Fresh doughnuts. Homemade fudge. An extra beer. Yet another
figurine for the collection. We all have our guilty pleasures, but
MMO gamers are about to acquire a new addiction when Sony Online
Entertainment releases href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/287"
Realms. SOEs collection of minigames is
delivered in a very kid-friendly package , and (most importantly) its
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 173px;" alt=""
The exterior is very kid-friendly, but
many adults will soon find Free Realms to be a
guilty pleasure for
I joined the closed beta for
style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms (FR)
over the weekend and was impressed early into the experience. Since it
is a browser-based game, the tiny plugin for FR takes just seconds to
download and install. The game downloads new content as you need it, so
you can jump in and play right away. From my experience, the download
happens seamlessly with only a little icon on your screen alerting you
to the fact that data is transferring. The opening tutorial instantly
got me into the fun of two different minigames: cooking and combat.
Cooking required me to first harvest ingredients and then to
prepare and cook them. Harvesting was a separate minigame that worked a
bit like Bejeweled.
Match three or more items in a row or column for as long as you can
draw a line through them. Each match puts some harvest in your
basket. After enough matches of one item, you get a full unit of the
item. Reach a certain number of units to win the minigame. Next, I had
to chop vegetable, tenderize and slice meat, and smash berries. I
stirred in the ingredients to make a stew. It was a fun way to harvest
combat minigame was only slightly less fun. Combat is real time with a
key press or click required for each attack. My one special attack was
a leg sweep, which has a longer cool down timer than the almost
instantaneous regular attack. My one gripe here was that I could not
find an option for auto attack. Yes, I wanted auto attack! Since even a
regular attack has a tiny cool down, its not possible to get more
attacks by clicking frantically. But it IS possible to be less than
100% efficient in timing your attacks by having to watch the icon and
time your clicks.
The great part about combat missions is that they help deliver
the story and conflict of FR, which revolves around the mischeivous
actions of such pesky critters as "robgoblins." First introduced as
part of the tutorial for how to walk, robgoblins are trouble-making
goblins that raid crops, torment pets, and steal items from the good
humans and fairies of FR. Early quests are very light-hearted and
pastoral in nature, but things get a bit mroe serious later on. Even
so, FR keeps it upbeat and adventurous at all time.
After the tutorial, I made my way to the starter area called
Sanctuary where everyone was friendly and had a quest for me. There was
so much to do that it almost became overwhelming. I learned to train,
bathe, and feed pets. I had a chance to ride karts in a race. Some
citizens needed to put my skills as a Brawler to work in combat. One
original quest spruced up the tired postman delivery concept weve
all played millions times by making it an actual postman delivery.
Literally, I turned into a mail man and delivered letters! It sounds
dorky (okay, it is dorky), but it was fun.
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 173px;" alt=""
requires a lot of clicks. You could be chopping on this tree for a long
My only real complaint in Sanctuary was that there were almost
too many options too soon. I felt a bit like I was going straight from
taking the training wheels off of my bike to the Tour de France. I had
wanted to concentrate on cooking and build up my chef levels. Once I
had done a basic quest in Sanctuary, I needed only to roam to the next
town. Nothing in the game was stopping me; it was years of training by
other games to wipe out all of the quests in one area before moving on
that had me paralyzed. Still, the paralysis was real and is something I
think other type A personality gamers will find creates conflict for
Since the product I played was a beta, Ill do SOE the
courtesy of not highlighting the bugs I encountered. If the serious
ones remain in the client at launch, Ill blast them for it with due
diligence. For now, Id encourage anyone who can to try the title and
see just how free it makes you feel. I will add the caveats that I did
not try any of the premium content (some classes, quests and minigames
are for subscribers only) and that FR does what it can to make you
aware that you need to subscribe. Its not over the top puns like in
Dungeon Runners, but its blatantly obvious from the limit of one
character slot to the restriction of some classes. Without subscribing,
you will not get the full game. That doesnt mean you cant have fun.
For a MMO marketed as a great bridge to bring young players
into gaming, I think Free
Realms will have better hold among casual adult gamers and
women than with teens. I found the explosion of available quests in
Sanctuary disconcerting despite the fact that I am a reasonably
educated adult with a modicum of patience and maturity. I cannot
imagine trying to concentrate among all of those distractions as an
Along the rest of my play time over the weekend, I killed a
few minor bosses in quest instances, made some more advanced culinary
dishes, distracted vicious dogs while I delivered mail, and managed to
come in third in a kart race. I even discovered one addicting game that
was of the protect the fortress variety (Honey, Im home! was the
title). From start to finish, my experience was pure check your brain
fun. Id recommend Free
Realms to anybody who isnt solely a hard core raider. I
wont tell anyone how much fun it is to whirl around as you morph into
your chef clothes if you wont.
Have you tried Free
Realms? href="mailto:mailto:[email protected]">Email
your thoughts or post them href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=42503"
target="_blank">in our forums!
