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Game Reviewed: RuneScape
Publisher: Jagex Ltd.
Developer: Jagex Ltd.
Category: Fantasy MMORPG
ESRB Rating: None (Recommended by Jagex for ages 12+)
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(Reviewer’s Note: Runescape is a very large world that is meant to be played in over a period of months possibly years. Due to time constraints this review only covers content the reviewer encountered during his time with the game.)
MMORPG games have found a suitable niche for themselves in the gaming market over the past few years. Even if you are not a gamer, you have probably heard of games such as World of Warcraft or Star Trek Online. MMORPG stands for “Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.” The attributes that stretch across every game in this genre are these: you create a character, choose certain skills for him, level up those skills to use them, and interact with other players. This is a good place to start for Runescape as well.
While Runescape has no all encompassing story arc, each individual quest contains some type of story. The requirements to complete the quest are directly related to the story behind it. For example:
At the beginning of the game the player is trapped in a dungeon. A dragon pokes his head around the corner and begins to invade. Thankfully there is a wall there for protection and a knight arrives to ward off the dragon. This gives the player time to find some armor and figure out a way to defeat the dragon. By finding some explosives and using some clever thinking, the player will be able to defeat the dragon, escape the dungeon and begin his adventure.
Another example of a quest is that the player will encounter poor Romeo who has lost his dear Juliet. Romeo requests the player’s assistance to which the player can decide to help or decline. If the player decides to help, the player must find Juliet and devise a way for her and Romeo to be together. This will lead to an adventure over quite a bit of the Runescape world as the player will interact with other people, find a potion, go to a church and then finally return to Romeo. All of the quests follow this basic formula of short story, completing required tasks, completing the mission, rinse and repeat.
Runescape is hailed by Guinness World Records as the world's most popular MMORPG. Unlike other MMORPGs, Runescape is completely free, and will run in your Internet browser. No installations, no pesky monthly fees; just boot it up and begin your adventure. All you need is a profile and custom character to get you started.
What Parents Need to Know
There is quite a bit of combat in Runescape. The player will fight goblins, spiders, giant scorpions and some humans just to name a few of the foes that must be faced. Violence in Runescape, however, is free of blood and gore. When an enemy is killed, they merely fall to the ground and quickly disappear.
Violence is also portrayed is some of the landscape's imagery. For example, walls and fences in the Goblin village are adorned with skulls. There is also an area in the game that contains skeletons strapped to tables, and dismembered (supposedly sentient) hands crawling around on the floor. The graphics, however, lean more towards the side of cartoonish rather than realistic.
Some violence occurs more subtly than with typical weapons. For example, one quest requires the player to bring a potion to a woman only to discover that the potion has been tainted and is actually meant to kill her.
I did not come across any foul language while playing through the quests I worked on for this review. It is possible, however, to talk with other human players through the game's typed chat. The game developers have set up chat filters to keep players from using bad language. They must work pretty well because I did not encounter any other players using bad language.
Female characters in the game can wear outfits that reveal quite a bit of midriff and leg. A barbarian village contains such outfits, and some of the men are shirtless.
As the character's skills progress in the game, it is possible to use rudimentary magic. This includes use of potions and objects that will allow the player to send fireballs and other magical objects towards enemies. There are also wizards throughout the world of Runescape.
There are a number of monasteries and churches throughout the game, as well as priests and monks. A doomsayer stands at a few corners proclaiming the end of the world. A man says he is meditating. A certain quest requires that you fight and defeat a skeleton warlock.
When the player “dies” in the game, he is transported to a large room. The Grim Reaper sits at a desk, and talks about what just happened. He explains that dying in Runescape is not like dying elsewhere, thus he gives the player another chance at life and transports him back to the “main” part of the world.
Poltergeists roam the halls of a haunted house. A certain quest gives you a ghostspeak amulet, which, as the name implies, allows the player to speak with ghosts. One ghost is particularly distraught because his skull is missing from his coffin. He was attacked by a goblin warlock and cannot rest in peace until his skull is back in place.
There are taverns in the game in which the player can buy beer and other alcoholic beverages. One quest requires smuggling rum off of an island.
There is an area called the Dual Arena that allows gambling.
Overall, Runescape was an interesting game. I would not quite put it in my favorites, but for a free competitor to World of Warcraft, I found it to be a lot of fun? The quests were interesting and the world was indeed massive. I did appreciate certain aspects of the game playing experience. Because of Jagex's rules, it was relatively clean and enjoyable to play with fellow Runescape members. Some of our readers may find objections to the spiritual content of the game and if you fall into that category then I recommend passing on Runescape. If you do not find the above content objectionable, however, one thing that The Source for Parents does recommend is that parents set up time limits for play as MMORPG games like Runescape can be very addicting.