I've said it at release, every 5 years after and I'll say it two decades later. This game should've spawned a "freelancer-like" genre where developers take the gist of the game and build from there. There were so few good space sim games in over twenty years, it leaves me speechless that after all this time so eew games could come close to Freelancer. How can it be so difficult to create more games like this with modern mechanics and graphics?
If we consider they worked for this game for about 4 years, a massively multiplayer add-on being cancelled 2 years ago, its presence on just one CD doesn't really justify the absence of a true nonlinear gameplay, the imbalance between the economical and military aspects, the lack of some options which are considered now a standard of the genre, the low difficulty of the game due to the poor quality of the AI and the short period of time after which both modes don't offer any more challenges.
You'll be impressed by the graphics. They don't seem as jaw-dropping as they did three years ago, but they have held up nicely and allow for an astonishing number of different ships and other space objects onscreen at the same time, which makes for some very hectic battles.
The game does suffer from a lack of innovation as it progresses, but the basics of the gameplay are solid and the sheer polish of the title - not to mention the interesting plotline - are enough to keep you going for many, many hours.
Remarkably compelling. But there's only so much joy to be found in repetition, particularly when dogfighting interludes are so mannered. Ultimately, it's difficult to recall what all the fuss was ever about. [May 2003, p.100]
Okay, so let me start by saying that I like this game. It has nice graphics (for it's day) and a good story. But that's it for the good stuff however. Some would say that's enough but it really is not. The gameplay is linear to an extent that won't bother you the first time you play the game but afterwards it will stick out like a sore thumb. After the story ends most have seen maybe 10 % of the worlds that are available in the game
While this game was very innovative back in 2003, with it's realitme NPC conversations and well built multiplayer support, only today we can see some of it's major flaws. The lack of variety for such a game is rather amazing, which really becomes noticeable in both singleplayer and multiplayer missions, which are exactly a handful of Go-There-And-Kill-Target sequences. However, this is a very targeted game for third party modders, and with titles like the Discovery Mod, **** worlds, Monkey Universe, Flack and others, one might wonder if the Microsoft corp would finally make the game's source code public to enhance the experience of a 2003 game, which is still favored by a wide variety of players even now.
The game's best features is it's very simple, arcade-like control system, which allows new players to quickly master the movement of their ships, something not a lot of arcade games can boast about. Obviously calling Freelancer a space sim is rather odd, the odd scaling of ships and stations vs planets, lack of gravity, very odd distance measurement and broken physics give this game a clear arcade feel to it. An arcade game, which can keep you amused for a very long time.
SummaryA society taking its first timid steps into 48 sprawling galactic systems cannot hope to dam every human spring of greed and bloodlust. Make your own way, Freelancer. Ply the trade lanes for profit or raid them for plunder; slake your own thirst for vengeance on the world or take up arms to enforce the law. Take your wealth as a hired gu...