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Many many years ago as a child I remember one of the first computer games that I really got into was Elite back on the old BBC microcomputer. As a space shoot-em-up and commodity trading game, Elite quickly established itself as one of the greatest and most important games of all time. Then they released Frontier Elite 2 for the PC, which despite being a fairly decent update, failed to capture the same levels of success as the original. Now I believe that we finally have a space game to rival the original Elite, in the shape of Freelancer, which was released on Microsoft in 2003, and is now available from high street stores or in the usual places on line for a mere £5 or so.
The system requirements of this game were quite brutal for the time. The minimum spec of the game is a 600MHz processor, 128MB RAM a 16MB graphics card and 1.3GB hard drive space. I would caution you however, that this is an absolute minimum and could still run incredibly slowly on this sort of machine, so the higher your stats the better to be honest. However as times have moved on, this should now be able to run on any relatively modern PC.
Installation is very straight forward indeed. The game comes on one CD-ROM which will auto-run, and you just sit back and follow the onscreen instructions. It will also detect whether or not DirectX 9 needs to be installed and will do this as well if it is necessary. (Which it probably isn't for anyone running Windows XP or better)
The main advantage of this game is the fact that it has a fantastic storyline, with many unexpected plot twists and backstabbing around every corner. (Does space have corners?) It is very difficult here for me to give an overview of the plot without spoiling some of the surprises, so please understand why I am keeping this section reasonably brief.
The game is set in the distant future; 800 years after a bloody war decimated the human race. Two sides, the coalition and the alliance fought and as a last resort the Alliance launched 5 ships full of colonists to the Sirius system to make a fresh start for humanity. These ships represented 4 nations of the Earth, and as a result in this new system their are many different cultures, Liberty - American, Bretonia - British, Rheinland - Germany, and finally Kusari - Japanese. The colonies borders expanded and now all but a handful of border worlds are under the control of one of the factions. To begin with all of the colonies are on friendly terms with each other but this will quickly change and sooner rather than later you will not know whom to trust!!!
The game for the player begins on Freeport 7, a trading outpost, and you play a character called Edison Trent. He is a freelancer, meaning that he represents none of the factions, and instead earns his living taking jobs and trading for himself. He is here with a shipment of goods but an unknown enemy suddenly attacks the station. As a result, you are taken by the rescue ships to Planet Manhatten in Liberty space, a man without money, job or a ship. Here is where the adventure starts for you.
In the bar you meet up with a Liberty security officer and in return for your help with some basic low risk missions, she gives you a very basic ship. From here, the game progresses as you are plunged into an ever-changing world of deceit, bluff and counter-bluff all connected to an excellent story to boot.
The controls of this game are very simple to get to grips with. Steering the ship is done with the mouse, either in free flight mode, where you can set the sensitivity of the mouse to your liking, and also in mouse flight mode, which is really useful when flying long distances, as it allows you to just set the ship on course and sit back a minute and let it fly there. Weapons are fired with the mouse also, with several keys having added effects such as countermeasures and missiles, but these are not essential in the playing of the game. You can pick from a wide variety of ships, and as you gain more credits from rewards, trading and selling loot, you can upgrade the ship where available. From small wimpy fighters like the one you start with, to large cargo freighters, to heavy fighters with lots of armour, and many gun mounts, the choice is really up to you.
The graphics of this game are really quite excellent. They have stood the test of time, and don't look out of place on a modern PC. They have managed to get a good balance between 2D and 3D images, which avoids stuttering on crowded battle scenes, and also despite the excellent effects, have avoided the temptation to go overboard with the graphics, which many games released in the last few years tend to do.
Sound quality is also very impressive, with each and every possible effect being included. The conversations between friends and enemies is very clear, and this game will play sound on any system to the maximum of its ability, and is fully compatible with the majority of sound cards, and requires directX9 which as I said earlier is included on the disk if you need it.
My one main problem with this game comes once the missions are complete - There really is not that much to left to do. Fine there are other systems to explore, but this does not really satisfy for as long as I would like, and the continuity seems to suffer at times at the end, with events being "forgotten" or rehashed from earlier in the game. However taking this into account, this is only a minor concern as the main storyline is quite long, and I would thoroughly recommend this game to anyone. Whether you like space games or not, this is a game like Elite all those years ago that will win new fans and in my opinion still be remembered in the far distant future!!!
Thanks for reading and this review also appears on Ciao under my same username.
Freelancer is still one of the best space-sim games around, even seven years on from its release date. The single player story mode is extensive and can keep a player going for hours. The storyling is really engaging too which is something that is usually lacking in similar games from this genre. Some of the cutscenes are extremely well done and the voice actors really add to it. You are Edison Trent and you fight in a quest to discover the strange goings-on throughout the four houses of Sirius Space, which are Rheinland (Germany), Liberty (USA), Bretonia (UK) and Kusari (Japan). Behind it lies a strange alien race with only evil in their minds.
The controls can be a bit complex for someone new to this type of game as there are a lot of controls but many of them are not particularly necessary anyway so most users will get on alright.
The multiplayer mode is even better than the single player mode. From the internet, players can download several very good quality mods and most of these mods have their own servers for players to enjoy playing together. You can choose to be a pirate, to smuggle, to trade, to be a bounty hunter or to just sit around looking sorry for yourself and wait for someone to give you a huge wad of cash (which does occasionally work I can assure you).
There is also an extensive amount of ships, weapons and trading items which range from Alien Organisms to drugs (careful with this one).
All in all then Freelancer is a fantastic game which offers much to gamers and the many different things you can do within the game add to the quality.
Freelancer is a 3D sci-fi space simulator that is getting pretty old now. I recently decided to dig out my copy and give it a go as I never actually got around to playing it seriously.
Unlike most games, Freelancer is set in an open universe meaning the player is not tied to a specific storyline. This means that the player can drop in and out of the storyline whenever they please allowing them to craft their own adventure. From trading to combat missions, it is all present in Freelancer.
