Free Play Reviews: Runescape (Archive)

Runescape by Jagex

What’s this? Do I, Andras, dare to take on the monolithic giant that is Runescape? And no, I don’t actually expect you to answer that. Speaking into your computer would be stupid. Don’t do it. Seriously.

What You Say?

The history of Runescape is not what you would typically expect from a game of Runescape’s stature, and is only referenced slightly during my time with the game. The complete expanse of their knowledge can be found within the lore section of the website. If you want the most brief description of the story possible, I can give it in 6 letters. MMORPG. That’s right, yet another fantasy based online role-playing game. The lore wasn’t serious, mostly comprised of small humorous few of which actually add to the universe. This is forgiven, since the game does not seem to take itself seriously, and sees most of its own actions as a joke. The few of you who enjoy the “role-playing” portion of role-playing games should be warned.

Where do I sign?

As I am sure most of you readers know you must sign up for an MMO in order to play it, if you don’t know this you should stop looking over daddies shoulder while he is trying to read this magnificent blog. Signing up for Runescape was THE least painful experience of any of the MMOs thus far. The only information it asked for was my date of birth, the username I want, and the password I want. No email address was required, or even politely requested. During the registration process it provides you with a link on where to go to start playing. From the time I accessed the site to the time I actually started loading up the game took a grand total of 58 seconds. Bravo Runescape, you crazy jackal, bravo.

The Pointy End Goes in the Bad Guy

So, you’ve just spent a record breaking amount of time creating your account, now you want to put it to good use and start your grinding/leveling cycle. First it is important to note that Runescape now comes in 2 different visual modes. The “advanced” mode has very impressive graphics considering it is a browser based game and extremely low system requirements. The low mode is very drab and dull, but honestly if your computer is so hopelessly outdated that it needs to use this mode you should be happy if your mouse can move from one end of the screen to the other without lagging, let alone playing an online game.

After selecting which mode you want to play in (please god let it be advanced) you can create your personal character. The formula for it is fairly standard, choose one of a half dozen hair types and hair colors, and clothing and colors. I found the selection to be reasonably good, and my emo/ancient bearded wizard was well on his way. After popping out of this virtual womb fully grown and clothed, you discover that your “hospital room” is nothing else but a dragon infested cellar. A nearby white knight initiates your tutorial by asking help fighting off this dragon. As far as tutorials go, this one started off fairly exciting and creative. It should be noted, however, that after this sudden burst of total creativity the developer in charge of it must have had his head explode, for after the initial engaging bits it all turns very bland. The tutorial quest is comprised entirely of you running around town meeting various trainers who then make you demonstrate the different content in the game. It is all very informative, but also very long taking well over a half hour for me. There isn’t even any option to skip the tutorial since all of the buttons and abilities of your character are hidden until the game has had the time to give you the full lecture on it. So, while it is a bit more entertaining than reading a tutorial page, I personally would have preferred just being able to read it all.

So About this Game…

So the few of you who have not already played Runescape are probably wondering how the game handles itself. My response would be that this MMORPG handles itself like an MMORPG. This is a nice quality of the game, since it seems well aware of its condition and place and makes no attempt to be something it is clearly not. This game has plenty of grinding, but each skill has its own individual grind. If you want to be good at tree cutting you have to cut trees, which all makes sense. Grinding combat is, surprisingly, a little less fun. Combat with a sword consists of a game of whack-a-mole. Only, unlike most games of whack-a-mole where you are required to whack the mole, hence “whack-a-mole”, the game thinks you’ll be content watching the moles whack each other as if there were some mole civil war. Magic can be a bit more fun, but getting the necessary runes to grind is a grind in itself. True, there are different fighting types for each weapon (accuracy, power, etc.), but really, once you find one you like you can keep with it and no one will call you out on it.

All this would be forgivable if you at least had a friend to keep your mind off of the monotony. While the game does allow a friends list and guild membership, there is no party system whatsoever. Furthermore, two players cannot attack the same creature. This means if you want to play with a friend, you can’t actually help each other in the way of combat. In fact, most of your player to player interaction would be in the way of the market. This lack of grouping, in my opinion, defeats the purpose of the MMO. This game could just have easily been released as a single player game and it would have made very little difference.

That’s not to say that this game isn’t fun. It is fun in the way that it is so incredibly massive, like walking down a New York city street if you come from the country. Really, all you’re doing is walking with an increased chance of getting mugged, murdered, and/or raped, but the city is simply so massive that treading its side-walks is entertainment in itself.

Internet Highwaymen?

What’s the catch here? Really, it is pretty simple. There is an optional subscription, at $5 a month, which gives you more of the same. You get 100 more quests, mini-games, more skills, more lands, and regular content updates. Considering the price is one third the price of a regular MMO, it isn’t a bad deal. However, unless you have a powerful yearning to be the next greatest farmer, it would be worth it to wait until you have exhausted all of the free game’s quests before whipping out your credit card.


Basically, it is a dumbed down version of World of Warcraft that comes free of charge. But considering how dumbed down it is, where the very combat system seems out-dated, you might find a better MMO elsewhere. That is, unless you enjoy the grind, in which case this game will easily fill your cheapskate appetite. I just want to throw in that this is one of those games you may not want to tell people you play, otherwise they might pick you up by your power-ranger’s underwear and hang it over that red mailbox you have and while you’re wailing and wailing for your mommy a car comes by and throws a bear bottle at you and it cracks on your head and your so miserable that you spent the rest of your life sitting in front of the computer… or so I’ve heard.

((This review was made in the year 2009 and does not remain completely faithful to the current state of the game. Review by Andras.))

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