Freelancer (video game)
Freelancer is a space trading and combat simulation video game developed by Digital Anvil
Digital Anvil
Digital Anvil was a computer game company. It was founded in 1996, when Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts left Origin Systems, Inc., along with many other employees....

 and published by Microsoft Game Studios
Microsoft Game Studios
Microsoft Studios is the video game production wing for Microsoft, responsible for the development and publishing of games for the Xbox, Xbox 360, Games for Windows and Windows Phone platforms. They were established in 2002 as Microsoft Game Studios to coincide with the release of the Xbox, before...

. The game was initially announced by Chris Roberts in 1999, and following many production schedule mishaps and a buyout of Digital Anvil by Microsoft, it was eventually released in March 2003.

In the game, players take on the roles of spacecraft
A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo....

 pilots. These characters fly single-seater ships, exploring the planets and space stations of 48 known star system
Star system
A star system or stellar system is a small number of stars which orbit each other, bound by gravitational attraction. A large number of stars bound by gravitation is generally called a star cluster or galaxy, although, broadly speaking, they are also star systems.-Binary star systems:A stellar...

s. They also engage in dogfight
A dogfight, or dog fight, is a form of aerial combat between fighter aircraft; in particular, combat of maneuver at short range, where each side is aware of the other's presence. Dogfighting first appeared during World War I, shortly after the invention of the airplane...

s with other pilots (player- and computer-controlled) to protect traders or engage in piracy themselves. Other player activities include bounty-hunting
Bounty hunter
A bounty hunter captures fugitives for a monetary reward . Other names, mainly used in the United States, include bail enforcement agent and fugitive recovery agent.-Laws in the U.S.:...

 and commodity trading. The single-player mode puts the player in the role of Edison Trent, who goes through a series of missions to save the Sirius sector from a mysterious alien
Extraterrestrial life in popular culture
In popular cultures, "extraterrestrials" are life forms — especially intelligent life forms— that are of extraterrestrial origin .-Historical ideas:-Pre-modern:...

 force. In multiplayer mode, players are free to take on any role and to explore anywhere from the start.

Originally, Roberts promised features such as automated flight maneuvers, dynamic economies, and a multiplayer mode that could host thousands of players, but diminished versions of these features were implemented in the final release. The game's initial technical demos impressed reviewers, but after the Microsoft buyout and Roberts' departure from Digital Anvil, critics had doubts about the game. Reviewers judged the final product technically good but failing to fulfill their initial expectations.


Published in 2003 for the Windows
Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...

 platform, Freelancer is a video game that simulates combat in space and inter-planetary trading. Players take up the roles of pilots who fly single-seat spacecraft
A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo....

, trading with merchants on space stations and planets, and engaging in combat against other vessels. Starting with a small spacecraft in a star system
Star system
A star system or stellar system is a small number of stars which orbit each other, bound by gravitational attraction. A large number of stars bound by gravitation is generally called a star cluster or galaxy, although, broadly speaking, they are also star systems.-Binary star systems:A stellar...

, the player's character explores the region, opening up new systems for further adventures. Each system provides opportunities to increase the pilot's wealth; aside from taking on jobs to ferry goods and hunting for bounties, the player character can engage in trade. The player character's primary goal in the game is to accumulate money, so as to buy more advanced weaponry and equipment to upgrade his ship.

The game is played primarily through "pointing and clicking
Point-and-click is the action of a computer user moving a cursor to a certain location on a screen and then pressing a mouse button, usually the left button , or other pointing device...

" with the mouse and a few keyboard commands. This system is also used to control the spacecraft, a breakaway from the traditional use of joystick
A joystick is an input device consisting of a stick that pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction to the device it is controlling. Joysticks, also known as 'control columns', are the principal control in the cockpit of many civilian and military aircraft, either as a center stick or...

s for space flight simulators. Observing their spacecraft from the rear, players fly their ships by moving the mouse in the direction they want the vessels to go. Freelancers spacecraft follow simplistic flight dynamics; however, a dash of realism is implemented by allowing the vessels to cut power to their engines and turn to face any direction while drifting along their original path—conservation of momentum. Clicking the mouse button shoots the ship's weapons at the location of the cursor. The interface has no radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 display; the location of objects not shown on the screen are indicated by pointers at the screen's edges. Targeting, communications, and navigation data are displayed in information boxes that can be minimized.