I've been so busy running
and testing Free Realms
that I have hardly played anything else. I'll wait until official
launch to make a final decision, but I am unsure I would ever move style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms off of
Ralsu's Watch List into the Top Ten because of the restricted content.
I am having a blast with the game and likely will even subscribe at
launch. I'll recommend people try the free version to decide whether or
not to buy it. Anyway, we'll see.
You'll see no changes to the lists from me this week. I
promise to get more done next week. In the meantime, what are style="font-style: italic;">you playing? Let us
know in href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=42503"
April 22, 2009
is a squad-based fantasy strategy game that breaks the mold. Players
can control up to nine characters at once in fast-paced turn-based
combat. A lot of the systems in Atlantica
are different from the standard fare on the market.
Ton Hammer Review
provides so many things to do that it earns its self-appointed moniker
of A Fantasy Life. Players can farm, play music, hunt, craft, go to
school and more in this fantasy land. In style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi, combat is
not the only way to advance.
( href="http://www.runesofmagic.com/">www.runesofmagic.com style="font-weight: bold;">)
Runes of Magic
is a traditional fantasy game that uses a Dual Class system to inject a
little strategy into character planning and a lot of flexibility into
grouping. RoM has all of the features gamers want in a
subscription-based game, but theyll enjoy them for free here.
of Magic Portal
(http://www.dungeonrunners.com style="font-weight: bold;">) NCSoft
is a hack and slash fantasy game that infuses every aspect of gameplay
with humor. DR makes fun of other games, the genre, and even itself.
This is the perfect game for a player looking to blow off steam after a
rough day at work.
is a horror-themed game that blends the traditional elements of MMOGs
with the visceral feel of a gore film. style="font-style: italic;">Requiem is worth a
look because of its fresh take on setting in MMOGs.
Aeria Games &
Dream of Mirror
Online puts the player in the starring role of a classic
Chinese myth. The eastern-based lore provides a refreshing twist on
MMOGs, and the multi-class system makes character development in this
fantasy game fun.
Megami Tensei: Imagine Online brings the popular RPG to
life in the MMOG sphere. Players can use friendly persuasion or
aggressive coercion to get demons to fight by their side. The dark
subject matter and modern setting of the game is a welcome contrast to
the enchanted glens filled with pixies we often find in MMOGs. style="font-weight: bold;">
( target="_blank">www.playrohan.com style="font-weight: bold;">) YNK Interactive
is a traidtional fantasy
MMOG with deep lore and nice graphics. The world features intense PvP,
gambling, and a few creative systems for managing gear. The level curve
steepens midway through the game while the story diminishes.
- target="_blank">Ten Ton Hammer Review
( target="_blank">www.exteel.com/us style="font-weight: bold;">) NCsoft
is a visceral PvP-centric game featuring mechs and beautifully designed
uses a lobby system to connect players, and people can upgrade their
mechs with resources found in game or purchased from the item mall.
( target="_blank">http://en.florensia-online.com style="font-weight: bold;">) Florensia Western Global
The peace in Florensia
is fragile and you need your friends as well as
strong allies to fight against sinister monsters on shore and at sea.
Train your skills, experience thrilling trips through the countryside,
load the cannons and hire a skilful crew to explore the ocean. Get
ready for Florensia! style="font-weight: bold;">
( target="_blank">www.freerealms.com style="font-weight: bold;">) Sony Online Entertainment
is a a 3D fantasy
world designed to encourage exploration and support casual play. With
graphics similar to WoW and all the gameplay of a standard MMOG, style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms could
appeal to adults. Its many minigames and events are designed to please
target="_blank">Free Realms Portal
- Preview (coming soon!)
MLB Dugout Heroes
brings arcade-like baseball action to the realm of
massively-multiplayer. Controls are simplified to make a smooth
experience on the PC. The official MLB licenses allows gamers to play
with real teams, players, and stadiums.
( target="_blank">http://neosteam.atlusonline.com style="font-weight: bold;">) Atlus Online
is a steampunk
game set in a world where warring factions compete for a limited supply
of the resource Neo Steam. It was above average in most categories
during closed beta for the US, but it had multiple translation
problems. Atlus Online should iron out the kinks.
( href="http://warriorepic.com/">http://warriorepic.com style="font-weight: bold;">)
Epic is ready to begin the next round of closed beta soon.
It provides a fantasy hack and slash dungeon crawler experience with
some very innovative features, including the ability to choose
different character classes for each dungeon and a Warrior Hall that
grows with the player.
KingsIsle Entertainment, Inc.
is an online, wizard school adventure with collectible card
magic, and wizard duels! The game allows players to
create a student wizard in an attempt to save Wizard City and explore
many different worlds. In Wizard101,
cards are magic spells. There are
Fire spells, Ice spells, spells of Myth, and much more. The game is
free to download. To access all of the areas, gamers will need to
target="_blank">Ten Ton Hammer Review
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Free Realms Game Page.