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PC Reviews: Freelancer


Freelancer Screenshots

The Final Say!


Freelancer - reviewed by Andrew B
Review Date: March 12 2003
Review Score: 9.0/10
Distributed by Microsoft 

Freelancer is the latest space epic from Microsoft that not only reminisces  the games of yesterday like Wing Commander and Privateer but also adds a new spin for space combat games. Freelancer is set in the distant future where mankind has finally conquered the finally frontier... space!

Although mankind has harnessed the powers to allow for space travel and colonizations of distance worlds, human nature can never be changed and the battle between order and chaos still reigns supreme. 

Freelancer is very similar Privateer, a spin off from the Wing Commander series that has you selling your skills to the highest bidder in order to make a living. In this game, you play the role an ace pilot who has become a freelancer after a deadly series of attacks have left you stranded and without the means of a space craft. Fortunately for you, your skills can help acquire a job and there are various employers who are always after an ace pilot. 

The main premise behind Freelancer is to perform a variety of different missions in order to gain money, fame and an improvement in your current circumstances. The beauty of Freelancer is that the storylines are quite linear and depending on which path you choose, it will effect the outcome of the game, missions and even the ending of the game. You can virtually be the good guy or the bad guy in Freelancer and work for law enforcement agencies, corporations or criminal organisations. 

As you complete missions, you awarded money that will allow you to upgrade and even purchase additional crafts and weapons. The missions in Freelancer vary greatly, one mission may involve escorting a convey to a particular gateway or another mission may be purely a mission of death and destruction. 

The main method of gameplay in Freelancer is a space combat game that uses a mixture of keyboard and mouse movements to control your space craft and there are literally dozens of different keys that you must memorize in order to master this game. Fortunately the first few missions of Freelancer are a basic tutorial of the game and shows you the basics of controlling your space craft. 

As Freelancer is a space combat game, you must fly between various star systems in order to progress through the missions but the main form of gameplay is attacking enemies and defending your allies. 

Whenever you land on a new planet, you have an option of places that you can visit. Theseplaces include bars (to gain employment or listen to rumours), equipment dealersand the standard space dock to name a few. The storyline of Freelancer is mainly pushedforward through ingame cinemas that really help add to the atmosphere of thegame. Freelancer also boasts over 31 different types of playable craftsthat range from light fighters, heavy fighters, very heavy fighters and thebehemoth freighters. Light fighters are easily my favourite ship in the game asthey are quick and very easy to manoeuvre, although there defence capability isfairly slim.

Imust say that the developers have done an extraordinary job at the controlsystem of Freelancer because the main tool used for controlling your space craftis the mouse that can be used to target enemy units or for free flight mode.Depending on which craft you have in the game, it can perform a variety ofdifferent moves and is also equipped with a deadly futuristic arsenal that canliterally give the Death Star a run for its money. Apart from the variousweapons your star craft holds, it can also strafe (a much needed tool that islacking from many space combat games), accelerate, decelerate, dock, joinformations, display maps, hail and scan the cargo of space born units. *phew*

GraphicallyFreelancer contains a bevy of impressive features that include high-resolutiontextures, amazing lighting effects and some great backgrounds that includenebulae, galaxies and beautifully recreated 3D worlds. All the space crafts inthe game are made up of polygons so you can virtually see every angle of thecraft that really helps add to the realism of the game. The downside to thepolygons is that some of the crafts appear quite basic and lacklustre butfortunately as the game progresses, the more crafts you encounter, the higher thedetail becomes. The lighting effects in the game is truly amazing, especiallywhen you glimpse a distance sun or see enemy fire blazing in the distance not tomention the awe-inspiring weapon fire. Thebattles are reminisces of Return of the Jedi and the explosions in thegame are one of the best I have seen in a long time, that is, for a space combat game.Some of the ingame movies of Freelancer, for example when you are talking to barmen, policeor citizens look straight out of a first person shooter because the characterslook so realistic and have some beautiful texture details. 

Freelanceralso features an amazing orchestrated soundtrack that sounds straight out of aHollywood blockbuster and really helps portray a variety of feelings for thegamer such as danger, action, intrigue or the impending doom of an invasion. Allthe voice acting in the game is extremely professional and doesn't feel forcedor amusing as some of the other space combat games out on the market at themoment. The sound effects in the game contain all the usual explosions, soundsof lasers or shields losing power as you would expect to hear in a futuristicspace battle or Star Wars.

Freelanceris a great game and helps fill the void of space combat games and I would highlyrecommend this game to anyone who enjoyed the Wing Commander series, Privateeror Starlancer (the prequel to this game). With awesome graphics, an intriguing storyline and amazing soundeffects, Freelancer is the perfect game to break the drought of Christmas!Before I go, Freelancer also contains a great multiplayer mode that is ideal forpeople with broadband or for those that want something uniquely different fortheir LAN games. Some servers on the internet actually allow up to 128 playersto join in to allow for some of the greatest space multiplayer combats to have evergraced our little planet.  HighlyRecommended!

- Andrew B

Minimum Configuration

· Windows® XP, Windows Me®, Windows 2000®, or Windows 98 SE®     (Windows NT® and Windows 95® are not supported)

·      600 MHz processor

·      128 MB RAM

·      4x CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive

·      1.3 GB free hard disk space plus space for saved games (additional space required for Windows swap-file and DirectX 9 installation)

·      16 MB video card with DirectX 9 compatible driver.

·      DirectX 9 compatible sound card

·      Keyboard

·      Mouse

·      An Internet Connection for Multiplayer (56k v.90 or faster required) 

Recommended Configuration

·      1 GHz or faster processor

·      256 MB RAM

·      8x or faster CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive

·      32 MB video card with DirectX 9 compatible driver

Recommended for Serving Multiplayer Games

·      A Broadband Type Internet Connection or LAN Network:

DSL, Cable, T1, T3, etc.






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