The game is set 800 years after a war between two factions in which one eventually conquered the other forcing many colonies to flee deep into the universe. The story picks up after the destruction of a space station by some unknown fighters. You play one of the survivors who is a 'freelancer' a person who is both a mercenary for hire as well as a universal trader.
The game is rather big and allows you to explore different sectors at your own pace. Furthermore, most of the sectors contain a planet at which you can land your ship and talk to the patrons at the local bar to find out the news or to be hired for jobs.
The game features numerous ships to be brought and upgraded and a relatively easy to use yet exciting combat system. Starting with a relatively small ship, you can work your way up to much larger heavily defended ships in no time.
With this being such a classic in many people's eyes, it is no surprise that there is still a die-hard multiplayer community for this game. THe multiplayer mode basically allows you to carry on your single player mission but within a multiplayer world allowing other players to assist you or giving you the chance to engage in combat with other players from around the world.
The graphics are not the best however with a good graphics card they do look pretty good and don't seem dated. The game itself is still very enjoyable and after playing for many hours I found that I couldn't get enough of the fast paced combat.
With such a large online community, there are also numerous mods (add-ons) available for this game which both add to the storyline or change the game altogether. Once I had completed the single play storyline, I decided to download the popular Star Wars edition of these mods giving you access to the popular ships from the Star Wars films as well as some storylines.
This is an excellent game that wouldn't be out of place if it was released today. I would definately recommend you pick it up for a few pounds and give it a try. I hope that one day, you will gain as much enjoyment out of this game as I have.
This is from my review on the ciao site
Freelancer is the name of the game and your occupation; you begin the game as one of the survivors of Freeport 7 a large space station in the liberty star system which is destroyed by persons or beings unknown....
Is this an isolated incident or the first warning shot of a global conflict?
The survivors of a war on earth left home in suspended animation and after thousands of years set up home in 4 star systems named for the nations which occupy them.
Bretonia - United Kingdom
Rhineland - Germans
Liberty - America
Kusari - Japan
You begin the game by buying a small craft and buying, transporting and selling commodities to other planets and space stations or take missions for one group against another.
Don't be fooled into believing this is a simple buy and sell sim, how you behave towards one group or faction determines how thier enemies and allies view your existence.
This is a very important aspect of the game because as your popularity with one group increases, the enemy of that group will dislike you for murdering their friends and family, this means they will attack you on sight.
As you progress you are faced with 13 game missions you must accept to progress in the game these range from simple go to and destroy missions to racing against other pilots in a space race track.
As you complete these missions a masterful tale of corruption and deceit unfolds as you uncover a huge conspiracy to destroy mankind.
In this game you only control your current space craft not Trent [your alter ego] and you must upgrade and modify your spacecraft constantly.
One of the problems with this game is when you enter an area with your enemies attacking another group, once they spot you they all attack you and ignore the other group totally.
This aside, you also have to unmask the mastermind behind a plot to destroy humanity.
This aside, Freelancer is a compelling space adventure
In you nav map check out the patrol paths of your allies, enemies and those neutral to you, if you see several paths converging on a point in space there will be something of interest there [i.e. space station, abandoned space craft etc].
Always upgrade your craft, shield and weapons at any opportunity
Don't waste credits buying expensive torpedo launchers and mines because they are more trouble than they are worth
Don't rush into the game missions right away, take your time and upgrade before taking on any of the trickier game missions.
Freelancer is a space flight combat / exploration game. You find yourself in the middle of a large colonized universe with various political and racial groups living and trading for the most part peacefully. You start with a spectrum of political affiliation and as you progress through the game this changes based on your actions. As you advance through the story you level up, the only real benefit of this being that all of the ships in the game have level requirements you must to meet before you can purchase them.
The biggest problem with this game is that the story keeps you on rails for most of the game. Although you get a certain amount of freedom on some missions generally you're kept on a straight path with no game changing decisions to make. The story also controls your alignment and where you are in space. On the plus side this stops you from wandering off into an area of space where high level enemies await but on the down side it restricts the amount of exploration you can do in what is a very interesting and visually pleasing universe.
Despite this the story portion of the game is very satisfying and I've played through it several times as it is out of the box as well as trying a few of the many mods which are available. (On 2nd play through I recommend increasing trade lane speed)
So the story is good but once it's over what is there to do? Given how much you see and do in the story it's something of a shock to realize that there are still plenty of places to go, things to see, ships to fly and weapons to try. And since you don't know what's available at a given location until you go there this means plenty of exploring. The joy of this game is that there is no single perfect ship. The ship classes are Light Fighter, Heavy Fighter, Very Heavy Fighter and Freighter. Each class has different qualities - Light Fighters are fast turning but relatively weak, Very Heavy Fighters can mount the best weapons but are slow turning, Heavy fighters are a mix of the 2 and Freighters have vast cargo capacity for trade runs. And of course each ship within the class is different. The ship you will probably end the story in is not the best in its class and you won't have anywhere near the best weapons or shields so continuing to play is rewarded.
The interface is simple and easy, the ships look and feel individual and the combat if great fun.
I remember when i used to play Starlancer, another game made by the same company as this. I used to play that game all the time, and then i found this.
This game is, to put a point on it, great. The graphics are amazing, flying through space looks real and in depth, with stars and nebulae flying by your screen, weaving in and out of asteroid fields, or flying along the underbelly of a capital ship, yes, each has highly textured surfaces, and look fantastic!
The Game play is good, with the main storyline being intriguing and deep. You never expect the twists in it, although sometimes the mission feel almost the same.
Flying your ship feels good! Everything is very responsive, as you fly by mouse, and this sensitive and quick movement really adds to the feel of the game. You can also fly by keyboard, but that is nowhere near as fun as using the mouse to dodge rocks and asteroids!
The sound is 3D, and excellent. It really draws you into the game, and before long you forget your looking through a computer screen, you really are *there*.
Unfortunately, they didn't build a cockpit for the ship. Going to a front view just results in a view with no decal, which some may like, but i prefer flying from the third person view.
In conclusion, it's a great game! Although, the addition of a few more varied missions, and some cockpit decals would of made it even better!
