The Debut Of Parkour MMOs
Gamer Kraft, Game Bridger Entertainment and Wise On Software have accomplished a milestone in the world of free-to-play MMOs, they’ve introduced gamers into a genre of gaming that could very well change the face of next generation online action titles with a parkour MMO.
That’s right, the name of the game is FreeJack and it’s a parkour-style MMO that sees gamers running, jumping, dodging, flipping, and cross-hopping across objects, under objects, over obstacles and through any and everything that could possibly stand in the way of securing victory. The game is a grand achievement in doing something wholly original and unique in the online gaming arena, rivaled only by the distant likes of gPotato’s fairytale-based third-person MMO racing title, Tales Runner.
Keep reading this FreeJack preview to find out what the game has to offer and how it plays out.
Nothing Can Stand In Your Way
FreeJack is currently (as of the writing of this preview) going through the standard closed beta testing, however, the game will continue to be free-to-play once it hits open beta. The main goal of the game sees players being able to choose between a handful of various pre-made characters and then entering the main game hub to either do story-based missions or participate in versus matches.
The one thing that gamers might notice right from the start is that the visuals, themes and even the soundtrack is strangely very reminiscent to Sega and SmileBit’s famously underground racer, Jet Set Radio Future. More than anything, the game seems to pay homage to Smilebit’s classic graffiti racer in a number of ways, and that’s definitely a good thing.
How Do You Parkour?
One of the things you might question is how on earth will parkour work in an MMO racing setting? Will it be like Assassin’s Creed with various open-world segments and objectives or is it setup like Mirror’s Edge where there are destination-based priorities to complete? Strangely, it’s like neither game.
The funny thing about FreeJack is that it’s its own game and borrows from nothing of the aforementioned games. Instead, the game uses race-track style scenarios with laps that players complete. Oddly enough, this design setup seems to work well. As of the writing of this preview there doesn’t appear to be any point-to-point maps but that could change in future iterations of the game.
A Little Bit Of Timing Makes All The Difference
Much like Audition, the rhythm-based MMO from RedBana, there are segments in which timing and some button mashing are required to successfully win a match or complete a scenario. Littered throughout each race track is a series of obstacles, very reminiscent to the likes of Jet Set Radio, where long pipes or beams can be grinded (with shoes, yes) and any pole, ladder or rope can be climbed.
Stationary obstacles like boxes, cars or trucks can be overcome in a number of ways, which is what truly makes the game unique. There’s only three main buttons to press in addition to the directional keys, and that’s “Space” (for jumping, hopping or performing any sort of parkour-like action), “Shift (for sliding around tight corners) and the ‘A’ button (for activating special item bonuses).
The main button that gamers will rely on is the “Spacebar” as it will allow for all the fancy parkour moves to be performed. When pressing the key at certain times at various distances to an object, the character will perform a daring maneuver to overcome the obstacle. It’s really awesome because depending on the position of the character or the distance in which the key is pressed determines how quickly they hop or climb and how well they recover on the landing.
The Matrix Steps Outside The Computer…Sort Of
You don’t have to “jack in” to perform awesome Matrix-esque maneuvers in FreeJack. The game allows players to run on walls for a brief period of time (and in special segments), leap from wall-to-wall under certain conditions or fall from a high distance and recover with a dynamic roll. There’s no mental mind-warping going on like the Matrix films and games, so everything these characters do stay within the confines of the game’s context.
In conjunction with performing all this high-tech moves, players will be rewarded bonus power-ups based on a rating system of each parkour move performed. “Perfects” are the highest a player can receive on the rating system and four Perfect combos results in a max speed boost and instant bonus power-up items that can be used to further sustain speed or to trip up opponents who are ahead or behind.
The power up and stunt rating system is a great way to mix up the gameplay and add some unpredictable depth to each race.
Earning Rep In Versus Matches
As mentioned earlier in the preview, the game offers a variety of modes and ways to earn credits, which is called “Jack” in the game. In the starter channels there are a few story missions that can be performed under three different difficulty settings that allow players to earn extra credits and experience points. In the versus modes there are item-based and speed-based racing options so players who don’t want to get hit with a debuff from another player or trip over a mine can do so with the no-item speed mode.
Whether doing speed runs or item runs, the game offers team-based modes for players who like to tag team during a race, as well as flag modes to mix up some of the playing options or earn extra Jack.
Looking Snazzy In Hip Gear
Earning credits are used for a variety of activities in the game, including buying new clothes or fixing up the player-designated apartment. Yes, each player has their very own apartment that works as the hosting hub whenever that player creates a room. Anyone who joins the room can relax on a couch, catch some TV or look out the window and soak in a view. All the items and customization features for the apartment must be unlocked and works as a great way for players to socialize in style, ala The Sims.
In addition to decorating the apartment room there is a number of clothing options and accessories available for each character in the game. Players can alter the character’s appearance with face accessories, hats, hair, shirts, pants, shoes, gloves, tattoos and more.
The Future Of MMO Racing Games
Hopefully FreeJack isn’t just another flash in the pan. The game shows tons of promise and has a lot going for it given the fact that there are already a limited number of MMO racing games on the market and absolutely no racing games that distinctly focus on parkour (as of the writing of this preview).
It’s also nice that games such as Assassin’s Creed and Mirror’s Edge have helped pave a way for games like this and it’s awesome that Game Bridger and Gamer Kraft have introduced a free-to-play MMO based on parkour to the gaming world. While some of the features and accessories are in limited quantity at this time, the game should prove to be very interesting as the developers add in more maps, clothing options and characters.
You can learn more about FreeJack by visiting the Official Website.