Free Realms seems to be the blog topic of the week, so since I don’t want to be left out, I thought I’d toss out some cranky thoughts about it.
I played a bit in beta, and now I’ve played a bit in launch. I’m far from the intended audience so I don’t think a ‘review’ from me is really appropriate; it wasn’t designed to appeal to me. So these are more musings than anything.
First, I thought it was interesting that the much-hyped Tuesday launch didn’t happen for most of the US, and no one started spewing hatred and vitriol at Sony. I suppose the free client is a big part of why, but a lot of MMO Rage isn’t based on any kind of logic. Maybe the Rage-types just aren’t interested in the game anyway? It was just sorta nice to see that most people interested in the launch found it in their hearts to be understanding about the delay.
Second, I keep hearing the gathering mini-game as being like Bejeweled. OMG don’t you people play casual games? It isn’t like Bejeweled! In Bejeweled, you swap the positions of gems to connect 3 or more of the same color. In the crafting mini-game, you don’t move anything. You just mark connected gems of the same color, at which point they vanish. This game exists in the casual world but I’m an old man with a faulty memory and I don’t remember the name of it. But it ain’t Bejeweled! [Please note tongue firmly in cheek for this point.]
Third, the name still bugs me because it isn’t free to play. Sure, some of it is, but not all. And the $5/month subscription model still doesn’t get you everything; some items require an RMT. This includes Pets. And what’s the very first thing they introduce to you when you leave the tutorial area? Pets! That feels kind of sleazy to me, honestly.
Fourth, I wonder how many gamers will get frustrated by the tutorial because it is so slow moving. You can’t dismiss dialog boxes until the voice over completes. There’s a reason for this…the client is still downloading in the background so they *have* to slow you down in order to give that time to happen. Not being a paid subscriber I only have 1 character slot, so I don’t know if they change this in subsequent runs through the tutorial (or just let you skip the tutorial altogether).
I’m not sure I wouldn’t have pointed out that there’s a reason for the slow moving tutorial. I just worry that some people will get frustrated and leave before they ever start playing.
Fifth, just because a goblin-thingie wears a colander on his head as a helmet, it doesn’t mean he can’t kick your ass. Angela and I grouped up and tried a combat encounter mostly at random. We got *smoked*. I couldn’t see any way to judge the difficulty of the encounter (other than that we’d gone exploring and were a good ways from the starting location).
Sixth and last, Green Armadillo has a post up about points card for the game. Basically you get more for your money if you jump in your car and burn some fossil fuel to go to a retail store and buy a card which you can then throw into a landfill, rather than just downloading points. This sucks. Why not promise to kill a baby seal with every purchase, while you’re at it, Sony?
We didn’t play for long. First the server we were on crashed, then when we got into another server we spent a while trying to find each other, hoping we could ‘friend’ each other if we were in proximity, but we couldn’t. Long after we gave up trying we got a “Friend Server Down” message in the chat.
Angela wants to play more. I’m not as sure. Maybe. I’m kind of on the fence with regard to playing mini-games in a $5/month MMO for levels vs buying them for $5 or $10 on the XBox 360 and playing them for Gamerscore. The combat seems like pretty fun hack and slash casual gameplay, though, so I might give that a go. And just running around the world was actually kind of interesting, chasing bunnies and squirrels and stuff just for grins. So maybe. Maybe not. But again, I AM NOT THE INTENDED AUDIENCE so my playing or not playing isn’t really relevant to the success of the game.