After the pilot docks with a space station or lands on a planet, the screen and its interface change to a rendition of the area he is visiting. The player moves the pilot to different locations and interacts with certain objects, such as reading a bulletin board and talking to other characters, by clicking on their graphical representations. Freelancers economy comprises the buying and selling of spacecraft, their armaments and components, and commodities. Certain goods are considered contraband in some systems, and they have to be smuggled past police patrols to their buyers. Computer-controlled characters (non-player characters or NPCs) in certain locations on the planets or stations offer quests and jobs.

Freelancer features a multiplayer mode, allowing up to 128 players to play together in a game. Multiplayer games are hosted on game server
Game server
A game server is a remotely or locally run server used by game clients to play multiplayer video games. Most video games played over the Internet operate via a connection to a game server...

s; personal computers that meet the requirements for the game can act as a server. Gameplay is similar to the single-player mode, but is absent of story-driven quests. Because the server keeps individual records of the players' progress, they can resume their game when they next log on to it. A persistent virtual galaxy
Persistent world
A persistent world is a virtual world that continues to exist even after a user exits the world and that user-made changes to its state are, to some extent, permanent...

 is thus maintained for them.

Plot and setting

The events in Freelancer take place 800 years after those in the video game Starlancer
Starlancer is a space-based science fiction flight simulator computer game, created by Erin Roberts, under the auspices of Digital Anvil.-Overview:It is the year 2160...

(2000). The solar system
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

 was engulfed in a civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

, fought between the Alliance and the Coalition. Facing defeat, the Alliance placed its people in stasis
Stasis (fiction)
Stasis , or hypersleep, is a science fiction concept akin to suspended animation. Whereas suspended animation usually refers to a greatly reduced state of life processes, stasis implies a complete cessation of these processes, which can be easily restarted or restart spontaneously when stasis is...

 and sent them to the Sirius system
Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. With a visual apparent magnitude of −1.46, it is almost twice as bright as Canopus, the next brightest star. The name "Sirius" is derived from the Ancient Greek: Seirios . The star has the Bayer designation Alpha Canis Majoris...

, where they settled and transformed the surrounding space (the Sirius sector) into a region of political intrigue and opportunity. The rule of the sector is mostly split among four houses, each named after the sleeper ship that brought them to the system. Each house exhibits the culture of its terrestrial ancestor: Liberty of 1920s
Roaring Twenties
The Roaring Twenties is a phrase used to describe the 1920s, principally in North America, but also in London, Berlin and Paris for a period of sustained economic prosperity. The phrase was meant to emphasize the period's social, artistic, and cultural dynamism...

 United States, Bretonia of Victorian era
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 United Kingdom, Kusari of Shogunate era Japan, and Rheinland of Second Industrial Revolution
Second Industrial Revolution
The Second Industrial Revolution, also known as the Technological Revolution, was a phase of the larger Industrial Revolution corresponding to the latter half of the 19th century until World War I...

 Germany. The fifth sleeper ship, Hispania, suffered a malfunction en-route and was abandoned in deep space. The descendants of its crew became pirates.

Freelancers planetary bodies and space stations lie on a single plane
2D geometric model
A 2D geometric model is a geometric model of an object as two-dimensional figure, usually on the Euclidean or Cartesian plane.Even though all material objects are three-dimensional, a 2D geometric model is often adequate for certain flat objects, such as paper cut-outs and machine parts made of...

. There are 48 known star system
Star system
A star system or stellar system is a small number of stars which orbit each other, bound by gravitational attraction. A large number of stars bound by gravitation is generally called a star cluster or galaxy, although, broadly speaking, they are also star systems.-Binary star systems:A stellar...

s, and spacecraft can travel from one system to another by passing through jump gates. Within a system, spacecraft can travel in the trade lanes—a series of gates that connect to form a "space highway"—to quickly reach places of interests, such as planets, space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

s, and mining operations. Asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

 and debris fields populate some of the systems, and secret hideouts and derelicts with valuable items exist in deep space. Merchant ships ply the trade lanes, carrying cargo from system to system and occasionally coming under attack by pirates. Patrolling the systems are police and large naval warships.


The player takes on the role of Edison Trent, a "mercenary freebooter
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

", in single-player mode. Regardless of Trent's background, the player can play him in different roles, such as being a trader, pirate, or bounty hunter
Bounty hunter
A bounty hunter captures fugitives for a monetary reward . Other names, mainly used in the United States, include bail enforcement agent and fugitive recovery agent.-Laws in the U.S.:...

. Throughout the story, Trent meets several NPCs, such as Liberty Security Force (LSF) commander Jun'ko Zane, xenoarchaeologist
Xenoarchaeology is a hypothetical form of archaeology that exists mainly in science fiction works concerned with the physical remains of past alien life and cultures...