Freelancer is a worthy sequel..to a rabid 2d game called Starlancer. For fans who have been playing the space based Starlancer, you would immediately recognize the difference and ease of use with Freelancer. Firstly, Starlancer is a 2D game while Freelancer is 3D based. It's an action packed game from Digital Anvil and published worldwide by Microsoft.
By the way, if you intend to purchase Starlancer, forget it. You won't be interested in it anyway. The movement of the mouse is quite cumbersome and you would throw it away if you have played Freelancer already.
What Freelancer is about: It's one of those swashbuckling, cowboy styled action packed space adventure - a space race, some bombings and killing aliens.
The character Edison Trent is a direct copy of the hero from an earlier game - Pirateer. A war between two major factions, the Coalition and the Alliance, has been waged in the Earth's solar system for decades (see Starlancer for the video game based on this conflict). Eventually, the Coalition gains the upper hand and the Alliance, sensing defeat, builds a group of five colony ships in secret. Each ship represents one of the major members in The Alliance: the Kusari (Japan), the Rheinland (Germany), the Liberty (America), the Bretonia (Britain), and the Hispania (Spain). Fortunately, all five escape the Coalition blockade and head toward the Sirius sector carrying thousands of colonists.
That's the opening intro for the game. The game opens 800 years later with the colonies well settled. Our hero Trent starts with a narrow escape from a bombing on Freeport 7.
He meets with Junko Zane a cop and they are slowly involved in a conspiracy with Rhineland attacking Liberty warships... They chance across an alien artifact - the key and solution to the different jump gates left over by aliens. They realise that the aliens are slowly spreading themselves in important humans - to make mankind slaves or exterminate them eventually. The problem is the Rheinlanders attacking the heroes badly at every point to take control of the artifact.
How they go about by thwarting the aliens and seeking new allies like the Order finally destroying the alien entrance is the main story. You get to play the character of Edison Trent. And of course Junko Zane is the lead heroine accompanying you on most missions. Unfortunately, my character Trent never gets as much as a kiss... (After all the trouble I take to save the human race from aliens.. :-P )
The gossip in the bar and by the people is quite useful when you are looking to trade in cargo for building up your credits. That's quite useful.
The story is level based and in between the main story, you are frequented with missions to collect credits (Credits would be money in our terms) for upgrading your weaponry. At the end of the story (Level 18) you can continue collecting credits till Level 38. You need to check the requirements at each level whether it's a mission or a credit collecting level. Once completed, you are through to the next level. For ex., at level 13-14 (Don't remember which) there is a race between a pirate and Trent. The pirate states that he has to win in a race in exchange for the information Trent seeks. Once Edison wins the race, he gains the info he seeks and proceeds to a point. At the point he realizes that he has to defend the scientist (xenearchealogist -Beats me that it actually exists) and then escorts him back to Leeds. This completes a level. The next level is about collecting credits. It proceeds in a similar fashion..
After level 38, you are free to do as you please without any limits. However the only drawback - it is a short game. (You can complete the entire game in under 8 hours. Upto level 22 when I lost interest - Like a fast paced novel) Besides after level 38 they should have provided a feature or allow us to purchase base stations. That would have been worth it. It's lack often sees me quit after level 19. Only once have a completed the game till level 38..
However most of the facts like collecting energy from the Sun (Dyson's sphere) is an educational view point. It remains to be seen if it is actually possible to collect energy from the sun (by surrounding it with solar plates).
The visual graphics are stunning.. I mean, space is infinite and I didn't realize how beautiful it can be at certain places. Ofcourse, when the game released, the system requirements were quite high. (As usual for a Microsoft game) And no gaming devices were supported.(the same as in Rallisport Challenge)
Microsoft Windows 98/Me/XP/2000/ or above with 600 MHz equivalent or higher processor
128 MB of system RAM 900 MB available hard disk space
8x speed or faster CD-ROM drive
16 MB video card with TnL functionality
Obviously, I would recommend a 3d sound card, with a 256 MB graphics card and multiple monitors or a big screen for this. The 3d effects really are astounding. I mean this game did influence a lot of the games to opt for TnL cards.
For online/multiplay options, you can either host or join one of the hosted servers and partner with other players to fight against automatically generated enemy craft. But I seriously recommend LAN or Broadband to play this game. Dial ups are very unhelpful and you get frequent disconnects.
Of course the requirements specified are the bare minimum, you would actually want to check the below recommendations MS suggests. 1.5 Ghz or above. 512 MB (XP) and a 128 bit TnL card (Nvidia) or above with a Soundblaster Live card. With some of the integrated sound cards, you might have to disable 3D sounds within the game to hear the sound. Otherwise the mouse might skip, sound might be erratic or other issues might arise.
But if you have the recommended then prepare for some stunning visual effects and 3D sound. BTW, if you want to check if any game meets the system requirements or if your system is capable of playing a particular game, you can do so by checking the MS games advisory.
As posted at Mouthshut
This is probably my favourite game of all time. This game has really stood the test of time and still manages to amaze with it's outstanding graphics and unlimited online play, it never ceases to amaze everyone when I tell them it is actually 5 years old (Release date: 6th June, 2003).
I would recommend this game to anyone. It has a great storyline, unlimited customization for both single player, and online, and free roaming missions, meaning you can never completely finish the game.
Don't take this to mean that the game will get boring, as the game is very adaptive. The better you are (higher level) the harder the missions become, and the range of online capabilities, including wars, fan made areas, mods designed specifically for servers which can be turned on or off at your will.
One thing that never changes, regardless of whether you are playing online or offline is the graphics. Something I never get bored of seeing is the texture of the asteroids as you fly past them at god knows how fast, or the transportation animation that appears as you go through a jump gate. Even the planets look amazing. The only let down here is the graphics when you are on the planet, but don't worry too much about them, you aren't on the planets much anyway.
This game was my first online, with friends... so it will allways maintain a special place in my heart.
