Review: Real Life, A Gamer’s Perspective
Written by Dave ‘Milbo’ Milner
Whether I like it or not, Real Life is the game I spend most of my time playing. It’s a massively-multiplayer-first-person-action/adventure-role-playing-puzzle-sim-game (or MMFPAARPPSG for short), with an emphasis on realism and the mundane. It bears a passing resemblance to The Sims, but is considerably less accessible. Although this type of game probably isn’t for everyone, Real Life is certainly worth a look.
Despite being a clearly a multi-faceted game, the primary focus of Real Life is the daily ‘grind’, which sees you work to level up your finances and XP. This is done through a series of tasks which include ‘jobs’, ‘school’ or ‘university’. While the quest design can become dull (I’m still waiting on the dragon slaying missions), the repetition serves to make the great moments all the more engaging. Breaking up the monotony are genuinely fun sections that include: sunny days at the beach, nights out with friends, new albums by favourite bands, and clever instances when you get to play other games, like Crysis 2 and Mass Effect.
However, the biggest selling point of Real Life is choice. Important decisions you make have consequences, both good and bad, that can last for a very long time. There is no ‘new game’ function and, much like Resident Evil on the 3DS, you cannot erase your save data (on a side note, you are no longer required to sleep at your local inn in order to save anymore – a seriously uninviting prospect in my neighbourhood). You must live with your decisions. Sometimes, this can be quite confronting.
As an example, after playing for 27 years, the fear that I’ve been levelling up wrong, placing attribute points in ineffectual skill trees, has crept upon me. While ‘history degree’ initially seemed like a powerful ability with its ‘+10 dinner party bonus’ and the ability to put enemies into a stupor-like-trance, I’m beginning to doubt that it will help me achieve my ultimate goal of becoming the first man to walk on Mars. Nailing down a focus is a must in this game. Similarly, my ‘slightly above average soccer player’ and ‘Simpsons quote master’ sustained-abilities aren’t the game changer I’d hoped when I invested all those hours unlocking them.
Real Life is also plagued with buggy AI. If you’ve arranged to meet a character at a particular time they’re often inexplicably late. The trains never seem to arrive when they should (this game could do with a fast travel system), and for some reason, the tall NPC’s with bushy hair always gravitate to the front rows at the various concerts and films you can attend, making the beautiful HD graphics pointlessly obscured. With the camera fixed in the first person perspective there is unfortunately no way around this.
The game runs smoothly for the most part. The high frame rate and first person perspective brings the Call of Duty series to mind, though hopefully the comparisons end there. I also can’t see Real Life being anywhere near as popular.
I’m intrigued where this game will take me but I’m also somewhat daunted by the play time. With a campaign potentially stretching 85+ years it’s hard to imagine how the world will look towards the endgame (casual gamers be warned!). The amazing graphics and sound are let down somewhat by the main characters lack of direction, questionable AI and repetitive quest design. These will no doubt be addressed in the yearly updates Activision intend to publish. I give Real Life a 4 out of 5. It’s good, but Mass Effect is better.
(Note: for the review scores, I’ve taken ‘combat’ to mean ‘overly aggressive indoor soccer matches’, of which I’m not a fan)