April 11, 2011

Elsword is Not Recycled Grand Chase

When it comes to sidescrolling MMORPGs, we often think of the earliest renditions such as Maple Story. A few years ago, KOG came into the gaming scene with a different kind of sidescroller: Grand Chase. This button-mashing MMORPG gained both fans and detractors due to the nature of the game. The choice of characters were limited, the graphics didn't stand out, and gameplay was too repetitive. But it persevered and has now reached "Season Four," if I recall right. KOG musters up all their strength to follow up their sleeper hit, Grand Chase, with a new game: Elsword. And yes, the two games look pretty much similar to each other.

Let's get one thing straight: Elsword is NOT Grand Chase. Granted, KOG made it look and feel like Grand Chase, but the two games are different in terms of story and looks. The two games are connected though, since Elsword, the red-haired protagonist of the game, is related to Elesis from Grand Chase. The red outfit, red hair and huge red sword are already dead giveaways to this. Just like Grand Chase, new players are given the option of choosing 3 characters only: Elsword, Aisha and Rena. These three are also similar to the first three characters of Grand Chase: Elesis, Lire and Arme respectively. Other characters are traditionally unlockable too. The typical character selection on the fly, like in Grand Chase, isn't visible though. Would it help that most of the characters are aged 13 to 15?

Just like Grand Chase, there are quests unlocked as the character progresses in levels. However, these quests aren't handed down like a silver platter anymore. Most of the quests require talking to an NPC already, apart from the monster-hunting and item-looting tasks. There's no shortage of quests, so don't worry. Just as its predecessor, though, revisiting dungeons will be a required habit of sorts in this game. Rewards are equally fair. Grinding doesn't offer much satisfaction due to the low EXP from individual monsters. Like Grand Chase, it would still be best to complete quests and submit everything on the quest log in one go. There are quests overlappping each other in an objective, which actually saves precious game time when the need arises. And yes, that pretty much sums up the best part of the game.

The controls in the game are fairly simple. Just use the arrow keys to move; Z and X for actions. Skills are assigned shortcut keys via the ASDF (or otherwise specified) keys. There's no steep learning curve to combat. Taking out monsters require a pinch of timing and a great deal of button mashing. Skills are readily defined from the get go. They are also interchangeable as the character progresses. Unlike the previous versions of Grand Chase, Elsword already sports skill trees on the get go for all the characters. Every level progression hands out 2 skill points. For every 5 skill points used in the skill tree, the next tier automatically unlocks. The damage dealt by these skills have a significant improvement as its skill level rises, and just like Grand Chase, the MP cost is consistent all throughout. Don't think of skills as something usable in a combo though. Just like Grand Chase (again), most of the skills can only be used on their own or as a finisher of sorts. The combat ends up just mashing the attack button to rack up combo points, while skills are used sparsely. The skills are underutilized in this game (and its predecessor too), but its negligence is compensated by the fact that mashing the attack button can actually "hitlock" an opponent to death. Cheesy, but it works.

Thankfully, Elsword has a town to run around with other friends and players, compared to Grand Chase's plaza area. The world map is particularly similar to its predecessor. Stages are dotted around the area, with a required level for entry. Each stage has different difficulties, and the higher difficulty settings can be unlocked after completing the lower difficulties, just like Grand Chase! Party creation is simple. Players can either wait for a full party or create one instead. Regardless, the party number is maximized to four characters. Enemies increase in level and overall stats with progressing difficulty. The hard mode sports similar monster buffs as Grand Chase too. Item and coin drop rates significantly improve with increasing difficulty too.

The stages aren't small like Grand Chase. Hands down to KOG for designing stages that are really scrollable beyond the limits of the game screen. It pretty much looks like a cross between Maple Story and Dragonica. They're actually enjoyable to look at. The problem is, like Grand Chase, quests and grinds forces everyone to repeat the stages multiple times. This was also Dragonica's problem in its first release, due to its limited dungeon selection and easily explorable field maps. Consistent with Grand Chase's gameplay, Elsword wants players to keep coming back to the same stage until the everything has been squeezed dry from it. It's too repetitive that it gets too tiring to repeat the same process for the whole Elsword stay.

Elsword's graphics and sounds are a great improvement from Grand Chase. Cel-shaded characters and environments on pre-rendered watercolor CG environments make the game pleasing and casual to the eye. Don't expect a lot of detail though. The game runs enough visual juice to balance out eye-candy and playability.The comic/manga style makes the game quite unique and lively too. Other than that, KOG hasn't steered far from its old Grand Chase formula. It still feels like Grand Chase, plays like Grand Chase, looks like Grand Chase. Anyone impatient and easily bored from repetitive games, steer clear from this game. Elsword is a passable casual treat, at best.

Credits: MMOsite

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1 comment:

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