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GAME REVIEW - June 14, 2006

by Devon Varesko

Freelancer (PC)

My Rating: 7 out of 10


Freelancer is a futuristic science fiction space game. You control a ship and do various things from missions and mining to exploring the vast expanses of space. And when I say vast - I mean it. The game "world" is actually a galaxy, with tons of solar systems to explore. The introduction to the game reveals a back-story where humans colonized this new galaxy to escape many conflicts in the good-old Milky Way.

You control a ship as you travel across this strange galaxy, and the method of control is the all too obvious mouse and keyboard - unless you have a good joystick or other controller for it. It controls a lot like a shooter, and is reminiscent of games like Descent and Freespace 2.

In the single-player game, you are known as "Trent" - a freelancer who has bad luck on "Freeport 7" and is soon brought to the center of trade in the galaxy - Planet Manhattan.

Speaking of Planet Manhattan, the planet names are kind of silly, but are based on names in the real world we all know so well. Planet New Berlin, New Tokyo, and New London are some of the names that come to mind.

Trent faces a large number of strange events, eventually revealing an alien plot to ruin the humans' new home in this strange galaxy. As one of the few people who know about it, he eventually takes action to set things right - of course, while doing so he manages to acquire a decent profit, new weapons, and goes through a number of new ships.

This game, in my opinion, is like a MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game, except that it can be like that in singleplayer as well as multiplayer (but lacking the large number of players you would see in a game like EVE or Anarchy Online). Or I would also view it like an RPG (Roleplaying Game). That's because it's got a unique freelancing mode that lets you take various missions at any location throughout the game. You browse through an available list, and select one which matches your needs. Certain equipment and ships are also only available at certain locations, and costs more credits for the better ones. Your "level" is determined by your net worth, and you have reputation with various groups (including police, corporations, pirates, and more).

When you beat singleplayer, it is this freelancing aspect of the game that can keep it alive for hours more gameplay after you beat it - or you can play it again if you liked the singleplayer story that much.

Multiplayer is a lot like singleplayer, except without the storyline. It also tends to restrict you from entering areas which are specifically for singleplayer (and this is probably the best thing to do because there would usually be little to explore in those areas). You can carry over a lot of your experience from the singleplayer game to the multiplayer game as well.

Some of the biggest problems with it is that missions are all very similar. It usually will involved destroying a ship or group of ships, and mission payout, location, and difficulty is all very predictable. This results in the game becoming very repetitive, especially after completing singleplayer and trying to level up on a multiplayer server (on most servers you will have to "level up" all over again from scratch, as they don't have proof that you really levelled up in the singleplayer game on their server. Some servers offer freebies to get you started, and there are a number of mods available.)

The Trade Routes are also very repetitive. Most people find one or two trade routes and stick to them to maximize their profits. If they take another less well-known route, they won't get many credits for it.

Another annoying feature is that you have to wait for NPC's to dock with stations, jump gates, and planets (yes, you have to "dock" with planets - it's also quite lame). Oh yeah, also when you are docking with things you will often have to sit through boring cut-scenes (although you can skip these sometimes in singleplayer).

The graphics in this game are decent, but the music is just plain eerie. If you want a strange lonely and depressing feeling as you are flying through space, then maybe you'll like it, otherwise, I'd almost go as far as to suggest shutting it off - except then you'll have difficulty telling if you are in combat.

In summary, Freelancer is a great game for Sci-Fi space fanatics. However, it will get repetitive after time, so don't expect to be playing it much after you've had it for a couple months.

Related Links:

Official Freelancer Site

Lancer's Reactor - Community Website