The story is that your home for a while "freeport 7" has been destroyed and now you have a free life and choose to be what you want, a pirate/bounty hunter/navy and much more. It has a great deal of freedom to it, but not so much that you dont know what to do.
The battle system has a very nice feel to it, there is two basic modes of transport, free flight and mouse flight, mouse flight is basically move your mouse and your ship will follow, free flight is drag down by holding the click 1 down. for basic travelling i find free easier but in the adrenaline heart pumping battle scenes mouse flight is far superior in my opinion.
To Obtain new ships/weapons-armor/missions you must first dock at a selected planet or outpost, this is where my only flaw in the game comes in, lack of freedom on planets, you can only move by clicking an icon on the top of the screen, meaning you have a limited number of things to do when docked.
The music has a mystic feel to it, when flying through the beautifully created space, the music really makes you feel as part of the game. When you get into a battle the music changes to a more fast paced upbeat tempo giving you an andrenaline boost, when you know theres a single nomad with the ablilites to take down a large group of skilled pilots.
Online is where the major fun comes in, because though many people dont know it... freelancer is ever growing. People make fan made MODS changing the game play and adding HUGE! new systems, in fact i recently downloaded one that tripled the size of the known original universe. Online play is fun, its like doing all of single player with a buddy who can help you do the harder missions.
Life span if rushed is about 20 hours, but if everything is done its about 80-90 hours, the replay value is literally infinite.
I suggest you all go buy it now
One day, years ago one of my mates ran up to me one day and showed me what looked suspiciously like his geometry homework. He was trying to say something, but the bit of paper he held in his hands only contained what looked like a random collection of simple triangles. I took the bait... "Wassat?" I asked, squinting at the paper. "Fer de Lance" he replied, grinning. "Amazing, isn't it?" And so began my education of what was known as Elite. Elite, if you didn't already know, was a space-based trading and combat game released on the BBC Micro (and later on the more popular home computers). It was the first game to truly immerse you in a created universe and let you do what you wanted (within reason). People have been trying to emulate it for years without success. There have been many attempts to produce 'the new Elite'. Frontier (the official Elite sequel) or X: Beyond the Frontier are provably two of the most successful and well known, and to this list we can now add Freelancer. Freelancer is produced by Microsoft and Digital Anvil, which might not mean a lot, but if I mentioned that Digital Anvil consisted of the same guys who did the Wing Commander games, then you might take notice. Of course, in order to set the scene there has to be a story. The background to the Freelancer universe is told in the animated introduction which shows a war in our Solar system fought between two rival factions ? the Coalition and the Alliance. We are told by the gravelly voiced narrator that the Coalition eventually took the upper hand and launched an all out attack on the Alliance who had built huge spaceships to escape to another galaxy. The escape plan worked, and five of the spaceships (each representing a nation on Earth) left to start new colonies in the Sirius system. Eight hundred years later, you are Edison Trent (where having a name like a power company isn't co
nsidered to be uncool). You are one of the few survivors of a devastating and ruthless attack on Freeport 7, a space station. However, your troubles are not over. Someone wants you dead and you want your money which is due to you from a deal which was taking place at the time of the attack. Added to this, you are under suspicion by the authorities simply because you are a survivor. In order to try and make some sense of it all, you're going to have to get a ship and get out there to look for some answers while you wait for your acquaintance to recover from his injuries enough to repay you. Luckily, a representative from the Liberty Security Force, Jun'ko Zane, offers you a ship in return for doing a contract for her. That's your cue to get out into the void and, well, do essentially whatever you like. Doing whatever you like is pretty much the main selling point of Freelancer. Once you get your ship, you can take off and explore the universe, funding your way using whichever means you like ? that might mean being a pirate or a trader or a bounty hunter. That's not entirely true though because there is the story/plot to consider. It involves around thirteen missions which can get very difficult if you try to play them through from the start of the game. The best course of action is to take your time, build up your cash to buy better weapons etc. and then take on each mission when you feel ready to do so. The good thing about the story arc through the game is that you can divert off from it and do your own thing for a while in order to build up your ship and flying/fighting skills. Getting into the game is easy enough as there are plenty of hints and explanations given to you regarding various aspects of the game. The control method is quite innovative using the mouse for most things (although the keyboard can be used for other things, too) and while it is a bit awkward initially, soon becomes second nature.
Graphics. The graphics are by no means state of the art, but that's not a bad thing. They're colourful and detailed when necessary and even on a relatively old PC, they still move around quickly. The planets and nebulae look wonderful, although there is a certain similarity in all things i.e. the space stations all look as if they come from the same mould as do the interiors of the bars, dealers etc. which does mean that you're not really as inclined to explore than if there'd been more graphical variety. Each of the different 'nations' has its own graphical identity, although once you've seen one or two star systems in each nation, you've pretty much seen everything. But no-one plays games purely for the graphics, and this lack of variety is only a minor negative point. Sound. The sounds effects are very good, complimenting the gameplay perfectly. They're quiet when they need to be, often practically fading into the background e.g. the background hum when you're on a space station or in a bar) or being incredibly loud (when you're in a fight) when necessary. There are some nice touches such as when you're flying around and you 'overhear' other radio transmissions between a group of spacecraft and the space version of air traffic control, although these are only aesthetic touches. It would have been nice if you could use the information from these overheard snippets to perhaps find some secrets in the game. The voice acting of the main cast is excellent, despite the really poor B-movie dialogue. This really isn't really that much of a surprise when you consider that the cast includes Ian Ziering (the blonde one out of Beverley Hills 90210), John Rhys Davies (Gimli in Lord of the Rings), Michael T. Weiss (Jarod from the almost unknown 'The Pretender', which is fabulous) and I think even George Takei (Sulu from Star Trek) shows up along the way. <
