I’ve been waiting a long time for a good, and I mean good space fighting game that hooks me in. Now, there have been many space fighting games, don’t get me wrong. Most of them were good, however; none just pulled me in, and kept me there. Now we have Freelancer, does this game rise above the rest? Or do I remain searching for the right ingredients to indulge myself into an endless space adventure?
Graphically Freelancer impresses. Not that it does anything that hasn’t been done before, just that it does it right. Explosions light your screen to a point that you want to squint your eyes. Ships are beautifully detailed, with textures and great lighting effects, there is no mistaking the Freelancer is one sold looking game. Cinematics are fantastic, animations are top notch and character facial expressions make you feel like you’re watching a soap opera?is that good? Just take a look at the screenshots; you won’t believe your eyes.
The first thing you’ll notice while playing Freelance is the lack of joystick support. Obviously trying to hook in ?simulation’ fans, you are forced to use the mouse and keyboard combination for controlling your character and your space ship. Not to worry though, in my opinion a joystick would have been a nuisance because the key and mouse control scheme is absolutely perfect. Aiming is as easy as pie, and controlling your space shuttle is deep, yet easy to maneuver. Freelancer does its best to play as fast paced and exciting as an arcade game, however keeps its cool, by also having its simulation aspects. Take your HUD for example. You don’t have radar, so you don’t really know where your opponents are, all you see is either directly in front of you, or behind you. This sounds bad, but actually works significantly well. Also, usually in space simulations your default camera is the cockpit view, which gives you the realistic feeling of flying the craft, however in Freelancer your default view is 3rd person perspective. This means, you actually see the whole craft while flying. Now, this doesn’t mean much however, it does give off the feeling that Freelancer is trying to please everyone, and does a great job of it.
If you’ve played Digital Anvil’s first game Starlancer, you will strangely notice that Freelancer does try to be somewhat of a sequel. And while Freelancer does a great job of keeping your attention with its fantastic character graphics, and animation, it does suffer from the same old thing feeling.
The story unfolds with fantastic cinemas, which evoke character development and also surprise us with some twists and turns. The gameplay aspect of the story involves several campaign missions which usually involve destroying enemies and enemy bases. Although repetitive, missions are long, hard, and exciting, which leads me to my next point. Freelancer does have a save feature that automatically saves for you after every major event within a missions so, if you die, you don’t have to start all the way from the start. Which is good. Freelancer also sets itself apart from other space shooters in such a way that it incorporates a few RPG elements into the mix. After each mission is completed successfully, your player is rewarded with level advancements which will allow you to obtain better weapons and more powerful ships. So yes, it keeps you going, even just for the mere fact of you wanting to see your next weapon, or ship. The RPG elements are small, but present. If you don’t feel like playing through the entire story line, you can take on randomly generated missions that are far more boring then the story missions, and involve nothing more then defeating your enemies to make a few extra bucks.
Freelancer, you can tell tries not to be what other games are. Attempts to be different in every aspect, and while does a good job, fails to understand that sometimes, there is no way out. What I am talking about is the audio. The sounds in the game are average. Well, let me explain a bit further. Audio is good, explosions and gun fire are above average, however; the greatness of the environmental sounds are annoyingly drowned out by the repetitive conversations between you and your alias. When I say annoyingly I mean annoyingly!
The multiplayer aspect of Freelancer is an RPG game in itself. Although there is no story driven plot for you and your alias, there is also no level restriction for you character. What does this mean? When logged into a server online, you have access to the entirety of space allowed in Freelancer. Allowing you to fly around gaining experience points and advancements, getting better weapons, ships and building yourself to be the ultimate online fighting machine. If you do spend the time in online character development, you must always log into the same server to continue on with the same character. Freelancer saves your character profile on the server in which you logged in, so keep logging in to the same server and you will be unstoppable.
Freelancer does a lot of things right, yet falls in other aspects. A solid single player story driven game, with subtle but addictive RPG elements for character advancement, and a massive online environment that will keep you busy for life are elements that make this game worth while. However, repetitiveness is a stab in the back that occurs even in the best of games. Give Freelancer a shot, the good heavily out weights the bad and it won’t disappoint.