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Free Realms: Free Realms Review

StraddenStradden Managing EditorHalifax, NSPosts: 6,696Member

MMORPG.com contributor Sanya Weathers writes this in-depth review of Sony Online Entertainment's latest release: Free Realms.

Writing the first impressions article was easy. Writing this review was hard.

For one thing, I'm really not sure how I feel about the game. It's an MMO in which I have not spoken with a single human being in the month I've been playing. It's a virtual world where there is absolutely no danger, either from monsters, other people, or even falling damage. It is a pool with no depth that I keep getting sucked into. It's done in a cartoony style (not something I've ever enjoyed) done so beautifully that it ends up looking more real than real life in an inexplicable way.

Read the Free Realms Review

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

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Comments

  • kingdave2006kingdave2006 Portland, ORPosts: 30Member

    I liked Free Realms but I could not tolerate the constant downloads, if you are on anything less than a very fast DSL/Cable connection be ready to stare at the message "Downloading 1mb of 10.5mb" every time you get to a new area or a portion of the map you have yet to approach, you freeze in place usually until enough data is buffered. I began to dread runing anywhere near the black chunks of my map. If they had an actual client I could download instead of the streaming system I would still be playing the game. I searched all over the options and settings for an option to download the files continously instead of on demand but I gave up. I liked the game but the streaming data system drove me and my DSL connection back to games that have a downloadable client.

  • SanyaSanya Director of Community Undead Labs Fairfax, VAPosts: 44Member

    Oof. I guess I should have mentioned I game off a Fios connection, and so I never noticed any problems.

    Though I did play at two different airports without pain - maybe because I tended to play minigames? I did quest, but mostly in one area.

    Sanya M. Weathers
    Director of Community
    Undead Labs

  • todeswulftodeswulf Dallas, TXPosts: 715Member








    Awesome review Sanya...this game is my daughters (who is Eight) and my game dujour..I missed a Ulduar raid last night because we were working on our Ninja Careers...My EQ 2 guild is pretty much decimated ..everyone went to FreeRealms, honestly if the rumors are true and SOE is building EQ3 on the FR model....then Blizzard has a lot to be concerned over....heck I think Blizzard has a lot to be concerned over FreeRealms itself.

    I'd love to stay and talk further but I just found the Medic trainer.

  • BobWhittakerBobWhittaker Austin, TXPosts: 4Member

    Thanks for the wonderful review Sanya! It really brings the game to life and makes me want to give it an immediate try. 

    I've really missed the way your wonderful flair for writing livened up the Herald, so it's been a real treat to read you columns, and this review, here at mmorpg.com. 

    Thanks again - I'm off to give Free Realms a go and I'll be anxious to compare notes.

     

     

  • FinbarFinbar Peterborough, ONPosts: 193Member

    Sanya Weathers you write well. Thats a first here on www.mmorpg.com. Most often the writing here is sub-par and very often hands down misinformed. You do what you do well. Keep it up and hopefully someday you can replace certain other writers.

    FINBAR
    -------------------------------------------

  • sn0wblind00sn0wblind00 Montreal, QCPosts: 381Member Common

    Tried it out just for the racing aspects.  The game has a nice flow to it, and has fun career paths, but I found it hard to compete against actual people.  A lot of the racing events you are just playing against npc's, as it is quite empty.  And if your any good, you should win every time.  Also, though I haven't played for a week, I noticed you couldn't level up racing career paths which was dissappointing. 

    Anyways, a younger age group shouldn't notice the above and will probably enjoy it.  I would love to hop on and play once in a while if they gave me more of a reason to.  Hopefully they release more content in patches.

  • UmbroodUmbrood gbgPosts: 1,847Member Uncommon

    Wonderful review, regardless of what one may think of the game it was well written and very enjoyable, thank you.

    I am actually a subscriber, 5 dollars a month is well worth it even if you, like me, spend only an hour a week in the game.

    Still play my other MMO's though, and pretty hardcore at that, but as said, this is not an MMO in that sense.

    Its more like an hour of "me time" now and again, in a beatiful and fun world.

    Never grouped, ( well once when I was checking if there was a "inspect" function and accidentally invited someone ), barely talked to anyone, because honestly at 34 I could probably be the father of most of the players, not much in common so to speak.

    Like an hour of therapy each week, for a measly 1.20, ( divided ), one could do far worse.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Originally posted by Jerek_

    I wonder if you honestly even believe what you type, or if you live in a made up world of facts.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  • rsrestonrsreston BerlinPosts: 346Member Uncommon

    Loved the "short version"'s - I'll definitely give it a try when I have a break between a hardcore MMOG and the next. Cheers!

    image

  • Rath444Rath444 Dayton, KYPosts: 35Member

    At the risk of being redundant, I too would like to thank you for the review.  Very nice!

    Am I alone at being a bit put off by the fact that you can max out on levels in a matter of a few days?

    On a positive note, my 9 year old daughter absolutely adores this game. 