br> It's hard to say that much about the supporting cast though as their lines seem to be done in that way which means the phrases can be mixed and matched to produce many different 'conversations' and can appear wooden at times. Controls. As stated above, Freelancer uses the mouse primarily. I think it is possible to use the mouse entirely if you choose to do so, but it's so fiddly that it's really not worth the bother. However, once you get used to the mouse system for moving your craft around, it does seem as if you've used it for years. The keys are well defined and it is possible to redefine them to a certain extent e.g the weapons keys can be changed by changing how your weapons are placed on your spaceship. Gameplay. Well, the plot grabs you from the start and gets you out into space. Once there, there's so much for you to do initially that it's pretty compulsive stuff. The difficulty level was set just about right for me and I always seemed to be making progress (albeit at varying paces, but progress nonetheless) and I didn't really hit a wall until the latter 'plot' missions which were too difficult at the time. It was fun trying to balance my reputation with the many different factions in Freelancer (e.g. do a mission for the Liberty Police and your standing with a group of smugglers will decrease), but ultimately, this held limited appeal once the plot had finished. By this time though the novelty had worn off slightly ? I'd seen most of the graphics, found a few secrets and was most of the way through the plot. I was fed up of hearing the same lines from different bartenders in many different systems and doing the same small number of missions for the varying factions. I should add that there are secrets in the game, mostly derelict ships and space stations not included on any maps which can yield rare (i.e. expensive) items to sell
. I think there are also rumours about another secret (which I won't go into here to avoid spoilers), so if you have the patience, there does seem to be enough to keep you going. There are also many modifications out there for you to install and try. They mostly seem to be of the type to change the graphics, so you could fly around in Star Wars spaceships, or even Battlestar Galactica ones. They're usually freely available on the internet if you want to search through your favourite search engine. Multiplayer. I tried playing this over 56k dialup modem and I really shouldn't have bothered as it was so slow and jerky it was unplayable. The idea seems pretty good to have a consistent universe where people can do what they like (following on from the single player game) and there are areas set aside for new players to hone their online skills without fear of some experienced player coming in with a huge, heavily armed ship and shooting them within minutes. Only worth experiencing if you have broadband. PC Specifications. Recommended: 600 MHz processor 128MB RAM 16MB, 3D video card CDROM and soundcard 900MB hard drive space My specs: 1.3 GHz processor 704MB RAM GeForce 4 440MX video card Soundblaster Live! Platinum Soundcard With these specs, I found the game ran very well with no graphical glitches or slowdown, although the game is not technically advanced, so slower machines could potentially run this game happily. Overall. Initially, I thought it was great ? interesting, fairly addictive, easy to pick up and get going (no tutorial to speak of, but plenty of in-game advice). At the start, it did seem like an Elite beater, but once the initial rush of playing a good space combat/trading game had gone, it did get repetitive rather quickly and after the plot missions had finished I saw no reason to continue playing. I bought m
y copy off eBay for around £15, and I don't think I'd like to have paid any more than £20 for it. At £20 it's acceptable for the amount of entertainment you'd get out of it, but don't expect it to be a game you can come back to time and time again like GTA: Vice City, Unreal Tournament, Civilization 3 or the like. It's hard to say if there ever will be an Elite beater, at least for me. Perhaps I no longer have the mindset to suspend reality like I did nearly twenty years ago or perhaps, in terms of gameplay, Elite was really years ahead of its time.
Hmm, unlike the title of this review suggests, Freelancer is not in fact a weird RPG (probably from Japan) where you have to go around freeing all the poor captive lances from captivity as jousting tools. No, it is, in fact, a highly entertaining, highly polished space game, published by (whisper it; or you'll faint) Microsoft. As the game title does suggest, you are a freelance pilot, taking missions from the numerous guilds and factions that populate the game. But before I go on to describe the gameplay, I have to mention the surprisingly entertaining storyline. You are Edison Trent (no, really, if you check your passport details, you'll see they've been changed) a freelancer from Planet Leeds, in the Bretonian system. You left Leeds a few months back and tried to make your fortune in the border worlds of the Sirius Sector, but, before you finalise a deal that would make you rich (Rich, RICH!) the station you are on gets obliterated by an unknown...something; for an unknown reason (the plot thickens...). You and a few other survivors find yourselves on Planet Manhattan in Liberty space after the disaster, with it plastered all over the news. Here is where you take over. You have a whole galaxy to explore, so go out and take it! Well, no, not quite. To even get out of the New York system, you will have to follow the storyline, and believe me it's worth it, not for the opportunity, but for the story itself - quite frankly it is quite superb. But enough of that, you've heard the back-story, you want more; you 'go buy' the game. Now unlike most space and flight games, you do not use a joystick; instead you have complete control over your craft using the mouse and a few keyboard hotkeys. Not only does this sound stupid to start with; it all works extremely well, and is far more accessible and fun than using a clunky joystick that takes up half your desk space. So, besides the story, what
is there to do? Well, when you finish the storyline, or in the spaces between the missions, you can explore the vast Freelancer universe; 40+ star systems, hundreds of places to dock or land, and all of them full of glorious eye candy. But, away from the graphics, and back to the gameplay. To travel between systems in Freelancer you use 'Jumpholes' or 'Jumpgates' that instantaneously transport you to different systems, accompanied by a nifty 'wormhole' type of effect. Within systems, you travel using 'tradelanes' which are like huge hyper accelerators through local space, but are also ideal for pirates to ambush you in when they go through remote asteroid fields. Which means when they disrupt the tradelane you have to judge whether to stand and fight, or leg it to the nearest tradelane ring. Of course, the remoter systems don't have tradelanes, which then leaves you reliant on your cruise engines, and a lot of luck. As well as exploring - which can be surprisingly entertaining, discovering new planets, stations and commodities; you can take missions from job boards in the bars of planets and stations, or from the various Nap's scatted about (there's over 2000 of them in the game). These missions can range from destroying a few enemy ships, through tractoring in information to blowing up whole space stations. Obviously, eventually after the storyline, the random missions start to wear thin. But Thou Shalt Not Despair! There is a relatively large modding community out there (for starters try www.lancersreactor.com) which can extensively change your game experience. Fancy playing Star Wars? No problem! Want an ultra powerful weapon that costs $1 and fits on the worst ship? You got it! Need a few extra credits? Okay! Want a new uniform? Here you go! Want some friends? Err, sorry...can't help you... Well, on the subject of friends, we shall go forth unto the breach of multiplayer mode. First of all, t
