Written by  :  Matt Neuteboom (989)
Written on  :  Jun 11, 2007
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2.33 Stars2.33 Stars2.33 Stars2.33 Stars2.33 Stars

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Back in the day...

The Good

Runescape was one of those games that “was my childhood” if you are familiar with the expression. Back in middle school I played this game almost religiously, and my brother played it too. And his friend’s played it too. Whenever the computer was open we were bound to be on it, fighting over who got off when. We looked up websites and read tables of enemy stats, and researched quests and all that good stuff. Okay, so I didn’t have much of a life back in middle school.

I will use my experience as a focal point for this review. That is, no matter how long you play, grind, and achieve, you will never be anywhere close to beating this game. There’s simply too much to do, too many places to explore, and too many classes to learn. And this was back in middle school, when I had 10 hours of free time to dedicate to the game. And back then there was a quarter of the quests and skills there are now.

Runescape simply does not end. There are millions upon millions of items that can be used in junction with dozens of skills and hundreds of quests. I mean, come on, just look at the freakin’ map!. That was what it was like when I was a kid! Any it took me years to try and explore all of that. Even with all of my work I was still nowhere near done exploring all of the secret caves and passageways underneath the ground. But if you really wanna shit bricks, check what it’s like now. A walk from one edge of the map to the other would easily take 3 hours. To explore and do everything in between would take years.

But best of all is that it was free. I mean, you really have to understand what I was looking at when I was a kid. This was one of the biggest worlds I had ever seen in a video game (I had yet to be introduced to MMORPG’s) and it was all free. It was like giving out World of Warcraft accounts for free. In my premature years, my habit was nothing short of sheer addiction.

It was terrific. It had everything I needed. It gives you a good sense of achievement. The quests were fun, and the characters were very vibrant. A lot of them somehow acknowledged that they were part of an online video game, which made them extremely funny. Some of the quests are just downright silly. One of my favorites was when you have to dress up as a woman to rescue a guy from jail. Even better, the designers slip in funny message when you try to observe really simplistic things like posts or trees. Your own character is pretty witty even in the most dire, dangerous situations, and this was really a high point of the game.

And of course, like I said, its all free

The Bad

There are a lot of gamers out there who simply foam at the mouth just thinking about the potential this game has. It is such a living, breathing patchwork of questing and skills, and players and NPC’s that the appeal could just kill you. Even looking at the map gives one the feeling of an epic adventure. But honest to God, it simply isn’t as fun as it looks.

The feeling of having so many things around you is just too overwhelming. There are simply too many things to do. At first you want to build your skills, but you also need to do quests. At the same time you want to get better armor. All of this takes way too long. Getting past level 60 even in one skill ranking could take months and months of grinding. Again, I say, look at my example. I played this game for years on one single character, and I could not even get to level 60 in any ranking. Yet that unquenchable thirst that drives you to grow more levels is still there. In the end however, it is truly not worth it. The rewards for level growth is often minimal compared to the hours and hours of work required to get there.

As a result, no matter how hard I tried, I felt like I could never fit in, and in reality I really never was good enough for the big leagues. Everywhere I went, I felt like I was lowest level character in the entire bunch. It felt like I wasn’t supposed to be where I was, no matter where I was. I was the only person wearing gray steel in a bunch of Runite-clad knights. No matter what level I got to, there were still areas that were too high for me to go into, and there were spells and equipment I still had no access to.

Not to mention that Runescape was notorious for assholes who refused to help you on quests. It was really every man for himself back then. Quests with combat in them were difficult to finish because most combat quests were done solo. Mines were always packed and it was first come, first serve. If you weren’t fast enough to get to a rock in time, it was your loss. If you died, you lost ALL of the items on your possession, and you could count on it that your items would be scooped up off of your dead body within seconds.

Runescape, visually, is pretty unappealing. I can tolerate bad graphics, but even in the years that have passed, nothing has really changed. And I assure you, back then the graphics were shitty. And they still are shitty. When the backgrounds become detailed, they are usually meant fore nothing more than decoration. There’s really no interaction, and as a result, there really is no immersion that comes with the game.

But not only this, but the game was rife with horrible game glitches. Your character is slow as all Hell. Also, but the game window is seriously small. You move by clicking the mouse button on the ground around you, but because your view was so limited to only a few yards around you, you had to continually click in order to keep moving. Doing this over long distances is tiresome and tedious. Also, the game tended to lag a lot, then spike, so that everyone ran around furiously from all the clicks they made. Worse yet, accidentally clicking in the wrong spot could cause you to mistakenly attack a guard or do some irreversible damage.

Most of the skills are fairly useless too. The most you would need are the combat skills (melee, hand to hand, archery, magic, and maybe prayer) and mining, smelting, fishing, and cooking. The rest of the skills are quite useless. Skills like fletching and alchemy are rarely used in practical situations, so it’s an annoyance when you feel like you’ve wasted time grinding only to find out that the skill is of no practical use in the game. But the greatest problem I encountered in this game is that the only way to advance in levels was to grind up to the next level. Now, Runescape isn’t the most interactive of all RPG’s. The most you need is a mouse, since all of the commands are done through that. The result is, though, that training levels often incorporated merely clicking thousands of times in repetition for dozens of hours on end for a number of months until you get good at a skill, at which time you would move onto the next skill. And like I said before, the rewards for these tasks are minimal, and never compensate for the hours of work needed to be done to get to that point.

The Bottom Line

Most of RuneScape is eye candy. It looks like there’s a lot to do and explore on the surface, but the game’s appeal is superficial. Even after months and months of mind-numbing grinding, you are still nowhere close to playing in the big league and go on the “even more difficult dungeon” that you haven’t explored yet. There are just too many skills to level, and places to explore, and quests to do, and not enough time to do it.

There’s nothing really “fun” about Runescape at all. It was more frustrating to play than fun. The quests are nice and funny sometimes, but the interface is clunky and frustrating, and the skills are about as useless as being on the high score list at the local arcade; it looks good and it gets you bragging rights, but that’s about it. There’s no real skill involved. It just depends on how much time you’re willing to dedicate to this MMORPG, and how long you can repeatedly click your mouse. So if there’s no achievement and there’s no fun, then what ‘s the point of starting at all?