Title: The Realm
Strap: It’s freeeee, to do whatever it wants. Except be any good.
The internet is infamous for its threats against so many mediums. The music industry, Hollywood, and Post Office are all suffering through various online specialities that both save us money, and time. But surely the bods responsible for packaging and distributing your favourite PC games are safe? …Of course they’re not.
Codemasters’ The Realm is downloaded directly from their website (www.realmserver.com) and then yours to play. No trip to the shops, no online ordering, but just one 25 meg download. Not only that, but they’ll also give you one month’s play for free, before asking of you a charge of $4.95 a month.
So this all sounds rather good. But as you will already know, there’s a catch…
It’s rubbish. Imagine a watered down mix of Everquest and Ultima Online, with horribly dated 2D cartoon graphics, and an interface more fiddly than teenage boy watching a Brittany Spears video…
The first blow arrives in its 640x480 resolution. There’s no nice screen adjusting .bat file here, instead you have to resize your desktop yourself until the icons are the size of a child’s head. Then once it’s running the irritations hit thick and fast. Here’s just one: The inventory window is a very small fixed size, with only a small amount of the contents visible. But you are often required to use two items together, and if they don’t fall into the window together, then tough. To put my apple in my bag I have to drop the bag, drop the apple, then pick them both up and then drag the apple over the bag. I don’t want to do that.
But this is all small-fry compared to the feeling of abandonment at the very start. There’s no handy tuition, no helpful friend, and no immediate quest. It isn’t until a few hours of play that you realise that this is because there isn’t really anything to do. The online advantages are almost completely ignored, meaning it is left as a very average RPG of daisy-chained ‘fetch-me-this’ quests, that requires an internet connection for no real reason.
Although UO and Everquest still require a trip to the shops and are more
expensive to play, you really do get what you pay for. Realm is wishy-washy and
average and not really worth worrying about.
Verdict: There’s is no such thing as a free lunch. The Realm is barely a free snack.