here are a huge selection of servers to choose from, you'll never be left twiddling your thumbs - and many of these can support huge amounts of players; I'm sure I've seen 124+ slot servers, some with their own dedicated fan base, and some running mods to heighten the experience. Multiplayer is basically the single player game with the storyline removed, you gain your way up by trading, and doing random missions. But, undoubtedly, to some people, the appeal of PvP combat is what draws them here, and especially on servers with PvP tournament mods, kicking the s(stuffing)t out of a fellow human in space has never been so much fun! Unless they're lagging in which case it becomes a chore. To the graphics, which I briefly mentioned earlier. Despite the rate PC Games graphics have been advancing just over the past few months, Freelancer is simply beautiful. Stations, planets, ships, all look great from afar, and don't fall apart when you're nose to nose. Each House has it's own style, for example; even with for all the polluted planets of bretonia, the Bretonian ships look very...well...organic. The one annoyance is there seem to be relatively few, -compared to ship models- station models, with many being exact repeats of others with a few alterations, or a slightly different style. But there are some unique stations in the game. The Ring springs to mind; which is...um...a ring. Sound...well technically, we're in a vacuum here, so while you're flying about you shouldn't be hearing anything, because sound needs a medium...etc. etc. But anyway, the sounds themselves are generally very well done, with perhaps a few weak explosion sfx. The constant radio chatter from different ships and stations add a pleasing sense of life to the universe. As well as for ambiance; the radio can also be very handy in telling you when you're about to be attacked before the enemy ships come on the radar; as you'll hear something
like 'Engaging Freelancer Alpha 1-1'. Very swish. Any complaints? Well, obviously as I have pointed out, after a while the random missions get repetitive; the fact that you can only reach level 38 in an un-modded game means pretty quickly after finishing the storyline you have nothing much left to aim at. A gripe that at first seems minor, but quickly becomes the most annoying - when you've played for a while and have seriously annoyed some factions (and believe me you will) constantly getting ambushed by them every 30 seconds gets tiring. They are the only complaints I can think of :) All in all, a highly polished, great fun, and superb example of a space game, with a few annoyances that stop it on the borders of being a true classic; even so, you'll find yourself drawn back time and time again.
*****Why I Buy***** Once upon a time in space there came a product that revolutionised the gaming industry, a game set in space, a game they called Elite. Some of you may remember it, some of you may have heard of it, some of you may have played it and loved it, lost countless hours in pursuit of the next ranking; dangerous, deadly, ELITE! – For those that do remember it, and it may be those slightly older than 16, you’ll also probably be aware that for several years the gaming world waited with baited breath for a suitably adequate sequel, whilst a second and third version were released they had massive faults and never really lived up to the potential that the first had. The fourth instalment has been in design for as long as I can remember but has yet to materialise, now I understand this is going off at a ramble but I’m going to pull it all in right now. Fortunately, for those still waiting for that elusive Elite 4, Freelancer has come along and filled the void that the Elite franchise has yet to fill. Okay, I’ve been talking like you know what Elite was, but you don’t do you? Poor youth bought up on a diet of Gran Turismo that you are. Elite was different because it provided the opportunity for open ended gaming, set in space you controlled a ship and the overall intention was to earn money through the means at your disposal. This money could be used to trade in for ships and weapons to aid you further in your quest. Freelancer does this very same thing but it has a different story line and its taking up a lot more than the 32kb of RAM that Elite did! *****Why You Buy?***** Freelancer takes us into a setting far in to the future. A bitter war on Earth meant that the losing group sent colonists out into the void to colonise other areas. Four vessels that represent different sections of humanity flew off to the Sirius System. Recognition is instantaneous as
the different factions stamp their own mark on the buildings and surroundings, American, Japanese, German and British not to mention the personalities of the folk that you are likely to encounter. However despite having come from the same place the different sections are guarded from one another, and between systems the frontier has already descended into anarchy where pirates, bounty hunters and freelancers roam! (Paying a little attention during the installation will provide you with background on the different races, but isn’t essential to the game.) The game opens with a rather glorious movie that sets the standard for further story developments, you’ll also meet your character, Trent who we find has lost all his money and belongings due to an attack on the space station he is docked at. We are led further into the story as he meets Jun’ko Zane, who hire’s your man and provides you with your very own ship, as the story develops you become entrenched in a huge conspiracy and it is from this point we are largely either on our own or immersed in the continuing storyline. The single player campaign is something of a strange affair, your profile develops as your play, with key notes being your rating, which is based upon your aggregate wealth (credits, ship and stock worth) and alongside this your reputation-“o-meter” provides insight into who is or isn’t your friend amongst the police forces, factions, companies and pirates that operate in the space you know. This reputation shifts on the basis of the jobs you take and the actions you perform. In theory you have the opportunity to follow one of many career paths, you can be a trader, pirate, miner or bounty hunter. Each path will mean that a different group are going to find you more favourable. However during the campaign the theory isn’t so true so while you may exist in a huge universe with massive options in reality your options are limi
ted. Unfortunately due to the nature of the plot at times you may find yourself limited to certain areas, meaning that the best trade lanes or planets are inaccessible. This is going to limit the spirit of capitalism and may leave you feeling frustrated. It certainly did me when upon finding a great trade lane I found the planet I needed to dock with wasn’t going to allow me to land, and sent several police fighters out to usher me on my way with a hail of gunfire. Not nice. Such blocking of trade routes also means you are going to experience similar issues with the purchase of ships and arms, but this will provide incentive to keep playing after the missions are complete. The campaign itself takes place over 13 missions. For the most part these missions are broken down further into subparts meaning that each mission can take well over an hour or two to complete, on the whole the missions don’t provide a huge range of variety, largely centring on your getting from one place to the next without becoming dead on route. Missions become available based on your rating, so there are breaks in the plot where you are forced to provide for yourself, and it is here that you largely get the opportunity to see what the world has to offer. When docked on a station or planet the world is shown to you in glorious 3d, ships fly by and people idle about all very reminiscent of The Fifth Element or Blade Runner (What futuristic worlds aren’t!) Access to the various people you may want to speak to is provided by a button bar that will show you who is about, be it the Bar, Goods Merchant, Weapons or Ship seller. For the most part early on you’ll probably want to access the bar where you will be able to pick up jobs from a variety of sources. You will be able to glean useful information from the people there, or maybe even pay a bribe to increase your reputation with a faction who isn’t currently joyous about your existence. As you might e