 Professor Roland Quintaine, and head of a secret organization, Casper Orillion. Trent's relationships with these NPCs are pre-determined and illustrated by cutscene
A cutscene is a sequence in a video game over which the player has no or only limited control, breaking up the gameplay and used to advance the plot, strengthen the main character's development, introduces enemy characters, and provide background information, atmosphere, dialogue, and clues...

s; the player has no choice of import in Trent's interactions with these NPCs.

Most NPCs are aligned with a certain faction, such as the police, pirates, a company, or government. Each faction has its own agenda, and the relationships among them are interlinked in a web of alliances and hostilities. Player characters anger a faction and its allies by destroying its ships. Likewise, they gain the favor of a faction—and, to a smaller extent, its allies—by attacking its enemies. Player characters, who have a bad relationship with a faction, are attacked on sight by its forces and denied from docking with its stations. Paying bribes to a faction improves its attitude to the player character. Several NPCs with major roles are voiced by professional voice talent, such as Ian Ziering
Ian Ziering
Ian Andrew Ziering is an American actor best known for playing Steve Sanders on the television series Beverly Hills, 90210.-Personal life:...

 (Beverly Hills, 90210
Beverly Hills, 90210
Beverly Hills, 90210 is an American drama series that originally aired from October 4, 1990 to May 17, 2000 on Fox and was produced by Spelling Television in the United States, and subsequently on various networks around the world. It is the first series in the Beverly Hills, 90210 franchise...

), Jennifer Hale
Jennifer Hale
Jennifer Hale is a Canadian-born American actress and singer best known for her voice over work in video games like Grandia II, the Mass Effect trilogy, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Tales of Symphonia, the Metroid Prime trilogy, the Metal Gear Solid games, Brütal Legend, and Disney's...

 (Metroid games), George Takei
George Takei
George Hosato Takei Altman is an American actor, author, social activist and former civil politician. He is best known for his role in the television series Star Trek and its film spinoffs, in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the...

 (Star Trek
Star Trek
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

), and John Rhys-Davies
John Rhys-Davies
John Rhys-Davies is a Welsh actor and voice actor. He is perhaps best known for playing the charismatic Arab excavator Sallah in the Indiana Jones films and the dwarf Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy...

 (Indiana Jones
Indiana Jones franchise
The Indiana Jones franchise is an entertainment franchise, based on the historical fantasy adventures of Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, a fictional archaeologist. It began in 1981 with the film Raiders of the Lost Ark. A prequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, followed in 1984 and the sequel...

films and Sliders
Sliders is an American science fiction television series. It was broadcast for five seasons, beginning in 1995 and ending in 2000. The series follows a group of travelers as they use a wormhole to "slide" between different parallel universes. The show was created by Robert K. Weiss and Tracy Tormé...

). These NPCs are excluded from the multiplayer mode because of its lack of a campaign story (scripted missions).


The plot of Freelancers single-player campaign is illustrated with two hours worth of in-game cutscenes. The story is linear in structure—the player is unable to effect a different storyline—and broken down into stages. Cutscenes inform players of background events and the goals in a stage. Most stages have no time limits for their completion, and players can put the main story on hold while taking on missions (jobs) not crucial to it. However, players can only proceed to other regions of the Sirius sector, where more advanced ships, weaponry, and equipment are obtained, after completing missions that advance the story.

On starting single-player mode, a cutscene shows the destruction of space station Freeport 7 by unknown forces, leaving Trent without money or ship on the planet Manhattan. While waiting for his debtor, Lonnigan, to regain consciousness, Trent takes up employment with the LSF under Jun'ko Zane, who provides him with a small ship. Lonnigan refuses to pay Trent when he awakes and is mysteriously taken away by the LSF. His death is later announced, and Trent is contacted by a thief who reveals that a mystery party destroyed Freeport 7 to get an artifact in the thief's possession. An LSF officer kills the thief, and he is shot by Zane in self-defense as she arrives at the scene. Zane and Trent flee Liberty space, traveling across approximately half of the Freelancer world in their flight. Trent locates Dr Quintaine to learn more about the artifact. While finding additional materials for their research, they discover the existence of the Nomad alien race
Extraterrestrial life in popular culture
In popular cultures, "extraterrestrials" are life forms — especially intelligent life forms— that are of extraterrestrial origin .-Historical ideas:-Pre-modern:...

