User review spotlight: Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (DOS)

Freelancer (Windows)

Published by
Developed by
Released
Platform
84
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.8
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  William Shawn McDonie (1092)
Written on  :  Oct 04, 2007
Rating  :  2.86 Stars2.86 Stars2.86 Stars2.86 Stars2.86 Stars

8 out of 8 people found this review helpful

write a review of this game
read more reviews by William Shawn McDonie
read more reviews for this game

Summary

Good game, Just wish they could have done more

The Good

First of all I was a big fan of the old Privateer games so when I heard this game was supposed to be a Privateer remake I was pumped. If you haven’t played Privateer it’s basically a game where you can go anywhere do anything and be anybody. The storyline only progressed as you wanted it to so you (the player) had complete control. That kind of freedom of gameplay coupled with excellent controls, hard hitting gameplay, and a decent plot made Privateer one of the greatest games of all time..

Like Privateer this game has the same type of elements and potential, you can try running cargo, being a merc or just following the storyline. (a bit more on this later) Basically the core of this game is just like Privateer. Your fun comes from earning new weapons, ships and seeing new sights.

Speaking of sights, the visuals in some parts of the game were jaw dropping. A few times I just stopped playing to feast my eyes on some of the greatest visuals ever. The vastness of space is fairly well represented but only to the point where you begin to notice it. At that point the jump gates, wormholes speed up the travel portion so it doesn’t interfere with game flow.

Battles are fun and enjoyable and easy to learn using a mouse which was unique for a traditional flight sim.

The storyline is what I would say is good not great but decent. I think I have to wait for the bad area to explain more.

Replayability is fair to good, with some mods you can really expand the game a lot so I would say you get your money's worth after the plot is finished.

The Bad

With out a doubt this game falls into the category of "should have could have but didn’t". I know from reading a few articles about the game that the designers had much more intended for this game but were overruled to create a game where more casual gamers could enjoy. In my opinion this is evident in many areas of the game and it in my eyes takes a potential hall of fame game to an ok forgettable game.

1. Economics - The designers had intended to make this dynamic so that a player who wanted to be a merchant instead of a killer had a very in-depth game element. Instead Microsoft dumbed it down and made it very basic.

2. People interactions - This one is huge and takes so much fun out of this game. When designed the game was supposed to have hundreds of interactive folks you would deal with in game. They were supposed to be able to enhance the ambiance of the setting and change as your rep changed. They were also supposed to have original dialog and different voices. Instead all the characters on all the planets and stations say basically the same exact things, sound all-alike and look all alike. You heard one person talk to you on one planet you have heard them all. A total waste of a great possibility, in privateer the ambiance of each town and station made it unique and interesting. You WANTED to visit it just to see it, in this game the only reason you go anywhere is for the money making or plot advancement purposes. Had this one area been allowed to be completed it would have in my opinion raised the score of the game by 20 points.

3. Dude someone stole my flight controller. - So you design a hard-core space flight game and then say you want to encourage casual gamers by having mouse control. Ok I can live with that, but what in heck was Microsoft thinking not even supporting a flight stick! It’s all part of the experience; you use a flight stick so you feel like you are really a pilot. Somehow the mouse doesn’t quite make it feel that way. What a total joke and rip off, what makes this even worse is it comes from the very same company that sells the force feedback flight sticks for over 100 bucks and then doesn’t support it in a major flight title!

4. Freedom from the plot - Remember what I said about Privateer being a free game where you could follow the plot when you choose to?. Well in this game that just isn’t so, you are purposely limited to small areas of the game world during each part of the game. This is determined by the plot, which you are basically forced to follow. The same freedom you had in privateer just isn't the same in this game. Way too linear.

5. Lack of depth - Once you eliminate the story line and a few small areas of the game its basically rather boring. What made the privateer world interesting was its diversity in people, places, missions, and challenges. While on the surface Freelancer has all the trappings of this diversity in practice it doesn’t. Because of the dialog issues with characters and the lack of interesting side story’s it makes your non story line missions get boring after the first few missions.

6. Expandability - The game is in a serious need of an expansion pack. More systems, more ships, more challenges and for heavens sake better dialog for characters.

7. Plot - Frankly in some ways this game had a better plot or I should say a larger plot than privateer. However it isn't enough to carry this game alone. The whole idea of a "freelancer" is to be free and have complete control. Tying down the plot and forcing you to play it kind of kills the whole concept and makes you resent the plot instead of enjoying it.

The Bottom Line

Now that 4 years have passed clearly you aren’t going to pay 49.99 for this title now. For 10 bucks this game is definitely worth the price. Just keep in mind it never lived up to its promise and remember to go look for player made mods to make it fun after you beat it.