level. For instance, the Cygnus Knights are the easiest to level, but can only advance to level 120, while the Aran have the slowest advancement, but have more end-game potential by having a max level of 200, in turn becoming extremely powerful. What’s cool is that all three factions play out differently. The Cygnus Knights play out like traditional MMO classes. At level 10 you can choose to become one of five different classes that all have unique spells and skills. The Aran, however, focus on their Hero class, have combo-based attacks, and even attacks that require button inputs like Street Fighter.
The game thrusts the player into a tutorial that explains everything like movement, skill point allocation, and more. Usually a game with stat points to manage can be daunting at first, but MapleStory alleviates this by having a button that auto-allocates points depending on what class your character is.
MapleStory also has a family system, where experienced players can register as mentors, and take new, less experienced players under their wing and into their “family.” They can help the newer players level and earn rep, which can then be exchanged for entitlements. Entitlements can add stat buffs, double XP, and double loot drops, and even lets the player teleport to a family member of their choice.
What makes this game even more inviting is its easy control scheme. For the most part, it plays exactly like a platformer. You have a left and right directional button, a jump button, an attack button, a button to pick up items and seven macro slots. Navigating each map requires you to jump over obstacles and onto platforms, climb up ladders or ropes, and move from map to map via portals. Each map, not counting towns and cities, is inhabited by monsters that either are required to be killed for quests, or serve as an obstacle when trying to get from point A to point B.
Combat as a whole is simple and at times satisfying, but it does have its share of annoyances. It revolves mostly around constant pressing of the attack button, and the use of different skills. The first annoyance is when attacking, it seems like there is always a slight delay, and sometimes the attack doesn’t even register when pressed. Picking up items doesn’t always register as it should, and often times I found myself pressing the button continuously just so I can pick up the six items that just fell from the enemy.
The game also uses the now outdated system of being knocked back when hit by an enemy. This could be found on a lot of NES games back in the day, and made the game extremely challenging, especially when jumping from platform to platform. In MapleStory, it’s not as deadly as it once was, but it certainly is annoying. Enemies tend to bunch up by the edge of a platform, which means if you jump to it and get hit, you will get knocked back, and most of the time, fall down to the bottom of the map.
The character’s jump itself is short. What this means is that jumping from platform to platform needs to be done with precision, because an early (or late) jump could mean finding yourself on the bottom of the map. Also, something as simple as moving from map to map by running from one side to the other can be quite a chore. Enemies generally move a little faster than your character, and the only way to avoid combat is to simply jump over them, but when they are moving the same direction that you are, the jump simply isn’t high enough to make it, and 90 percent of the time, will result in your character taking damage.
The game is a joy to look at, simply due to its gorgeously designed world. Sure it’s a 2D game, but each area of the world is distinct, with different architecture and color schemes. These areas feature fantasy forests, metropolitan cityscapes, icy winter lands, and Japanese villages filled with cherry blossoms. The characters are anime inspired. Depending on the player's taste, they will either think they’re extremely cute or plain weird looking. The music is also very fitting to the game’s overall cute look, with upbeat tunes.
MapleStory is definitely not for everyone. Though it can be played casually or taken seriously as a hardcore MMO, it will hardly draw WoW players away from Azeroth. What it does offer though is a gorgeously drawn, huge world to roam around, albeit on a 2D plane, different factions to play as, hundreds of quests to partake in, and loads of players to join up wit