Microcosms: SOE Strikes Gold - A Free Realms Review

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Free-to-Play Games

of Jun 13 - Jun 19, 2010

1. Dungeons
and Dragons
Online: Eberron Unlimited

2. style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://us.runesofmagic.com/us/index.html">Runes
of Magic target="_blank">

href="http://everquest2.station.sony.com/"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://allods.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;">3.  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1303"
target="_blank">Atlantica Online

4.  href="http://atlantica.ndoorsgames.com/center/default.asp"
target="_blank"> href="http://www.freerealms.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/856"
target="_top"> href="http://www.freerealms.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://www.freerealms.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;">FreeRealms

5.  target="_blank">  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/856"
Chronicles of Spellborn

Perfect World International

 7.  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/581"
target="_top"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/856"
target="_top"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/581"
target="_top"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/181"
target="_blank">Sword of the New World

8. target="_blank">Aika href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/856"

9. target="_blank">Allods Online

10.  target="_top">Requiem: Bloodmayne href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/581"
target="_top"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2433"
target="_blank"> href="http://heroesofgaia.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://www.gamersfirst.com/swordofthenewworld/"

style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://www.freerealms.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://atlantica.ndoorsgames.com/center/default.asp"
target="_blank"> href="http://allods.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://us.runesofmagic.com/us/index.html"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://allods.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;">

The Ten Ton Hammer
team is finally
back from E3. Well, most of them are. As I write this our own
uber-editor, Benjamin
J. de la Durantaye, is stranded in the good old U.S. of A and pounding
out E3
articles on my couch as he awaits transport out of sunny California –
positive that no one goes to the lengths that the Hammer does to bring
you all
the latest gaming news. And what a week for news it was for MMOG fans,
especially those of us who enjoy our gaming with no purse strings
Black Prophecy
had a href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/events/e3/2010/black-prophecy-preview">strong
showing at E3 as did GamersFirst with some new reveals for
Sword 2.
folks at Nexon had plenty to show off as well (in addition to hosting
the event’s
best after party according to many in attendance). 
Even though the event is just a memory, you
should still check out href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/events/e3/2010/">all
of our articles as once again Ten Ton Hammer leads the way in
event coverage

In addition to playing as many
free-to-plays as my wife will
allow me the free time to explore each week, I rotate through a few
titles for fun or more likely just out of compulsive habit. One of the
titles that I returned to recently for a few hours of play time was
also the
first MMOG that really got its hooks into me, sure UO was interesting
and Meridian 59 had its upside, but
EverQuest took a hold of my
post college life in a way that no game before, or since, has been able
to.  While the
community in EQ is smaller
now, it isn’t unfriendly and multiple chat channels are readily
available to
link you to players on all servers. During one of these chat sessions
conversation inevitably turned to SOE and their perceived mistakes and
throughout the years, but when I offered up Free
as an indicator that they had not completely lost
their way,
everyone was in agreement.  But
does Free
make the grade as a free-to-play MMOG? Is it simply
a kid’s
game? Let’s
see how it fares when evaluated on graphics, gameplay and

If I had to describe, in clinical terms, what style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms was, it
look something like this:

Free Realms
is to MMOGs what the Wii is to gaming consoles - fun,
accessible and highly entertaining.  While many people
consider it a gateway game that leads younger gamers by the hand into
the world of MMOGs, Free
can also appeal to the seasoned or
jaded veteran. While not as hardcore of a game as most AAA titles,
there exists here so many different styles here that it would be nearly
impossible to find two players whose experiences are the same.


href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/85558"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 125px;"
alt="Free Realms"

Graphics that rival those of client based games.

The first caveat that most people are apprised of regarding style="font-style: italic;"> Free
Realms, is that it is a browser-based game. That usually
images of blocky low res avatars set against textures that look more at
home on an early 90’s console than in a thriving MMOG. Free Realms
defies that stereotype, however,with colorful 3D graphics that, while
not bleeding edge by any means, are highly stylized and give the game a
lot of personality.  Models are cartoon-like and the
environment is similarly styled. Textures are clean and shading and
shadows are well done.

The UI is, at first glance, a bit of a jumble, but this is a direct
result of the game having many different aspects. After a few minutes
of familiarization the UI reveals itself to be fairly straight forward
and intuitive. Due to the nature of the content delivery, UI
customization on a broad scale is pretty much out of the question in
Free Realms,
but as I stated earlier, it’s laid out well enough that
any annoyances with it disappear within a couple play

What impresses me the most about the graphics of style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms is how
seamlessly they blend from one section of the game to the next, from
racing mini-game to exploration to quest driven monster bashing
instances, it all flows together nicely and nothing seems out of place.


The heart of any game, and the question most often asked when I
describe a game to my friends is “so what’s the game play like?” In
Free Realms
the answer is a little more complicated than it is in most
traditional MMOGs, because here you can truly be whatever you want to
be. Crafting, cooking, pet collecting and fishing aren’t add-on skills
in Free Realms,
they can define how you play the game as much as
adventuring can. Players are never locked into one class or role; the
world is wide open and you are free to explore any of the multitudes of
jobs to your heart’s content.  Most of the non-combat aspects
of Free Realms
are mini-game driven (think Bejeweled and other super
addicting flash games instead of something droll and boring) which make
the process of skilling up fun and entertaining instead of a chore.

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/67238"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 160px;"
alt="Free Realms"

Combat is as fun as the rest of the game.

Combat here mimics other MMOGs with players using skills and powers to
defeat foes in mostly instanced scenarios that are usually the result
of accepting a quest. While there is a lack of harsh death penalty or
white knuckled battles that test a gamer’s skill, it really isn’t a
loss as that sort of experience wouldn’t fit with the overall theme and
feel of the game.  Anyone from the most hardcore gamer to
their 10 year old niece can find something to do in style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms, and
you don’t have to look hard or long to find it as everything is well
laid out and accessible.


href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/85561"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 175px;"
alt="Free Realms"

Items enchance, but dont dictate, game enjoyment.

SOE was one of the first major publishers to tackle microtransactions
in any sort of broad application with their introduction of Station
Cash, and Free Realms
was their first title to use it as the main
source of monetization. Players can elect to purchase a subscription
for around five dollars a month to unlock extra character slots and
subscriber only jobs, but you can easily enjoy the game without ever
spending a dime. For casual players I would recommend the
free option with microtransactions to supplement, but if you decide to
make Free Realms
a regular destination you can’t beat the subscription
plan.  Do expect to also spend some coin in the store, as some
very fun items pop up there.

You would be hard pressed to average more than 15 dollars a month, even
with a subscription plan added to sporadic purchases. For just over 15
dollars a player could buy a mount, a house, a weapon and a set of
clothes, none of which are needed to enjoy the game but are the major
types of items you would eventually want to obtain if you were invested
in your character.


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(5 / 5

Overall style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms gets
5/5 Hammers for its unique blend of
gaming styles and finding a perfect balance between them. While the
style and casual atmosphere may not appeal to all gamers, those who are
to give it a chance will be pleasantly surprised and probably more than
little hooked. 

style="border: 0px solid ; width: 600px; height: 373px;"
alt="Free Realms">

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 Virtual summer camp anyone?

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Free Realms Game Page.

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