Ragnarok Online (PC) review
"Ragnarok Online (RO) is a very, very basic MMORPG (Which is a ridiculously long acronym for the even more ridiculously long phrase Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). Really, you donít get much more simple than this. But hey, simple isnít always a bad thing. What do you do in Mario Brothers? You run and jump. "
Ragnarok Online (RO) is a very, very basic MMORPG (Which is a ridiculously long acronym for the even more ridiculously long phrase Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). Really, you donít get much more simple than this. But hey, simple isnít always a bad thing. What do you do in Mario Brothers? You run and jump.
RO has its good and bad points. However, itís hard for most people to determine which are the pros and which are the cons. Hereís the best review I can give of the game, and it isnít the easiest game to review, as itís incredibly unique; Even though itís also incredibly simple.
For one, thereís the graphics. Here, itís all up to personal preference. Itís really hard to determine wether this is a pro or a con, as itís pretty much like the old Cel-Shading argument. Ragnarok utilizes a vibrant, colorful, full three-dimensional world and compliments it nicely with two-dimensional sprites for players, NPCs and monsters. This may not appeal to all audiences, but it accomplishes exactly what the developers were looking for; A colorful world that can be happy and cute, or morbid and dark in an anime-esque atmosphere. Personally, I thoroughly enjoy Ragnarokís graphics, and Iím highly impressed with the way they chose to do it. Itís something you donít see often, and it works out quite well. My only beef is that all of the character sprites look the same for each class. Itís very difficult to spot someone you know, as the outfit you wear is determined by your class. Youíre only able to customize your look by choosing a hairstyle and color, and upper, middle and lower items to wear on your head, face and mouth.
The music is definitely a Pro, and there arenít many people out there that can stand there with a straight face and call it a con. The music is absolutely wonderful, bringing a nice air and atmosphere to all the zones you enter. If you enter an open field, youíll hear music thatís upbeat and happy, so to speak. If you enter a dark, morbid zone such as the fallen church, the dark and gloomy music sets the mood precisely how it should be. As well as having the music work well with the zones theyíre assigned to, theyíre also incredibly well done. All of the music in RO is done by Sound TeMP, and Iím highly impressed with their work.
The sound itself, however, is another matter entirely. Thereís not a large variation of sound in the game, except for a monsterís standing idle sounds or itís death sound. The impact sound of a sword sounds the same for all swords, be they gigantic claymores or tiny rapiers. The whiff of a sword swinging through the air sounds exactly the same as a wand or knife cutting through the air. A giant axe sounds the same as it hits itís target as a large mallet. There should be a much larger variation here. Hell, the sound of a magical firebolt hitting an enemy sounds pretty close to a sword hitting that same enemy. Definitely a con.
The combat system is as simple as it gets, folks. If youíre an archer or swordsman, you hold control and click an enemy, and the game does the rest of the work for you. It automatically swings until you click to move away or the monster dies. The attack animation is also exactly the same for every swing you do, unless you switch to a different weapon. Casting a spell is the result of pressing a hotkey, clicking a monster, waiting for your cast time to run down, and repeating the process. A swordsman activating a skill works the same way as a mage casting a spell. This is nothing new, and is incredibly boring. Welcome to Diablo, the next generation.
The leveling system is a joy I cannot express with meager human words. Itís also divided into multiple sections, so Iíll cover them here in different parts.
First is an actual level up. When you level, you receive a set amount of status points based on your level, that youíre able to assign to your various statistics (Such as Strength, Dexterity, Vitality and the like) to permanently raise them. This makes it very easy to customize the character you like to your play style, and while most people follow a set build for their character, you can stray and make a very unique character based on the statistics you choose. Each and every stat point also has a very significant change on your character, and this is something that only Ragnarok seems to have achieved. Basically, in every other MMORPG Iíve ever played, it takes a raise of 10-15ÖHell, even 20 stat points to really see a difference. With Ragnarok, one single point can have a significant effect on your character, and this is something that all developers need to take note of. Every single level in Ragnarok feels important, and itís far different than other games such as EverQuest where it only feels like every 10 or more levels is the only time you feel a significant change.
Aside from normal level ups (which give the aforementioned Status points), you also receive Job level ups, which I will touch on after this. When you achieve a job level up, youíre given a skill point to assign to a skill or spell. This adds a further ability to customize your character to your own liking, as well as letting you choose where you want to hunt. If you pick a mage for example and you like desert-like environments, you can choose Ice spells that affect the fire-element monsters that dwell in the heat of the desert. If you like grassy, open plains, you can choose fire skills to burn the earth-element monsters that dwell in these areas. One of the greatest things, however, is that absolutely no skill ever becomes obsolete. That fire bolt skill you got and raised in ranks at level 10 is still very, very useful at level 80. They accomplish this by giving all skills very defining strengths and weaknesses, and allowing spells to get stronger as you get stronger or assign more skill points to a skill.
The Class system in Ragnarok is also very unique at the time it was created, but is starting to become a bit more popular in recent releases and upcoming MMORPGs. You start off as a Novice, a beginner character, and raise Job levels. Once your job level reaches a certain amount, ten out of ten for a Novice, you can change to a second class, including but not limited to Swordsman, Acolyte or Thief. Your job level reverts back to Zero, and you start leveling again. Once you reach the level youíd like (40 is the minimal, but youíre allowed to go to a max of 50 to get 10 extra skill points.), youíre able to change to one of two different classes depending on your first choice. For a Swordsman, youíre able to change to a Knight or a Crusader, two classes which are similar to a swordsman, but differ GREATLY from one another, or an Acolyte to a Priest or a Monk. Priests are support based, Monks are Offensive based characters. As you can tell, the unique customization of characters plays a very vital role here, as youíre now able to define your class even more to your liking. The skills you earned as your first class, the acolyte, swordsman or whatever, also carry over to your second class, allowing you a very large choice of skills.
Phew, that was long. Moving on.
The quest system in Ragnarok is, if youíll pardon my language, absolute horse shit. Basically, you walk up to an NPC, click on them, click pre-set choices, and they give you absolutely ridiculous requests to get the item you want. For example, to get a Heart Hairpin, you have to find ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED pieces of Coral. Yes, you read correctly, 1200 pieces of coral for a hairpin. The quests are absolutely ridiculous, and desperately need to be thought out better.
The Crafting system is also, pardoning my language, absolute horse shit. Only the Blacksmith class (One of the second job classes for Merchants) can craft items, and the crafting recipes are utterly ridiculous. You need SIXTY large plates of steel to craft a TINY FRIGGINí KNIFE. And ONE piece of steel with 8 pieces of an ore to craft a giant two handed sword. What were the developers smoking when they thought these recipes up?!
Even with itís great character customization and wonderful leveling system, Ragnarok falls short of almost all other MMORPGs because of the lack of things to do, and itís very uninvolved battle system. How unfortunate it is that those two great things are wasted on a game where your main goal is going to be getting hats. No, Iím not making that up, youíll really end up spending all your time looking for hats.
If you donít have friends to play Ragnarok with you, prepare to be bored out of your skull.
Community review by vincent_valentine (March 20, 2004)
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