Thursday, April 30, 2009

Played Lately: Free Realms

  • Once again, I feel must modify the post title in some clever way. If I could break out of the straitjacket I've constructed for my blog, I would have titled this post "Not Able To Play Lately: Free Realms." This is not because I don't have the time. There is plenty of time in the evenings to play and cavort with the fairies and doggies and robgoblins. No, the bane of my gaming is a full system crash.

  • Five full system crashes to be exact. It's not even the very painful, but "I can deal with this crap" crash-to-desktop (CTD). No, this is a full black screen, system locked, power off to reset crash. This is not something I've had to deal with for a year or two thanks to Windows Vista. (Yeah, I know, "Boo, hiss.") So trying to play a game that I'm actually thinking about paying five dollars a month for has been a frustrating experience. I feel so put upon.

  • The bits I have been able to play have been lots of fun. I like the idea of having lots of jobs to jump between. So far, I've only found the Brawler, Chef, and Pet Trainer jobs, though I have the quest to try Kart Racing. I also ran through the Card Game demo and I'm eager to try that. Free Realms has taken the idea of horizontal advancement to very interesting place. Although this is aimed at a younger audience, I think there is something to take away for more serious games.

  • However, what struck me before I'd even pressed the "W" key to start running was the visual style. Evidently, SOE didn't want to make another ugly game. The best way to describe the graphics is WoW 2.0. It looks like all the lessons taught by World of Warcraft and Wizard 101 have been taken to heart here, only expanded to a greater degree. Everything is bright or dark, as appropriate, and colorful. And everything is big and bold. There is not a lot of room for subtlety in a computer game. WoW knows this and went the opposite direction. FR feels larger than life which fits my fantasy mood perfectly.

  • As for the fee model, I can easily see myself paying for a subscription. I was on the hook as soon as I saw a Members Only bonus quest objective. Knowing that i might miss out on something because I didn't sign up is too much for me. The microtransactions are another matter. I have a huge psychological block when it comes to buying "points" just to buy other stuff. Except for Rock Band. That's the bar you have to reach. If your items aren't as cool as Rock Band, you don't get my cash.


  1. I'm having the same full system crash, using windows xp. I'm not sure what causes it because this is the only time I've ever experienced this type of total crash from a website and haven't had the time to figure out the reason.

    Any tip would be appreciated, since this problem isn't happening to many players then I'm assuming it might be some malware program our computer is infected with.



  2. Thanks for stopping by, Larry. I've solved the Free Realms crashs solely by playing in Windowed mode. Not sure how that helped, but give it a try. I've actually come to like it.