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Review: Free Realms

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My Life with Free Realms, a PS3 Review

Simply put, Free Realms is your basic form of an online RPG (also called MMORPGs).
It’s not as flashy, deep, or full of expansions as Final Fantasy Online and World of
Warcraft but its free to play set up and simplistic playing style is very welcoming. Kids
of all ages can jump in and enjoy leveling the various jobs and playing all the mini-
games. After having played with a membership, I can honestly say the game is fun but
isn’t without some flaws.

Let’s start with the basics of the start up and gameplay. You only get 4 choices for
character creations which are a human or fairy and a male and female counterpart. You
can alter your appearance a little bit but there isn’t much else going on here. You pick a
goofy name from the generator and you’re into the world. From this point on, you can
play however you’d like. You can change your jobs at the press of a button and follow
the story path of your chosen career. You can safely travel throughout the world as all
enemies you encounter need to be activated with your interaction button first. All job
leveling is pretty simple as most of it is handled through mini-games or battle scenarios.
Aside from becoming tedious, leveling is extremely easy and some jobs can be completed
to their max level of 20 in a few hours.

The menu set up is controller friendly although the learning curve is difficult. While the
menu, features, and functions are easy and simple, it took me quite some time to figure
where my character’s statistics were placed. In the same line, chatting is absolutely
horrible if you’re using the standard PS3 controller. Having a chat pad or a keyboard
is your best option but either way you’ll barely need to talk to anyone throughout your
gameplay so do not feel like you need to spend extra money for hardware. Talking
via headsets supposedly works although I couldn’t find anyone in game to test the
functionality. Whichever option you go with communication isn’t a strongpoint in this
game compared to all other MMORPGs out there.

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Leveling up is handled through mini-games which can be battles for melee classes or
matching/creation simulations for crafting jobs. The few miscellaneous jobs are leveled
up by playing their specific games. For example, you would level up the kart driver
by competing in racing events or fishing as the fisherman. The melee classes are easy
jobs but the leveling can be tedious and boring after a while. You just hit the ‘square’ button
to attack over and over again with the occasional ‘triangle’ button for a special attack.
Unfortunately there’s no depth here and all melee classes play the same. As for craft jobs,
the matching or “harvesting” segments aren’t too bad but can get boring as well. The
most fun out of leveling is the creation simulation in the chef and blacksmith jobs which
is reminiscent of playing “Cooking Mama” on the Wii. There’s more interaction and
skill here as rushing through will grant a lower score and will result in lower experience
points.

After each mini-game you’ll receive your “stars”, which is the experience point system,
as well as coins, the game’s currency. There are merchants scattered all over but you
can access the store at any time via your menu button. There are a decent amount of

things you can buy with your coins for jobs but you can also spend your real money
in a separate store accessed through the PlayStation Marketplace. The items in the
Marketplace are definitely better than coin purchased items but some items can cost you
close to $10. You’ll need to weigh your pros and cons about which purchases you want to
make.

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As fun and simple as Free Realms can be it has a lot of frustrating and boring moments.
First, the loading screens take way too long. If you fast travel to any location, you’ll
suffer through the same loading screen even if you’re going just a small distance in
the same area. As a personal input, I had Verizon DSL when I first started playing
Free Realms and switched to a high speed Comcast line and noticed no difference in
loading time. Second, there is no character guide system. Once you create your character
and change your job the game doesn’t guide you how to continue the storyline with
it. Considering there are about 15 different jobs there should be better guidance. Free
Realms just pits you out there to wander aimlessly until you figure out what to do
next. Third, as mentioned earlier, some jobs are extremely dull and tedious to level up.
You would think the melee class should be the most fun as it gets the most action but,
unfortunately, that is not the case here. Last is the actual membership system. The system
seems to “lose” your membership status randomly. Free Realms support stated that by
losing connection to the PlayStation Store would cause “hiccups” to the server and many
other users have this issue. My internet service never dropped and I wasn’t signed out
of the PSN during these times. Losing access to member only status causes you to lose
bonus coins from mini-game completion, leaves you unable to level jobs further, and
prevents you from obtaining/completing some quests and trophies. It’s bothersome as you
need to exit out and back in again, hoping it won’t happen again (refer back to loading
screen complaint).

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Free Realms isn’t the best MMORPG but it doesn’t set it out to be. It’s very casual and
there’s not a major level of difficulty. Some gamers may like that, others may not. You
can play for free to start and see if you’ll want to continue as a member. While Free
Realms is not the most high tech or in depth online RPG, I do enjoy my time in the game
for the simplicity. Unfortunately once the jobs are all leveled I’ll probably stop playing.

6/10

pixel Review: Free Realms

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