, who are the caretakers of an empire that belonged to the previous inhabitants of the Sirius sector, the Dom'Kavosh. The Nomads can possess
Demonic possession
Demonic possession is held by many belief systems to be the control of an individual by a malevolent supernatural being. Descriptions of demonic possessions often include erased memories or personalities, convulsions, “fits” and fainting as if one were dying...

 humans and have slowly infiltrated the four Houses in this manner, planning to ignite a civil war to weaken the humans for elimination.

Trent joins the Order, a secret organization formed to combat the Nomads, and helps to rescue the Liberty president from the aliens. Quintaine's research reveals the artifact to be a map and the key to the Dom'Kavosh's hyper gate—super jump gate—network, which currently acts as the Nomads' source of power. The Order launches an attack on what they believe to be the Nomads' homeworld
Dyson sphere
A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical megastructure originally described by Freeman Dyson. Such a "sphere" would be a system of orbiting solar power satellites meant to completely encompass a star and capture most or all of its energy output...

, aiming to activate the hyper gates and cut off the Nomads from their power supply. The activated gates suck the Nomads to an unknown location, and the Order watches over the gates for their return. With the Nomads' defeat, events return to normal in the Freelancer world. Trent and Zane are granted full pardons by the governments, and Trent is asked by the Order to be their eyes and ears in Liberty space, allowing the player to continue the game without any story elements.


In 1997, Chris Roberts began work on a vision he had since he first conceived Wing Commander. He wanted to realize a virtual galaxy, whose systems execute their own programs regardless of the players' presence; cities would be bustling with transports and each world's weather changes on its own time. Commodity prices in each star system would fluctuate, according to the activities of the computer controlled traders, who import and export goods. Roberts envisioned thousands of players simultaneously interacting with and influencing this world through a unique and intuitive user interface
User interface
The user interface, in the industrial design field of human–machine interaction, is the space where interaction between humans and machines occurs. The goal of interaction between a human and a machine at the user interface is effective operation and control of the machine, and feedback from the...

 never seen before in other games. Each player could pursue a quest set up for their character, and join other players to attempt other missions together without needing to exit the game and start a new mode of play. Artificial intelligence
Game artificial intelligence
Game artificial intelligence refers to techniques used in computer and video games to produce the illusion of intelligence in the behavior of non-player characters . The techniques used typically draw upon existing methods from the field of artificial intelligence...

 would fly the players' spacecraft, letting them concentrate on combat or other tasks. Roberts intended the cutscenes and gameplay visuals to be of equal quality so players would be unable to distinguish between the two.

Two years later, the project was officially announced as Freelancer at GameStock, an annual showcase to the mass media of Microsoft
Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

's games. The media covered the event, focusing on the features promised for this game. There were concerns about the state of the graphics and uncertainties over the promise of a dynamic economy, but gaming site GameSpot
GameSpot is a video gaming website that provides news, reviews, previews, downloads, and other information. The site was launched in May 1, 1996 by Pete Deemer, Vince Broady and Jon Epstein. It was purchased by ZDNet, a brand which was later purchased by CNET Networks. CBS Interactive, which...

 gave Roberts and his company, Digital Anvil
Digital Anvil
Digital Anvil was a computer game company. It was founded in 1996, when Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts left Origin Systems, Inc., along with many other employees....

, the benefit of their doubts. Initially in 1999, Roberts announced the game would be available on the market by fall 2000. However, the project suffered delays and by Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2000, Roberts said the earliest release for the game was at the end of 2001.

In June 2000, Microsoft started talks to buy Digital Anvil. Roberts admitted that his team required large sums of money, which only a huge company could provide, to continue developing Freelancer with its "wildly ambitious" features and unpredictable schedule; the project had overshot its original development projection of three years by 18 months. Roberts trusted that Microsoft would not compromise his vision for Freelancer, and was convinced the software giant would not attempt the takeover if it did not believe Freelancer could sell at least 500,000 copies when released. Roberts left the company on completion of the deal, but assumed a creative consultant
A consultant is a professional who provides professional or expert advice in a particular area such as management, accountancy, the environment, entertainment, technology, law , human resources, marketing, emergency management, food production, medicine, finance, life management, economics, public...

 role on Freelancer until its release. Microsoft instructed Digital Anvil to scale down the ambitions of the project and focus on finishing the game based on what was possible and the team's strengths. Features such as the automated flight control, conversations that had different choices of responses, and sub-quests were abandoned. Despite the reductions, several reviewers believed the resultant product was still true to Robert's vision.

