Free Realms is a free MMO game that proves just how versatile Sony Online Entertainment – developer of Star Wars Galaxies and the upcoming The Agency, to name just a few – can get. This time they are trying to capture the attention of the youngest players, offering a beautiful environment filled with distractions and social focus. It’s hard not to feel charmed by Free Realms.
As usual with nearly every MMO game, the first step is to create an account and customize our avatar. There’s not much to choose from, with only two races available: humans and pixies. It could gain with a few more options, but we’ll have to settle with one of those. There’s a small client to download, with most of the loadings happening in the background, without much trouble. We also get a webpage for our newly created hero, showing his actions in the game, and all our friends can access it.
Usually, a MMORPG binds you to a job and leaves it at that. However, in Free Realms, there’s no such limitation, as you can change your job/class at any time. You can be a Blacksmith one minute and the next you’re a Go Kart Driver. A Postman, or maybe a Card Duelist. Perhaps a Fisherman, if you can handle all the excitement. Problem is, Free Realms isn’t entirely free, since five of the classes require a paid subscription.
But there’s no denying that the jobs are fun to play, as they are mostly mini-games. When you accomplish them, you earn gold and stars that represent the player experience, allowing him/her to level up. There’s equipment to gain, both by purchasing it or as a prize for a job well done. So, clearly this isn’t a MMO like many others, since there’s no fighting involved unless you really want to. Players can level up without killing a monster for hours on end.
The mini-games are diverse and skilled, ranging from racing (kart or demolition derby) to card games or even chess. But don’t let this make you think this is just a collection of mini-games, there’s so much more to it than that, so much to explore and learn. But there’s something that you should be aware, and that is the locked content and options in the game. Besides having some jobs locked, only one player slot and stumbling into subscriber-only quests, there’s also an item shop that is the usual model for this kind of game. This last option could easily be enough to warrant Free Realms’ viability, all the more with the several million players already registered. Asking for a $5 monthly subscription seems somewhat out of place.
But in the end it’s highly recommended to try Free Realms, and perhaps even succumb to the subscription. This is a free MMO that asks you to grind by killing monsters as much as it invites you to drive cars or deliver letters, among other mini-games. It is clearly aimed at the younger players, with its colorful looks and cheerful characters, but can be played by more mature players with an open mind. This is a successful attempt from SOE and a MMORPG that is bound to stay with us for a long time.
by Vítor Braz