    So there you have it.  Daughter 1.....Dad 0. 

    *peeks over his shoulder as little hands reach into his wallet for the credit card*

  • YamotaYamota LondonPosts: 6,620Member

    Is this some kind of a joke? The "reviewer" (and I use that therm loosely) admits that he/she hasn't spoken to anyone in a month and that it is not an MMO yet it gets this high score for something that is obviously a childs game and not even an MMO on a site called MMORPG.COM?

    MMORPG.COM really needs to get some professional reviewers that got the guts to slash games like this and Darkfall that are crappy MMOS (or not MMOS at all) instead of worrying about giving bad grades and lose some ad income. Otherwise it will never be taken seriously as a review site.

  • BhagpussBhagpuss BathPosts: 58Member

    Excellent review, Sanya.

    The only thing I'd quibble with, and it applies to all the reviews I've seen, not just this one, is that no-one seems to be looking ahead much. Free Realms has only been out for, what, a couple of months. It has, by all accounts, a massive development team and SoE seem to be betting the farm on it.

    What's most interesting to me is not what Free Realms is today, but what it could be in a year. They've announced housing for the Fall and the introduction of the Soccer job, but other than that there seems to be very little leaking out on where this title is headed. It's certainly not an MMORPG now (although it certainly is an MMOG), but there's no reason it couldn't, in time, incorporate a whole slew of gamestyles. As you say, it doesn't need to be balanced, so they can pretty much add anything.

    I've not logged in for a while but reading this just decided how I'm going to spend some of my free Friday. I just need to avoid the Checkers tables (you didn't even mention those!) or I'll never get anything else done.

  • BaffaBaffa BorasPosts: 37Member

    This game is not a MMO, it's even featured at miniclip.com.

  • OrphesOrphes TrePosts: 3,048Member
    Originally posted by Yamota


    Is this some kind of a joke? The "reviewer" (and I use that therm loosely) admits that he/she hasn't spoken to anyone in a month and that it is not an MMO yet it gets this high score for something that is obviously a childs game and not even an MMO on a site called MMORPG.COM?
    MMORPG.COM really needs to get some professional reviewers that got the guts to slash games like this and Darkfall that are crappy MMOS (or not MMOS at all) instead of worrying about giving bad grades and lose some ad income. Otherwise it will never be taken seriously as a review site.

     

    Is it not  a Massively Multiplayer Online game?

    In what sense did the reviewer use that part with saying it's not a MMO?

    Are your trying to say that if a reviewer don't slah games that you find bad then they are not professional. I mean I like this and that game and some have had bad reviews and some games that I don't lika have had god reviews.

    To make a review bad (or good) for the sake of it, makes it to look pretty unserious.

    I'm so broke. I can't even pay attention.
    "You have the right not to be killed"

  • SanyaSanya Director of Community Undead Labs Fairfax, VAPosts: 44Member

    This game is not an MMO in the traditional sense of the word. If I had been grading it as one, I'd have given it a lousy score for having no discernable community building, no sense of persistence, and no balance... all things I mentioned in the review.

    But the game isn't trying to be a traditional MMO. It's trying to be its own unholy mixture of an MMO, Club Penguin, MSN Game Zone, Pogo, and more. And it succeeds very well at those things.

    Saying it fails at being WOW or EVE is like looking at a beagle and saying, "You don't purr, you don't climb trees, and you are totally unaffected by catnip! You are a failure at being a cat!"

    I wanted to make the review a full look at the game, so anyone booting it up would know exactly what they were getting into.

    Thanks for all the pretty words, guys :)

    Sanya M. Weathers
    Director of Community
    Undead Labs

  • tanoriltanoril Cary, NCPosts: 432Member

    I thought the review was spot on.  She's right, it's not really an MMO in the traditional sense and one has to wonder if you can properly rate this game (especially on this site) since it doesn't really have the criteria for an MMO, other than there are other people in the world (which to be honest, could just as well not be there since you hardly ever talk to anyone).  If you judge it for what it is, basically a collection of mini games set in a virtual world, then it does that very well.  I think the fact there is no client appeals directly to those that would be into this type of game (the Pogo crowd). 

    There's many ways to improve it but I don't think they should change it to appeal to the MMO crowd (if that makes sense) since that's not really the point of Free Realms.  They could take the card game a step further and incorporate things like tournaments, make it more competitive like 'Magic' but they may not be wanting to attract that kind of player.  The game is obviously aimed at younger people and I think it's a great way for parents to play with their kids. 

    One thing that isn't mentioned in the review is how Sony continues to dangle the carrot in front of you to subscribe while your ingame.  Anywhere you go you constantly see these quests that have a symbol around them which means they are for subscribers only.  They intermingle these npc's with the free ones.  This is marketing genius, since the average 10-14 year old sees this, wonders why he/she can't take the quest, notices the nice bright 'upgrade' icon in the bottom right, and goes to mom/dad to unlock with $5. 

  • metalcoremetalcore DerbyPosts: 798Member

    Free realms is okay, I found even a couple of hours a week I got bored real quick.

