Impressions: Free Realms – Free MMO

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Free Realms is a new free to play MMO, developed by Sony Online and released this past week for the PC, but with a planned future release on the PlayStation 3. The game has been in Beta for sometime at this point as has been receiving alot of buzz and deservedly so.

Its visual style is immediately reminiscent of World of War, featuring bright vivid colours, a cartoony art style and a fantasy setting. Although, this game isn’t quite as fantastical as WoW, only featuring the choice to play as Humans or Pixies, rather than the large number of races present in Warcraft.

From a technical standpoint, in found the game is very impressive. The only download that you have to do is a small client download (approx 2-3mb), the rest is streamed to your computer as and when you need it and this is all achieved entirely in browser. This means that it is possible to visit the site, setup an account and get playing within mere minutes. The graphics are nice looking on high end machines, but nothing that’s going to really strain a gaming rig, the performance setting are very scaleable. As well as playing it on my quite respectable gaming pc, I was able to playing it on my aging 4-5 year old laptop with a playable frame rate, so its ideal for kids with hand-me down pc’s.

You start off by picking your character, choosing from either male/female pixies or humans. After this, you select how you want your character to appear, choosing from a number of shapes, sizes and colours for body parts. Naming your character is done from grouping together pre-approved words/names from drop down menus, presumably to prevent offensive or inappropriate naming. Once your character is setup you are ready to go and the game launches full screen, dropping you into the starting tutorial filled area. In this area, you are initially shown the basic controls such as movement and camera control before being tasked to scare away some goblins who are bothering nearby livestock. After this you make your way to a farm where you can learn how to fight and cook. Upon completing these tutorials, you are prompted to make your way to the actual game world where you are introduced to the towns folk, and given a few simple fetch quests before being thrust into the game to make your own story/adventure.

It has definitely been designed with a younger audience in mind, but has plenty of features to keep everyone entertained. There is a really impressive amount of activities to get immersed in. Within the 2 or so hours I played the game I was able to take part in multiple cooking mini games, learn how to take care of your (optional and paid for) pet, fight off some goblins, play a few rounds of the surprisingly complete trading card game and take part in circuit and demolition derby races at the racetrack.
Each of the activities starts of very simple, but there is a fair amount of depth to each one that you’ll discover whilst leveling up your jobs.

Whilst the game is free to play, it is monetised via making you pay for certain extra features, for example the pets, with a currency that can only be purchased with real world funds. There is also a subscription on offer, which enables you to have up to 3 characters on one account as you are limited to just one on the free service. There is a useful option to get a family subscription which offers you multiple accounts for a reduced rate, ideal to get parents playing along-side their kids.

I can see this game being very popular on PC and especially on the PS3 if it remains free there too. Whilst I can’t see myself sinking a whole lot of hours into this game, I can see myself loading it up every now and then when I have an hour to waste. I am clearly not its target audience, but it entertained me never the less. I would recommend this to anyone with young children, it’s a free, relatively safe place in which to let them loose, although I would recommend parental supervision, either over the shoulder, or more preferably sign yourself up for an account too.

Go check it out at: www.freerealms.com

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~ by rusted3572 on May 7, 2009.

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