Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ragnarok Online: An Indepth Study

I know lots of people are eager for a WoW, but not yet, maybe tomorrow during my break from classes.

So today I'm doing Ragnarok Online(RO), one of the first MMORPG's(Ultima Online and Lineage were the first mass marketed). If you haven't heard of it, you've been living under a rock. It was, and I believe still is (don't quote me on that), the largest MMO in the WORLD. WoW holds the title for North America, but not for world. The last graph I've seen RO was 17 million subscribers. And to get back on track, the website is of course www.ragnarokonline.com And it is available in many languages/countries.

To answer a question most people have, yes there is private RO servers run off code stolen from Gravity (Company that makes RO), but they are not nearly the same in terms of size or content of the real severs. I have played both, and I highly advise everyone plays the "real" server before passing judgment on the game.

Diving headfirst into the review now:
First and foremost, RO is a game about a balance between time and skill. Lke any massive MMO, it requires time to get anywhere, but I feel this is where RO beats 99% of other MMO's. If you have the "skills" in building characters, you can shave off time required to level to almost 10% of other players. Because it is heavily status point orientated, and less so equipment orientated, your characters "build" makes a VERY large difference in all aspects of the game.

Also, by forcing characters to make their own builds, one can make many max (level 99 advanced) characters and still enjoy the game. As playing a mage with int and dex is far different from a vit/str swordman; which inturn is different from a agi/str swordman. Its the careful balance of the 6 status points (str, agi, vit, int, dex, luk) that truly define what your character is. There is "cookie cutter" builds, which are generally used, but every so often someone comes up with a build that redefines a class and because its uncommon is usually quite successful in PVP/WoE (War of Emperium, the guild wars feature). If you've played the game before, builds like agi/dex hunter(way back in beta 2), agi/str knight, natural crit sin, and so on are types of these builds.

The game also contains skill points, used to get skills, and although every class type generally uses the same skills, its those last 5-10 points and how you use them that differentiates between ordinary and extraordinary.

In terms of content, I'd rate the game 8/10, as it has a wonderful PVP/WoE, large selection of monsters and bosses, ever expanding world, and a very good storyline (for those who bother to read it). It lacks however in the new constant questing craze, which means there is quite some grind.

In the gameplay area, it easily gets a 10/10, as its implementation of the status point and skill point system is far superior to any other game. The controls are easy to use, basic strategies easy to understand, and it leaves lots of room for customization. I cant think of anyway to penalize it in this area, sheer brilliance many other MMO's should emulate.

The community aspect gets a 7/10, due mainly to the existence of various "bots" that play your character for you. It is much better today, but was extremely bad in the early days of RO, which hindered its growth significantly. The guild and party system however is easy to understand, and promotes the community aspect of the game, as you get better experience in a shared exp mode party, and you cant participate in WoE without a guild.

Graphically, I would personally give it a 8/10, although many people disagree with me. Its a 2d character in a 3d world, which some people don't appreciate. It has an anime feel to it, and the graphics are done very well, including animations, but the growing 3D only world would punish it for its 2d characters (the game is almost 6 years old, give it a break:P)

Overall Rating:
9.5/10
-with its only minus being amount of grind

Advice:
PLAY

*gone to class now, sorry if its a bit short, enjoy!*