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SummaryA poor man's Warcraft.
The GoodSo if you're into browser games of any sort, you'll probably have heard of Runescape the MMO java game. We all know that it is HUGE, if you have no idea how big the game map is, just go search for Runescape world map in Google now, you'll be amazed. This massive landscape is probably the selling point of Runescape, (note the words selling point) it pretty much guarantees that you will never explore it all.
But of course a big map can't be the focal point of a game, there are the generic skills all fantasy RPG games tote, skills such as: Attack, Defence, Strength, Ranged ability, and Hitpoints. Attack determines what weapon you can wield, so you may see someone with a lower than usual level, carrying round a pretty devastating weapon. Defence is self-explanatory, the higher your level the more sophisticated armour you can wear.
Strength is probably the main factor in melee warfare, basically the higher your strength the more likely you are to do more damage. Most people will grind this skill, for hours upon hours just so they can trawl through NPC enemies more efficiently.
In addition to the usual RPG formula skills, there are a healthy amount of interesting skills that you won't see in many other RPGs. If you decide to walk the criminal path you can have a bash at pickpocketing, where after many hours of pilfering menial amounts of gold you can rank up to steal cakes, precious stones and other things of higher value.
Another rather, different but definitely welcome skill is farming. Now when people think of farming as a main part of an RPG they lose all hope for it, but don't be put off just yet, its entirely optional, you're not going to be forced to do it, (unless there's a certain quest which asks for it, which we'll discuss later) and it can prove to hold quite a bounty. Again, if you grind through levels and levels you'll eventually get better rewards, like being able to plant and harvest useful plants which can be parts of medicine, which in turn can sell for a fair bit of cash, if you don't mind playing the waiting game.
We can't go much further without mentioning the quests, which is another big good point on the board for Runescape. There are loads, probably at least hundreds, enough to keep you occupied for a long while, until another one appears, which usually happens very often and is appreciated and gracefully taken. Most of the time it may be, go to point A, kill person B, go back. But they like to mix it up a little, you may have to hide into a crate, be transported to a far away island and kill all who dwell there. Either way the quests can be rewarding and easy, depending on the needed skills for it.
Merchanting is largely a player made idea, not really approved by the developers of Runescape. Nonetheless it is still a big part of Runescape if you want to make serious cash. It works as a marketplace really, you go to the nearest bank, where there is always lots of people spewing, "NEED RUNE SKIMMY, 70K PLZ, >>>>AZNMAN120!<<<" you will come to this bloke's rescue, by buying the item he wishes, at a low price, and selling it to him to make a profit. The saying buy low, sell high really comes into play here, and you often see big numbers thrown about like spare change.
The final good point I'd like to make is that the NPCs and even your character seem to be aware, he/she knows people are controlling them, and that they're in an online RPG, and often say things unnatural to their setting, it can seem out of place but humourous all the same, and is a welcome change to the ever serious characters of World of Warcraft.
The BadYou know most of the good points I listed up there? You won't be getting them for free. Of course no one would be gullible enough to think they get a mass landscape to explore, a dose of unique skills and a neverending amount of quests, but you would have thought you'd get some of it for free. Well you do, but you really won't be playing the game unless you're willing to part with some money.
The free members map, is a mere fraction of the size of the members map, its still fairly large, but you will run into gates alot of the time informing you that you are not a member, and therefore have no right to go any further.
The amount of skills are cut down, you still have your basics that I mentioned earlier, but you won't have many of the interesting ones, ala Farming, pickpocketing and hunting. And the amount of quests you get for free, is measly, you will easily complete them within a few weeks of playing, and with nothing else to do except occupy yourself with some player made past time.
Which brings me onto another point, if you're drooling at the thought of Merchanting and have six figure numbers in your bank account, you better be a member. Yes you can't even merchant if you're not paying because the members, only want rare MEMBERS things. You will have nothing to offer to them because they will have it already, twice over.
Another thing not mentioned about the quests is that the prequisites for starting the quest can just be there, to waste your time, yes you will need that skill at that level for that quest, but sometimes its such an unreasonable level, that you will just forget what you were doing in the first place.
Finally, you better be willing to put up with pretty shoddy graphics.
Yes I know there's recently been an update, (which has only updated it to look like really bad PS1 games) and that its a java, browser based game, but really, when water just looks like a blue carpet with some holes in it, you know there's something up.
The Bottom LineThere's no doubt that Runescape offers alot.
Huge map, Mass amount of skills and quests, and occasionally funny NPCs.
But only to Members remember.