reviews\ Dec 19, 2005 at 7:00 pm

R.O.S.E. Online - PC - Review

The name itself is a bit of a mystery, likely losing something in the translation. It supposedly stands for Rush On Seven Episodes, and what exactly that means … well, that might be something only the developers truly know.

But shorten it to ROSE (or R.O.S.E.) Online and you get an image of a fragrant flower blossoming in the landscape of MMOs (massively multiplayer online games). Now that is an image that befits this title. ROSE has been billed as a much gentler game and that is apparent from the onset. The characters have that Japanese anime feel, but are lush and colorful – just like the environments.

The game begins with picking an avatar and alignment. Then you venture off, as a Visitor, to the fairy in the newcomer area. Your first task involves learning the barter system (trading, buying and selling)  as well as the combat system. You are out there killing jelly beans and bugs that look like caterpillars (called choropies) but don’t worry, the challenge soon ramps up and you will be, before long, killing flowers, pumpkins, bees, ant-like critters and then wolves that wear chef’s hats and carry carving knives. But at the start you are sort of like an anti-candy psycho gardener – which can be a good thing, especially in the context of this game.

It does sound hokey, but it is far from it. If you insist on words to describe it, try cute, or adorable. Of course, the macho will want to call it clever.

The game even has four classes that while bearing resemblance to other games, have different names and different progressions as you skill up. There is the hawker (ranged class), the dealer (crafting class, uses a gun for combat), the muse (mage class) and the soldier (melee R us). The soldier path leads to knight and champion, while the hawker heads down the path to scout and raid. Each of the classes acquire new skills as they level up and you must do a class quest at level 10 to achieve recognition in your chosen profession.

At that time, profession-specific armament and weapons become available. But if you think that is the end-game, guess again. There is much to achieve in this title, and world to explore.  And the game does have an overall story line that propels the action away from the mere grind-to-level scenario.

Let’s face it, to some extent all MMOs are grinds. What separates the good ones from the not so good ones comes down to how the game disguised the grind. And ROSE Online does a fairly good job of that. Players can open stores to sell drops, and the coin of the realm is not that hard to come by. The interface is also reasonably intuitive though you do have to be selective how you load up your hotbars. Only one hotbar can be displayed at any one time, and loading one up with unnecessary emotes and combat actions can cause a bit of confusion, as well as be irritating.

ROSE offers a variety of quests and many are repeatable – like some delivery quests. There are three basic types of quests – the town quests that are always available, outbreak quests (random) and part-time job quests (get them only at certain times). The quests can involve killing ‘X’ amount of a certain mob – and this can be a problem. As the zones are not instanced, if a group of players inhabit a zone and are systematically clearing it, the target mobs may be wiped out well before you get your quota. And some do not respawn quickly and you are forced to wait for a good period of time for them to respawn.

There are seven planets total and as players level up, you get quests to define your “job” for the Akram Kingdom. The first defining job moment comes at level 10. There are also profession quests at level 20, 30 and 100. Ok, it is not all that hard to level. The mobs are color coded and the tougher mobs you defeat, the more experience you gain. A player can go from entering the world for the first time to level 10 in under two hours easily.

There is also transportation available, including go-karts and teleportation. The game is a nice blend of fantasy and sci-fi without either one becoming too overpowering as to cause disbelief in the other. The game also supports the clan social structure.

ROSE Online is a niche game. It is likely not going to attract the hardcore MMO player, unless he or she is looking for a break from the more ‘realistic’ MMOs. The game’s graphics are sterling and fun, from the architecture to the mob designs to the forests. Some of the sky features appear as though they are images from the Hubble Telescope of certain nebula, though the particular one that is featured the most is on the tip of the tongue, at the moment.

The world itself is not totally free-roaming – there are walls that prevent you from totally exploring each area, but most of these are hidden within impassable mountain walls. You can, however, run down embankments that you cannot walk up, or even fall into waterways. The graphics took a bit of a hit in the water department. Walking across a bay almost looked like walking on top of the water until it was realized that the water around where the avatar was walking had turned completely translucent.

As for the sound, it is ordinary, and the music can be adjusted to the off position in the options menu – recommended.

One word to describe this game would be “cute,” another would be “happy.” There is a cuteness that is pervasive in this world, and the feeling is a happy one. You can lose hours in the game, especially during the initial foray into the world.

ROSE has old-school MMO elements wrapped up in a clever and cute package, and whether you are a newcomer to the genre or a veteran player, this is a game worth a look.

Review Scoring Details for R.O.S.E. Online

Gameplay: 7.5
There are load times and while you may have a quest to kill certain mobs (elder pumpkins was the first place that this trouble occurred), the spawn time is long and if other players are hunting them, you may be spinning wheels for a while. The controls are somewhat intuitive and the game uses the point-and-click mouse controls to drive. This can be problematic when trying to target a moving mob from the third-person perspective, but only for a few moments.

Graphics: 8.7
This is a very pretty game, with lush graphical elements and all-too-cute avatars. The lands are diverse and entertaining for the eyes. The costuming is fun and even veteran MMOers may find themselves, at first, decrying the ‘lighter’ nature of the game, and then smiling at the way the characters progress and armament options.

Sound: 6.5
The music can get annoying after a bit, but the ambient sounds are decent.

Difficulty: Medium
While the gameplay itself is not all that hard, the game is a bit of a grind – albeit an entertaining one.

Concept: 8.0
Hats off to the development team for taking some old concepts and giving them an updated look and feel. Some of the ideas here are old school (like hotkeying food and drink for instant health and power regeneration during fights), but the look and mood are fresh, ‘young’ and enjoyable.

Multiplayer: 8.2
The community seems, at this point, to be willing to answer questions and help on occasion. That is always a good sign.

Overall: 8.2
While ROSE Online will have a niche community, there is no denying that this game looks very good and is an enjoyable experience. It takes a path away from the more hardcore games wherein you fight vicious-looking mobs, but retains a bit of that atmosphere in a more player-friendly setting.


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