The Freelancer team kept a low profile throughout 2001 before displaying a demo of their latest work at International Games Festival 2002, drawing large crowds. Microsoft announced the project was on schedule, and Digital Anvil added all the planned content for the game by October 2002. A beta test with approximately 500 testers was conducted, and the only main activities left were to refine the game's features and to fix errors uncovered in the testing. The game shipped to retailers on March 4, 2003, and was later available online through Yahoo
Yahoo! Inc. is an American multinational internet corporation headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, United States. The company is perhaps best known for its web portal, search engine , Yahoo! Directory, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! Answers, advertising, online mapping ,...

's Game on Demand service. Digital Anvil's role on Freelancer ended on June 6, 2003, with their delivery of a software patch
Patch (computing)
A patch is a piece of software designed to fix problems with, or update a computer program or its supporting data. This includes fixing security vulnerabilities and other bugs, and improving the usability or performance...

 to resolve issues on the server and cheating; the staff were redeployed to other departments in Microsoft. In accordance with their 5-year support policy for software, Microsoft stopped supporting the game on April 8, 2008, and shutdown their global server, which managed the list of multiplayer servers and the connection of players to them.

Freelancers soundtrack was released by Sumthing Else Music Works
Sumthing Distribution
Sumthing Distribution is a New York based company started by Nile Rodgers that distributes recording artist and independent record labels. It is the largest African-American owned distribution company in America.-External links:**...

 on November 18, 2003. Composed by award winning composer James Hannigan
James Hannigan
James Hannigan is an award-winning British film, television and video game composer who has composed music for various entries in the Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Command & Conquer, Wing Commander, Warhammer and Grand Prix series' of games.-Career:Notable early game credits of Hannigan...

, music group Visual Music Incorporated, and Digital Anvil's musician Andrew Sega
Andrew Sega
Andrew Gregory Sega , also known by the moniker Necros, is an American musician best known for tracking modules in the 1990s demoscene as well as for composing music for several well-known video games...

, it includes a bonus DVD that contains the game's alternative introduction movies, concept art, scripts, and deleted content. Communities of Freelancer players banded together to produce modified versions
Mod (computer gaming)
Mod or modification is a term generally applied to personal computer games , especially first-person shooters, role-playing games and real-time strategy games. Mods are made by the general public or a developer, and can be entirely new games in themselves, but mods are not standalone software and...

 of the game. Their software modifications included new ships—including big capital ships—for players to fly and new factions for them to join. Certain modifications allowed the players to fly ships of one franchise against another, for example, Star Wars
Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera film series created by George Lucas. The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year...

versus Wing Commander. The communities also worked around the loss of the global server, allowing players to host the modified games on their servers and continuing the Freelancer multiple-player online gaming world.


Chris Roberts is highly regarded in the field of spaceflight combat simulators due to his successful Wing Commander franchise. When the industry learned that he was creating a new spaceflight combat simulator, they paid close attention to it. In its first public showing at E3 1999, Roberts's Freelancer won four Game Critics Awards
Game Critics Awards
The Game Critics Awards are a set of annual awards held after the E3 video game conference since 1998. The awards are given to products displayed at E3 with the title Best of E3 of their category. The nominees and winners of the awards are chosen by individual judges representing 35 major North...

, including Best Game of the Show. Journalists at one of the game's later showings queued up to 90 minutes to catch a glimpse of a half-hour demonstration. Computer Gaming World
Computer Gaming World
Computer Gaming World was a computer game magazine founded in 1981 by Russell Sipe as a bimonthly publication. Early issues were typically 40-50 pages in length, written in a newsletter style, including submissions by game designers such as Joel Billings , Dan Bunten , and Chris Crawford...

, trusting Roberts's vision, named Freelancer as a game that would revolutionize the gaming industry. Shortly after the game was released, IGN
IGN is an entertainment website that focuses on video games, films, music and other media. IGN's main website comprises several specialty sites or "channels", each occupying a subdomain and covering a specific area of entertainment...

 called it the Game of the Month. Early in the game's development, the industry was enthusiastic about the prospect of playing in a world that changes without player interaction (a dynamic world), although there was caution over the possibility of such implementation with contemporary technology. Delays in the schedule and Microsoft's take over of Digital Anvil gave rise to speculation that Roberts's most promised feature—the dynamic world—would be cut.