xpect the early jobs don’t pay big money, but then they don’t present a huge risk either. Largely you’ll be employed by the local constabulary to clear the area of pirates, by decimating their ships, storage yards or hunting down and assassinating one of the leaders. It is quite important that you properly equip your ship, and as may be expected the range of products available to you is limited by two factors; firstly your level and secondly the level of your ship. Certain lasers and missiles won’t become available until you have reached a certain stage in the game, and then unless you have bought a suitable ship you may not be able to mount the weapons on board. Extra strength shields and thrusters provide additional protection and layers to your overall kit. From here you may launch upon your mission, your map of the system will show you the way points that you’ll need to follow to get you to your destination. You’ll enter into the big world and experience the curious method of transportation. Now space is big, particularly the Freelancer part of space so travel is going to be something you are doing a lot of, fortunately the colonists have built massive docking rings that transport you to different sections of the system at an increased rate, bigger rings will take you between systems and if all else fails you can activate your cruise engines to coast at a steady 300 er… somethings! Free flight (outside of the rings) will be anything from 80 to 200 (of the somethings) 120 being provided limited boost from your thrusters (better thrusters provide better times and quicker recharge rates). Outside of the realms of missions an extremely comprehensive system map is presented to you, allowing for various filters and such there are two main settings universe and system, clicking universe will allow you to choose the system you want to fly to and having selected the system you can choose the panel. Quickest known way-po
ints are rapidly generated and you are rapidly on your way. As you close in on the objective of your mission you’ll need to fight. Control, curiously, is all mouse. Well I say all mouse, you’ll also need the keyboard for some functions but largely the mouse. This was somewhat surprising at first; however the experience is remarkably intuitive. Firing upon enemy vessels is controlled by pressing the right mouse button and direction controlled by depressing the left. A cursor indicates the line of fire and the smart HUD display indicates where you need to fire in order to damage your target. The cursor is also employed outside of the combat arena to allow access to the various menus and weapons that you have, in effect you could remove the need for the keyboard at all, but at what cost? Unfortunately at the cost of controlling your ship! Movement, firing and selecting missiles to counter measures requires you to move the cursor from the screen and release the left mouse button so you can engage it again on the service you require. On the whole this might not present a problem, but in the heat of battle, and it does get quite hot sometimes, the last thing you want to worry about is dropping a flare to counter a missile at the risk of being blasted because you can’t manoeuvre out of the line of laser fire. Still that’s what the keyboard is for isn’t it and after all you’ll still need to use the keyboard for thrust if nothing else! Of the plot I have one more gripe, whilst it is necessary to occasionally go away and amass wealth, once that target is achieved and the story kicks back in it does so with a strange sense of urgency that may quickly find you making a rendezvous that sees you back in battle with foes that massively outclass your level. Quite early on I had reached a stage where my ship had been adequately handing all the pirate missions, but I was thrust into a scenario where I was simply outclasse
d by the ships and weaponry of the CPU, I actually had to resort to cheating to get through an extremely difficult stage. For the most part the plot also gives you the opportunity to decline going further, but occasionally it doesn’t and you may be getting ahead of yourself simply by launching from the wrong place. The system is as mentioned earlier quite huge. It ranges across four main areas, each area having around 10 different systems, each system having a range of planets, battleships and space stations that you can dock at to trade, pick up jobs, upgrade or buy new ships and weaponry. Only when docked can you perform saves that may save you half an hour of your life, particularly on some of the longer trade routes. Docking also mean that information relating to that station is downloaded into your “neural net” making future trading more accessible as market prices don’t appear to fluctuate too heavily. The different zones, alongside different architecture, also provide different types of ship. There are four main classes, light, heavy and ultra heavy fighters and freighters, providing you with the means to pursue the career of choice. Within the categories each zone provides a unique styling to the ships you’ll be able to buy from the slim line Piranha to the behemothic Humpback. As well as providing some wonderful (if not rather outdated) stereotypical personalities (what about those Rhine-landers, who could they possibly be like?!). Freelancer, perhaps, wouldn’t be complete with out one or two secrets in its vast space. Hidden wormholes can act as great shortcuts across galaxy cutting trade routes in half. For the hardy and adventurous there are wrecks that can be further decimated to relieve them of their even rarer prizes, cargo, weapons and moneys. Perhaps I’m easy to please but I was impressed with the graphics, with all the settings turned up to their fullest space becomes q
uite pretty. Like a graphically enhanced episode of Star Trek you may encounter auroras, plasma clouds, asteroid fields, planets atmospheres and rings like Saturn, lens flare from nearby stars occasionally flickers across your cockpit. Textures all look convincing and people look like people with suitably impressive animations. The game maintains a wonderful uniformity with few glitches to angry up the blood. One doesn’t need to work hard to suspend disbelief. Online play is available. You’ll find that your game has its own unique ID meaning that you can play online at one of the many servers. Game play is very similar but cuts out the storyline leaving you to earn money and explore the universe at your own pace. The online world provides that added element of other human characters and rules generally apply to different zones outlining what you can expect, for example if you are a pirate you must clearly display your colours in your name tag and there are certain zones that are out of bounds. This allows for those wishing to develop in relative safety (only having to deal with the largely inefficient computer controlled pirates) the time and space to do so. In space you can trade with others for their spare or rare weapons. You may be a trader needing to hire the protection service of a hired fighter; those freighters don’t make for great fighting too! The people I have encountered have largely been friendly and willing to help a newbie. On the downside this really is one for the lucky broadbanders, playing across a modem just doesn’t do you any favours. When it lags you find yourself suddenly stuck waiting for an immensely important gate to open with banditos running you down all guns blazing. I’m guessing that your connection to the server is connected to your location at the time. Should you become disconnected you’ll usually find yourself where you left off. Should you die you are reincarnated intact, but m
