NuMetalManiak Reviews: Freelancer

NuMetalManiak Chris Roberts is a name to remember as the guy who developed this game, it's distant prequel, and many other space-combat games for the PC. This was a game that I have kept on my hard drive...probably the longest out of any actual PC game, and for good reason, it is a fun game to play. It's something I can easily play, and also even modify. I have seen ways to edit game files for this game, as well as play standalone mods, and I will actually document all this in a file I plan to release called "Freelancer in 5 days", owing to my recent playthrough of this game, where I beat the main campaign in literally five days. So what caused me to do it again? I saw my dad reinstalled the game on his computer, and thought to replay the game. Of course, I am way better than him at gaming, there is zero denying that for a fact. Anyways, here is Freelancer.

Gameplay: Freelancer combines the aspects of space combat with space trading. Other games, such as X: Beyond the Frontier, have done that, and I have seen them. But Freelancer is a little easier to understand than the others. As the title of the game says, you play as a freelancer, can take jobs for pirates or bounty hunters, haul cargo, and explore star systems. Basically, it's a fully open-ended game in its entirety. Is it big? Somewhat. It's not huge huge like what No Man's Sky had led many people to believe before it turned down so many expectations. But it's not too small either, as there's lots of bases, asteroid fields, nebulae, and factions of each and every kind.

Critics who played this game revealed that their primary concern was how the universe in Freelancer (the Sirius sector) is actually not dynamic. It's a good thing that the critics decided to not make that the focus of their reviews and instead talk about a lot of good things which made Freelancer a truly fun game. Basically what was mentioned above, open-endedness. You can buy equipment and commodities for sale, take jobs to earn credits, and then hopefully buy new ships and stuff. The game has a level system based on your net worth, which gives it a slight RPG feeling.

Space flight is as you probably would expect if you played a space combat simulator before. 360 degrees, equip guns, turrets, countermeasures, missiles, mines, torpedoes, and cruise disruptors, and keep your shields and hull healthy. There are ways to repair them so you don't get blown up in the middle of space, and there are also rewards from destroyed craft you can tractor in. One thing I found odd is how everything is on a 2D plane, and the nav map is 2D as well. This means flying above or below the plane seems to find nothing of interest. Some mods do utilize 3D space a bit more than the original game. I should mention, this doesn't use a joystick, it uses a mouse instead, so make sure your mouse is in good shape.

The reputation system deserves special notice. Things you do in-game affect lots of factions. Notably, they can be hostile, neutral, or friendly depending on your action. Shoot a ship of a certain faction down, and the faction (and any allies) looks at you more as a threat. Do jobs for a faction and succeed, or take a bribe, and a faction becomes more friendly. Given how some bases and areas are aligned, it definitely is a wise decision to not be hostile in some areas. Grade: A+

Plot: I'm gonna skip a characters section and go straight to the plot. The opening movie shows a shot of what basically happens in Starlancer, a full-fledged space combat simulator also developed by Chris Roberts. Now, Starlancer is Freelancer's distant prequel, showcasing a war between Coalition and Alliance forces. The Coalition forces (composed of Russian, Middle-eastern, and Chinese, but mostly Russian) gain the upper hand, and the Alliance (basically every other nation on Earth) falls back, sending sleeper ships to the Sirius sector to recolonize a different part of the galaxy). What's interesting is that they manage to make governed houses by doing so. There's the Liberty (USA), Rheinland (Germany), Kusari (Japan), Bretonia (UK), and Hispania (Spain). Four houses were made (the Hispania had split into two major pirate factions, Outcasts and Corsairs), and things were all colonized.

Fast-forward to Freelancer's single player campaign now. The campaign takes place in what the Discovery mod calls the Nomad War, and starts with the destruction of Freeport 7 by unidentified vessels. Tons of speculation occurs over the station's destruction, and the player plays the role of a Freeport 7 survivor, Edison Trent. Poor Trent makes the trade deal of a lifetime on the station when it blows up, and loses his ship and money. In the meantime, he is on Planet Manhattan looking for some work, finding it by working with the Liberty Security Force (LSF). He does this to pass the time so that his lackey, Lonnigan, recovers from medical injuries sustained during the Freeport 7 incident. He owes Trent the deal.

Only for Trent, he never gets paid that deal. Lonnigan's going paranoid, even getting in trouble with the law. At some point he is killed, and also believed to be the leader of the terrorist group The Order, whose ships actually destroyed a Rheinland diplomat on the first mission. Meanwhile, Freeport 7 survivors have been disappearing, and Trent winds up finding out why. Turns out a thief was on the station with an artifact (artifacts are considered contraband in this game). The thief then gets killed, and Trent has to escape from Liberty along with Jun'ko Zane (Juni), an LSF agent whom Trent was working with before. They manage to escape to Bretonia, but not before getting the attention of both the Bounty Hunters as well as the Rheinland Military.

While keeping a low profile in Bretonia, Juni finds a lead for a scientist named Quintaine, and Trent and Juni then find Kendra Sinclair, a xenoarcheologist. The Rheinlanders end up attacking them throughout Bretonia. Eventually Trent finds Quintaine and tells him about the artifact. They all must escape Bretonia though, because of Rheinlanders being just about everywhere there. At a base in the Borderworlds, Trent finds out the scientists need the Proteus Tome, found in the Kusari house. Trent and Juni team up with the Blood Dragons under Lieutenant Ozu, and then Trent and Ozu eventually find Governor Tekagi's base.

This is where we learn more about the Nomads. Governor Tekagi is being controlled by one, exhibiting non-human characteristics. Ozu is killed, but manages to kill Tekagi as well, while Trent escapes with the Proteus Tome. Lord Hakkera, an Order agent, instructs Trent to breach into Rheinland and aid Von Claussen, another Order agent. Together with the Bundschuh faction they discover the experimental Nomad shipyard, where there are tons of battleships in tow. The Order flagship, the Osiris, takes Trent in and then he meets Caspar Orillion, leader of the Order. The Order turns out to be a peacekeeping faction, directly fighting the Nomads. With the help of Trent, as well as that artifact he had basically the whole game, the Nomads were defeated, but not gone. Trent, along with Juni, end up no longer being fugitives, and by then on, the game becomes fully open-ended. The plot overall is pretty interesting, bland at first, but the artifact seems to drive literally everything to happen. Grade: A-

Music: The atomspheric tracks defining certain areas are cool, along with the ambience provided for nebulae and asteroid fields. Battle music is different according to area. Even the bar music has some place. I like it all. Grade: A.

Overall Grade: A

Yes I recommend this game a lot. Shame it isn't on the list I posted it on, but that's fine. I still like this game for what it had worth. Highly recommended, little flaws, and open-ended gameplay that is fun to push through.