The concerns were partially realized; the features, although not cut, were reduced, leaving Freelancer with a virtual world that did not live up to the industry's expectations. It presented a static galaxy, where territories of various factions never change despite the groups' frequent raids and attacks on each other, and commodity prices remain fixed. Nonetheless, reviewers from video game sites, such as Eurogamer
Eurogamer is a Brighton-based website focused on video games news, reviews, previews and interviews. It is operated by Eurogamer Network Ltd., which was formed in 1999 by brothers Rupert and Nick Loman. Eurogamer has grown to become one of the most important European-based websites focused on...

 and GameSpy
GameSpy Industries, Inc., known simply as GameSpy, is a division of IGN Entertainment, which operates a network of game websites and provides online video game-related services and software. GameSpy dates back to the 1996 release of an internet Quake server search program named QSpy. The current...

, accepted the limitations and focused on other areas of the game. They found the lack of variety a greater detraction from the game than the compromised dynamic world. Excluding the single-player campaign, players never meet any memorable NPC; almost everyone sounds American. According to Game Nation TV, after playing for a while, every character and place looked similar to the extent that the game makes "Star Trek look like a xenomorphic zoo". Furthermore, instead of serving as entertainment, the missions, which entail the pilot to fly to a particular location and destroy the enemies there, are so repetitive that they become chores to the reviewers instead.

Freelancers graphics software was of older technology, but it did not detract from FiringSquad's praise of the game's artistic quality. The beautiful and realistic depictions of the universe impressed other reviewers, such as and the Stratos Group. IGN, in particular, was enamored with the game's graphics, describing them as "simply gorgeous" with the best explosions and enormous ships. The mouse-and-keyboard flight control was praised by the industry. Several reviewers found it easy to shoot down enemy ships with the intuitive controls, but others pointed out that aerobatic maneuvers, such as jinking or barrel rolls
Aileron roll
The Aileron Roll is an aerobatic maneuver in which the aircraft does a full 360° revolution about its longitudinal axis. When executed properly, there is no appreciable change in altitude and the aircraft exits the maneuver on the same heading as it entered...

, cannot be performed, reducing dogfights to overly simplistic and repetitive "chase or be chased" sequences that pale in comparison to the action in other spaceflight simulators.

On the story side, reviewers agreed the professional actors, such as Ian Ziering, did a good job in bringing their respective characters to life. However, criticism was placed on the lone voice who voiced all the generic male encounters for his monotonous delivery and making all his characters sound alike. The long cutscenes, which cannot be skipped, frustrated game journalist Tom Chick
Tom Chick
Tom W. Chick is an American television and movie actor, and independent journalist. His most prominent TV roles were as Oscar's lover Gil in the US version of The Office, and the hard-hitting reporter Gordon in The West Wing. As a writer, Tom has contributed to many current and past video game...

; he wanted to skip the scenes and continue playing instead of being forced to watch a clichéd story. Other reviewers expressed their own frustrations with the story, such as being forced to move to another star system at undesired times, or leaving them without an objective after the campaign abruptly ended.

FiringSquad said Freelancers multiplayer mode encapsulated the "best and worst of [the game] in a nutshell": although players can move their characters anywhere, group with others for missions, and trade ships and equipment, they have very little else to do in the unchanging virtual galaxy. Despite these limitations, Stratos Group said the joy of playing with real-life counterparts is a positive factor; the NPC pilots are so inept that human-controlled pilots outperform them most of the time. However, as the missions are practically the same, IGN and questioned the point of playing them repeatedly with friends. Furthermore, IGN thought it was meaningless to amass wealth and higher-grade equipment when they cannot be transferred to other servers. The lack of substance and repetitiveness led the gaming site to wonder how long Freelancer can be viable as a commercial multiplayer product. Whereas massively multiplayer online games such as EverQuest
EverQuest, often shortened to EQ, is a 3D fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game that was released on the 16th of March, 1999. The original design is credited to Brad McQuaid, Steve Clover, and Bill Trost...

have thousands of players in a vast playing area, Freelancer can accommodate only up to 128; the loneliness of playing in such a sparsely populated virtual world gave UGO concern as well over the longevity of Freelancers multiplayer mode.

Overall, reviewers acknowledged Freelancer fell short of the promises initially made by Roberts; however, it demonstrated a high quality of work in its implemented features. The various concepts were well meshed together to form an entertaining product. It never broke or raised the bar of its genre, but boasted a high production value, and has been said to be well worth the money. The game, however, was an anti-climax for those who were hooked by the touted and promised initial concepts, many of which were never realized. Freelancer was a "hugely ambitious game", as admitted by Chris Roberts, for a company to develop without the necessary capital and resources.

External links

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