Pretty decent once you get through all the piss
- Very interesting quests and mini-quests.
- Combat and controls are easy to understand
- Lots to discover in the big world
- Lots of skills
- Constant disconnections and long loading screens
- Lacking graphics
- No more PvP the way I loved it
- Slow leveling
- Membership is forced on you
The Bottom Line
I remember playing this game when I was eleven years old, it was pretty sweet at the time, but I was even more surprised when I heard some kids in town talk about this game. After a very enjoyable year with this game I thanked it for its hospitality and continued further into the video game industry, so I wondered how much had changed in five years time. When I went to www.runescape.com I was treated on a very nice trailer that showed me amazing graphics (for a browser game that is), epic cinematic action and adventurers working side by side in order to survive an onslaught of enemies.
Hyped as hell I instantly logged in using Facebook (sweet!) and I encountered my first foe in this game: a loading screen. I sat there for a few minutes staring at the screen like it would hurry stuff up before going down to make a cup of coffee, when I got back the loading screen was just getting finished. After that delightful bit of torture the very next thing the game threw at me was a disconnection which send me straight back to the homepage. This is not what you'd call a good start.
After several minutes of disconnections and loading screens I finally got to a character creation tool which allowed me to pick between roughly two dozen classes. I went with the thief because that sounded like an interesting gameplay experience (plus it's the only thing I ever do in Elder Scrolls games) and after another freaking disconnection (this was not my internet by the way, it was working just fine and I was listening to music on youtube while "playing") I also got to pick between some clothes and hair styles.
The first thing I had to do when the game started working was starting out on a list with mini-quests that had me do little tasks that were not really worth basing a whole quest around. They started out pretty mandatory, but they became much more interesting as I got further into the game and nicely stimulated me to try a few things I normally wouldn't have done. What I also noticed the instance the game started working was that it took my preference for setting games on low graphics a little too serious and made it look like I was playing World of Warcraft on an Atari 2600. However after changing the graphics to their highest setting it still looked like ass and I gave up on trying to improve it somehow.
At this point it's also important to mention that you could control the entire game by just clicking on the screen, clicking did everything from moving to attacking. The only time you ever need to touch the keyboard is when typing in your password and moving the camera which I liked a lot. I also really enjoyed the huge amount of skills that were at my disposal, but what made me lose my temper was the fact that most of them (MOST!!!) were only available to members (the people who pay to play) including pick-pocketing which was the class I assigned to my character. What the hell is that about, I can pick a class, but not use it's skill? Why was this not mentioned on the character creation?! Becoming a "member" is pretty much required in this game; 70% of the quests are exclusive to them, half the world is also theirs and a lot of items can only be used by them as well as the skills mentioned before.
The world is still pretty big though and there are lots of interesting quests to do, which for some reason are much better then any quests in World of Warcraft because they all involve plot twists, cinematic moments and a certain amount of brain-power from the player. That does not mean the game is entirely grind free, in fact it's even more grind-happy then World of Warcraft because you need to level up your combat skills to level up your own level and once you get to around level fifty one combat level can take up to eight hours of constant grinding. Also don't forget that you'd need better food in order to help you while fighting, which means a higher cooking and fishing skill, but you also need armor, so be sure to keep training your forging and mining skills and I am sure there is some other stuff you'd like to grind yourself silly for because at the age of eleven you ain't got nothing better to do anyways.
Something I missed a lot was the wilderness which was a zone a long time ago where players could fight each other. It worked like this: The deeper you go, the higher your wilderness level gets, which meant could attack higher and lower level players (if you were level 30 and you were in level 5 wilderness you could attack level 25 players for example). This made for some very sensational adventures in the wilderness where you and some friends went inside the wilderness looking for lower level people to slaughter while simultaneously hoping nobody with a higher level would show up or optionally a dragon. This was awesome, but now you got arenas and special PvP games that cut out all the adventure because you always know when and when not you can be attacked by someone else.
At the end of the day, I do have to admit that I have grown too old for this game which probably means I am not longer its target audience, the people who this is intended for are little kids aged somewhere between eight and eleven and unless your some kind of Lucas (obscure movie reference), you are probably not going to know much about flawed game design and you probably never played a real big MMO to use as comparison when playing this game at that age. Runescape is a pretty sweet ladder that allows one to ease himself into the big world of video games with something simple that still offers a lot of depth for those who care to discover the story and secrets of the world (or pay ten euros a month).