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9  |  PC - Freelancer Review
pattonx , 4/4/2003 10:22:55 AM
I am 15 years old again.

At that tender age, Chris Roberts became the bane of my mother and father's existance - he released Wing Commander: Privateer, a game that, until now, was at the #1 slot on my top 10 list of "Best Games Ever Made".

With the release of Freelancer, Microsoft Games / Digital Anvil's 5-year project started by the legendary Chris Roberts (Wing Commander, Wing Commander 2, Privateer) has finally picked up the ball left waiting for it by Privateer and made good on the promise it boasted when it started: An open-ended universe where you could be whatever you wanted to be.

I am HOPELESSLY addicted.

If you have played Wing Commander: Privateer before, you have played Freelancer. The modus opperendi is exaclty the same: You have a ship bequeathed upon you that is little more than a flying Volkswagen Vanagon with a light pen strapped to the front, and it is your job to make it on your own. It's making it on your own that makes the open-ended part of the game so damn appealing: you can choose to be a merchant, mercenary, lane hacker, pirate, cop - the direction you take to achieve your means is completely up to you.

There is a single-player story that is actually very well written (the only down side to this story is that you, the main character, are voiced by Ian Ziering from 90210). It seems that as Trent, you were a footloose and fancy-free Freelancer, making the rounds and earning cash all over the galaxy until unknown attackers made short work of the base you were staying at, taking your ship with it. Now, you are solo and shipless without a penny to your name, a refugee in the Freeport system on Planet Manhattan. Thanks to a Freeport Militia officer named Juko Zane, you get your flying bucket of bolts and a little spare cash to get started.

The single-player campaign is approximately 40-50 hours worth of hair-rasing and very fun combat, as well as exploration across over 40 systems. The weapons systems and ship upgrades you obtain while playing are evenly-paced to match your combat level, so that you don't grow too quickly into a ship that utterly unbalances gameplay.

The multiplayer campaign lacks a central story, allowing for teamed or solo players to take jobs from the various job terminals around the systems and earn a little dough and xp so they can upgrade weapons, ships, shields, etc. and allows for up to 128 simultaneous players (although I sincerely doubt that many home users would be able to host something of that magnitude. I usually play with 12-16 others and the play is never choppy or lagged).

Ultimately, if you are a space / sci-fi fan with a penchant for cutting your teeth and making your own way how you see fit, you seriously can't go wrong with Freelancer.

Now, back to the killing!

If you fancy a game of Freelancer, let me know at PattonX@MentallyIncontinent.com!

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