Friday, 31 July 2009

Maple Story

So this time round I decided i'd review something a little less serious - And by that, I mean free; So, bring on the MMORPGs!
With alot of talk about Maple Story floating around, what with their new Cygnus update and events being put out left right and center, it seemed some what themed and accurate.

Maple Story is a tricky one to get your head round, to start off with, you'd expect it's main fan base to be retro loving video gamers - Or "Sad bastards" as most of the world calls them, well, you'd be wrong, once more another Korean made MMORPG that's dominated by a shitty user base determined to ruin everyone's fun by putting "PINOY" or "AZN63423411" in their name - And it doesn't matter what version you're playing, even the European version is full of "PINOYSXY111"; It really baffles me.

The actual main essence of Maple Story is a 2D side scroller beat 'em up, which personally interests me as one of those "Sad bastards" that I previously mentioned - And Maple Story stays true to it's roots, with the exception of a Trading card game thrown in that no one actually bothers playing, but Maple Story's main issue doesn't come from it's genre - It comes from it's ridiculous amount of grinding that's needed. No matter how you try and defend it (Trust me, i've tried) you cannot escape the fact that most of the game is based on "Kill 5000000 Tree stumps and receive 10 Exp" Because the grinding; whilst shitty, is not the main problem in the big Maple Story issue, it's the fact that you get fuck all in return for collecting 400 Shiney dragon wings or what ever item Nexon have you lovingly collect for several hours.
A prime example of this would be the "Kill 999 Green mushrooms" You kill that many of them - And get bugger all experience; Which you might try to defend by saying "But killing 999 Green mushrooms would get you enough experience, based on the actual killing experience" Well, once more you'd be wrong, not only are the stupidly long quests worthless, but 99% of the monsters give bugger all experience anyway; So you find yourself either grinding party quests or finding that one monster that gives half decent experience and grinding on that some more!

I guess what i'm trying to say is; Not only is Maple Story's experience scale fucked from here to high buggery, but the only fun to come from the game is grinding Party quests - In which you stand in a room for 10 minutes screaming "J > PQ" until you get a party; And then once you do, you wait til "AznMage67462198" decides that it's time to go "AFK" and you end up waiting another 10 minutes until they come back; In which 50% of the time they never do - And within those 50% - 49% of them always have an item that the party needs to move onto the next part of the level, so you always then end up doing it again - So after a three hour wait, you've just gotten 5% - AND THIS IS AT LEVEL 40 - REMEMBER, THE LEVELS GO UP TO 200! (And last I checked only a few members have ever reached that).

So from what you've read you'll be sitting there saying
"But Capn, why is the game so popular?"
And i'd have to reply with
"Fucked if I know" - And then i'd immediately go "BRB" and head onto Maple Story to grind some more, because no matter how I try to slag this game off, I keep going back, it's addictive, charming, fun and somewhat 'epic'.
It's latest update will have you transforming yourself into a Knight who has to save the Emperess from a black mage; This personally has me interested again and i've started another character as a Cygnus Knight! And I am personally excited to experience all of the "expansion pack".
One thing that you really can't slate in Maple Story is the amazing surroundings - Whilst I realise most of us have moved onto 3D nowadays, Maple Story really can pull off some beautiful surroundings; The background of Kerning City is a favourite of mine, just because it actually pulls off a industrial evening feeling to it - And the background music really does add atmosphere if you're willing to accept it. Maple Story is something you've got to wanna do, you can't just slip into it like you can with other MMOs, this requires your personal input to work.

All in all; Maple Story is fun - And there's no denying it, it's free, addictive and whilst most might complain about heavy grinding, you get used to it some what and if you play with friends then it's no problem - So just remember, don't be a loser and play alone and you'll be fine.
Unless you're made of pure endurance, then feel free to experience more grinding than any other MMORPG known to mankind.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Lord Of The Rings Conquest review - 80%

Do you lay awake at night wondering if a Balrog could kick ten shades out of Treebeard..? I know I sure as hell did - Until I went out and bought Lord Of The Rings Conquest, which not only answered that question for me, but several other Lord Of The Rings based questions; Such as "How far can I ACTUALLY toss a dwarf?" and of course "Can I pass?".

Lord of the Rings Conquest drops you into the roll of a generic soldier on the battlefield, with a choice of what kind of infantry you are, your choice consists of:
Warrior - Does what he says on the tin really; As a warrior you pretty much just run in and stab people, which to be honest gets a little boring, especially since the melee in this game is god awful. I felt it was kind of a "Whoever hits first wins" Which is kinda true, once you knock someone down as a warrior, you can just beat them again before they have a chance to stand up; Which can only be stopped by using a special move that only heroes have. What i'm trying to say is, if you play this game, avoid the warrior like the plague, unless you're taking down a big target, such as a Ent or Cave Troll.
Next you've got the Scout; Which is another melee class; So once more, really only kinda useful against taking out big targets and heroes, but only because the scout has a special move where he can one hit anyone - So as you can imagine, he's whored out when it comes to online gameplay.
Archer is up next - I found the archer to be rather enjoyable and spent most of the time playing as him.
They have an advantage on long range attacks and can also down large targets by simply spamming their main three skills from a distance, but none the less, an enjoyable class, but a pain the arse when it comes to online play.
And finally there's mage, I started off hating the mage, but grew to love it as I played through the game. To begin with, I wasn't sure how to play mage, but it's all about blocking the enemy from getting to you, using this spell that creates an area of fire that burns the enemy if they walk through - And then to spam electric attacks whilst they walk through the fire; This works on both smaller and larger targets, so mage seems the best class to play - Unless you want to do some long ranged killing.

In essence, the gameplay really isn't varied and the only variation throughout the game comes with what ever class you play, which is probably why the game was so dissapointingly short - Two campaigns that span about four hours each at best - And the sad thing is, the whole time I was playing, I wasn't feeling the LOTR influence, the generic species and hero that's from LOTR appears, but it doesn't feel like LOTR should.
There's only one real moment where you go
"Yeaaa..LORD OF THE RINGS!" And it's immense, it's when you're slaughtering some random Orcs and it goes all grim and stuff - And then suddenly, you start kicking arse and the classic LOTR tune comes in - And I personally got a shiver up my spine when that happened.

I guess what i'm trying to say is; The game doesn't deliver the epic LOTR experience like it should do, but as a standalone game, it's pretty good.
It's also a fairly good clone of the original Star Wars Battlefront games, except of course with next-gen graphics and different skins on the characters - And a lack of vehicles; Which I feel is a problem, sure, in LOTR Conquest we could ride horses, become a balrog and an Ent - But where were the giant eagles and those scary dragon monsters? I mean, they were there, but they just flew around the sky and annoyed the pants off of you.

Thankfully for us gamers that enjoy online gameplay - once the campaigns are over, you can head online - To do the exact same thing with people that actually know what they're doing (Unless you're on the baddies side). Because, it's kinda apparent that no one plays baddies in this game; So, you always just get people who don't want to be there fighting with you and generally tossing about as a cave troll.

All in all; Lord Of The Rings conquest is a good game, it just lacks the depth and variation that a game such as Star Wars Battlefront had - Add flying Dragon/Eagle battles and you'd be having alot more fun.
This game is worth buying if you were a fan of Star Wars Battlefront or a die hard Lord Of The Rings fan that can find joy in anything that contains blonde haired pretty boys and short angry men with beards.