It’s rare that the by nature impatient gamers have waited so long for a game. Freelancer was announced back in 1999 and after that it became quiet, very quiet. Now, 4 year later the happy moment has arrived. Freelancer is here. Wet dream of huge disappointment ? Let’s take off and find out.
Freelancer is situated 800 years after the happenings in Starlancer. The Alliance admits their defeat to the Coalition and in a last act of desperation they launch five ships with cryogenically frozen people. The plan is to start all over again in the Sirius system.
Unfortunately one of the tow ships gets lost during the flight. With the others everything turns out ok fortunately and everything starts all over again in the Sirius system.
You’re Trent. At the time Freelancer starts you’re on Freeport 7. Too bad for you a group of terrorists attacks the base and you just barely escape. Together with the other survivors you’re brought to the planet Manhattan where one after another they start to die or get missing. Strange things that form the basis for the underlaying story.
Storyline ? Wasn’t total freedom promised ? Of course you have that but in the single player part you also get a pretty complicated plot which will keep you occupied for the necessary hours. Between two missions you’re free to explore the rest of the universe and take care of things. Once you’ve collected enough money you go to the next mission. And what after the end of the story, is that the end of the fun ? Certainly not as you haven’t seen even half of the universe.
Most of the time you’ll be spending in your space ship, looking your way between planets and asteroids. The controls are really super simple and everything is done with the mouse/keyboard interface. There’s really no practice necessary and after five minutes you’ll know what to do. Two viewpoints are present, the standard 3rd person and a cockpit perspective. You choose what you like best.
The universe in Freelancer is modelled beautifully. There are literally dozens of starbases, planets and outposts where you can dock to trade stuff. On these bases you can also upgrade your vessel, accept missions and gather information. Travelling between places goes through so-called “trade lanes” where you fly extremely fast from point A to point B. Watch out though as pirates tend to attack on these trade lanes.
Another way to get money is to shoot rocks in asteroid fields. Sometimes you can get valuable goods out of those while other times you’ll find nothing. Trading is of course also an option although sadly the prices never change; once you start a trade in gold, it remains as it is.
If you like the violent approach more you can partner up with a military patrol and start shooting some pirates.
A downpoint are the conversations with the NPC’s (who contain a treasure of information and missions) which are endlessly repetitive and it’s irritating that each one of them has an almost equal voice. This definitely could have been done better although it doesn’t really spoilt the fun.
The character animations look realistic although they’re not top quality.
Multiplayer is nice for dead moments. You get the same huge universe but without storyline and that’s where the problem lays. All the missions you get on planets and starbases look alike and it bores easily. You’ve got no goal so next to flying around a bit and upgrading your ship there’s little to do.
The size of the universe is also a disadvantage for multiplayer because even with 30 people on the same server it can happen you won’t see each other.
Conclusion: we had to wait a long time but Freelancer is worth it. A huge universe and a compelling storyline wash away all the minor downpoints. Multiplayer or single player, Freelancer is a hit which you NEED to have played. The storyline will keep you busy for a while and this time and age of short games this is a truly remarkable thing. Too bad of the boring multiplayer which can’t lift the game to higher grounds.