issing your stock, so if trading is your game this does present some real fiscal issues. As for combat with real live people, well I haven’t got that far yet. Three hours of real time play has got me to level 21, the average is around 35 and I hate to imagine what those guys are driving! Sound and music also provide a suitably immersive experience. I keep my music turned off as it just provides extra noise that I don’t need. A few years driving a car with no stereo means I can quite happily drift along without the need for stirring renditions emitting from my speakers. But that’s okay because space isn’t quiet; your radio almost constantly emits banter from the ships and crews that occupy the space around you. The police, pirates, escorts and convoys forever converse. As well as being nicely presented graphically the plot-line cut scenes are also well presented aurally with decent voice acting! *****Conclusion***** Without a doubt Freelancer provides a great gaming experience. Essentially it is just another shoot ‘em up, but with the diversity of career choices and ways of earning money it provides adequate depth to inspire desire to play. The artificial intelligence to be found within the game does make you forget that you’re playing a simulation, with crafts and crews occupying space around you, flying about their business and occupying the gates which you might like to use. In short, life goes on. Police will fly to your rescue should you happen to be attacked near their space and you may quickly become the enemy of the law. While the story line might not be particularly original (alien artefacts anyone) it does provide a convincing enough vehicle for your progression through the early ranks. It all ends with plenty left to do, systems that you won’t yet have seen and wrecks and relics to hunt down. Ships that you’ll want to purchase and weaponry that you’
;ll want to mount upon your turrets. Coupled with the ongoing opportunity for online gaming this could see itself as one of those you’ll want to come back to just to see if there is anything you’ve missed or another foe that can be obliterated from the skies. Graphics - 9.0 Sound - 9.0 Storyline - 8.7 Replayabilty - 9.0 Overall - 8.9 £27.99 on Play & Amazon!
As the title suggests, I like this game. Freelance is a game which absorbs you into its story line and makes you always play, "just for five more minutes" until the sun comes up. First of all the negatives. Graphics- These are nothing special. Though realistic and satisfactory enough, the repetitive backgrounds and characters do let the game down slightly. I have yet to experience any slow-down though, even in large action sequences. Game play- Many aspects of the game play are repetitive. On some missions you will find yourself flying on autopilot for long periods of time with out a great deal happening. Many missions are also repetitive, mostly following a "go here, kill them" theme. The positives: Controls- The mouse-keyboard control interface becomes natural after only a few moments. The intuitive keyboard controls allow you to fully concentrate on blowing up that last Liberty rogue ship. Story line- While the scripted missions are few and far between, they are actually very good. With a fairly believable story and good character development. I would tell you more, but I don't want to spoil it for those of you who haven't played it. The Freelancer universe- WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's HUGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will take you days and days to fully explore this universe. With hidden bases and jump holes, new races and planets you will never get bored. Everything is named after existing earth cities and places, e.g. New Berlin. While this feels awkward at first it soon becomes useful as you try to remember whether the best price for consumer goods was in Honshu or New London, or was it planet Manhattan? The sheer size of this galaxy more than makes up for the sub-par graphics and greatly adds to the feeling that you really are there. Game play- You can be a pirate, trader, police enforcer, miner, anything you c
an think of it is possible to do. This variety coupled with the huge galaxy guarantee a high replay value. If you get bored, just go online. The online game play is great. The ability to team up with other players to take on bigger, more profitable missions adds a different dimension to the game. Last night I teamed up with an American and an Australian and spent 2 hrs terrorising the trade lanes. Magic! All in all I would highly recommend this game to anyone. It is enjoyable for hours and hours with the online game play really adding to the game environment. Try this game and you won?t be disappointed.
Ah it's finally here. Freelancer has been in production for years, around the same time as 'Starlancer' was produced. 'Starlancer' was essentially a futuristic world war in space. One side won, the other side was on the brink of destruction. They had several colony ships, sent them on an 800 year journey and this is where Freelancer takes place. I don't want to spoil any of the fantastic story line. Needless to say you are a 'Freelancer' making a living, doing jobs etc. The game is far more than this though. The key deciding factor for this game is the narrative. The story behind the game and indeed personalisation of characters to the player is truly amazing. Cutscenes use the games engine (which is no bad thing) and the constant involvement for the player is great. When I finished playing the game i was left with a sense of emptiness, (like seeing a really good film). This really shows just how good the game is. The graphics are pretty good, and i never found my pc slowing down, even when the massive space battles took place. The sound is great, different sectors have different nationalities and the voices show this. Music changes when you enter battle and weapons firing really get the adrenaline pumping. While the mouse only interface came under some suspicion when it was announced, it has proved a total success and after 5 minutes i was asking myself why i need a joystick at all. Gameplay is top notch in the single player game and you aren't forced to follow the storyline. You can trade goods, kill criminals for cash, raid convoys, anything you want basically. Your repution with different factions is dynamic and you can actually become an outlaw! My total play time before completing the game was 24 hours. That's a whole day of total ecstasy. Not once was i bored. After you have completed the game you can continue playing in the universe, taking on mission, been a pirate etc; alt
hough online play is more promising. Which brings me to the crunch. Currently multiplayer is a disappointment. If Microsoft issue patches to fix it, many pay-monthly space games such as 'Earth and Beyond' could be in trouble. At the moment though they are safe. The multiplayer is a constant lag-fest with any large servers (32 players or more), but shows alot of promise. Overall then Freelancer is one of the best games currently on the market and i am pleased to recommended it to readers. Happy flying!
Freelancer combines a fully-immersive 3D space-flight system with real-time 3D character interaction to give the player complete control over buying and selling commodities, accepting missions for hire, and customizing his spacecraft / Developed by Digital Anvil, Freelancer is scheduled to hit store shelves early 2001.