    Is it a MMORPG? Yes but only just, it could easily not be.

    Is it fun? For me initially yes, got old very quick.

    I don't play it anymore but I am sure it will appeal to the mass market.

    Now playing: VG (after a long break from MMORPGS)
    Played for more than a month: Darkfall online, Vanguard SOH, Everquest, Horizons, WoW, SWG, Everquest II, Eve

  • FumblesFumbles Cape Coral, FLPosts: 88Member

    It boggles the mind that people think that this is not an MMO... Traditional? no but MMO none the less.

    Massively Multiplayer Online is exactly what it is.

    Able to support a large number of players on each server? Yes - also, players are not locked into a set server.

    Players able interact with each other and form groups? Yes - Forced grouping however is not a MMO requirement.

    Must be online to play? Yes

    Character development? Yes

     

  • PaksPaks No Where, OHPosts: 263Member

    Great review.  I haven't subscribed as a full member to this game (YET!) but I like playing it just for the little mini-games.  There's just disgustingly addictive!

     

    I had a chance to experience their chat once and found it to be a tad annoying so I ignore it now.  If I want 5 year old barrens chat with a filter I'll go back to WoW or AoC!

  • qbangy32qbangy32 GT YarmouthPosts: 681Member

    An excellent review of Free Realms.

    My 7yr old daughter and her friends are enjoying the game immensly, and I've had a go once or twice but still prefer my quota of grown up MMO's.

    If SoE has any sense they should definately expand on Free Realms and try to capture a more mature audience with a new MMO, would be a shock to most if the 3 million subs for Free Realms could be transposed onto a Adult SoE MMO in the future.

     

  • Rommie10-284Rommie10-284 Systems CommonwealthPosts: 240Member Uncommon

    It's a nice review, and mostly mirrors my experience with FR.

    I will say that there's one impression of Free Realms that I've had that you didn't mention - that the game is a game-sized testbed.  Sometimes I just get the vibe that this is Sony's trial run of their planned RMT games as much as an effort at a self-contained game.  It feels somewhat like a Beta, not of content, but mechanics and "style" for future games. 

    Edited for grade-school typos - bleh

    Avatars are people too

  • todeswulftodeswulf Dallas, TXPosts: 715Member
    Originally posted by Sanya



    Saying it fails at being WOW or EVE is like looking at a beagle and saying, "You don't purr, you don't climb trees, and you are totally unaffected by catnip! You are a failure at being a cat!"

     

    God this is sig worthy!

  • rysukenrysuken las vegas, NVPosts: 2Member

    Thank you for the review. I agree with all of it to. I went in to this expecting some type of cheap clone, but was actually really suprised at how "fun" the game is. It will not appease hard-core gamers but if you are looking for something diffrent and stress free then it does it's job very well.

  • ReklawReklaw Am.Posts: 6,478Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by kingdave2006


    I liked Free Realms but I could not tolerate the constant downloads, if you are on anything less than a very fast DSL/Cable connection be ready to stare at the message "Downloading 1mb of 10.5mb" every time you get to a new area or a portion of the map you have yet to approach, you freeze in place usually until enough data is buffered. I began to dread runing anywhere near the black chunks of my map. If they had an actual client I could download instead of the streaming system I would still be playing the game. I searched all over the options and settings for an option to download the files continously instead of on demand but I gave up. I liked the game but the streaming data system drove me and my DSL connection back to games that have a downloadable client.



     

    Not trying to argue with you, but why would anyone that does not have a fast internet connection even bother to play online games?

    Anyway nice review, I did enjoy the game a little, but overall I personaly felt it might atract their target audience more then it atracts me. Overall it's a fun type of game.

  • mszvmszv not too far from Philadelphia, PAPosts: 41Member

    Some of us from another game are playing and enjoying Free Realms.  We want a place to socialize and have fun, and yes, we are all adults.  We are looking forward to the Guilds - we want a separate chat channel and, ideally, a guild hall. 

    That's what we are waiting for - that and the ability to add a friend to your friend list if the friend is not in game - not sure if that's fixed yet.  We like Free Realms for what it is, and think it will work very well for us.

    Regards,
    mszv

  • SnowdoniaSnowdonia CasinoPosts: 21Member

    While the review was fairly accurate and well done, there is one comment that is completely incorrect and probably deserves a correction or retractment.

    "which is ironic given that accessing the microtransaction stuff requires a membership"

    Sorry, but no. The Marketplace does NOT require you to be a member to partake in it. The TAB you were on, which is the first tab the Marketplace open up to, does indeed require membership, but only those items listed in that tab.

    If you look at the bottom of the Marketplace window (and it's shown in the full screenshot) there are 8 buttons (tabs) of catagories you can choose from that most of the items in them are membership free. Again, the only items that are member only are the ones listed in that first catagory. When looking at other catagories, those member only items get shuffled into them as well but everything else in the 7 other catagories, are for everyone.

     

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