Real Life - Staff Review  

A Real Fantasy Adventure
by Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham

Real Life
Painfully Difficult
0-100 Years
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   Real Life is a game for everyone, like it or not. It can be full of twists and turns, or it can be extremely dull. The choice is yours. Forget MMORPGs, forget games like Oblivion, Real Life is the true customizable experience. But is it really fun? That answer varies by each player.

   Real Life's story varies from person to person. For some people, it's a grand adventure where they meet many exciting new people. Players can get married, have kids, and are even encouraged by the game's social order to obtain and maintain a job. Such jobs available in Real Life include teacher, fast food employee, police officers, janitor, lawyer, and even doctor. Doctors are much like White Mages, as they have healing abilities. However instead of a mana upkeep, they have to worry about a stat called malpractice insurance for when another character's wounds don't heal exactly right. Police officers are basically playable GMs, as they control the law within the game. Sadly, they are limited to bluish cloth armor instead of anything really shiny and cool. Each job plays its own part in Real Life, but much like an MMO, some jobs are less respected than others.

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   Getting married and having kids in Real Life seems like a really interesting feature, but in reality is just causes the player to have to grind more often. Many times the game feels more like work than anything. The leveling system is very different from other RPGs. In Real Life, noobs or low level characters must be cared for by higher level characters until they reach level eighteen or so. At that point, players usually have to train to learn skills for a specific job. Sadly, this often results in many players having to play a role outside of their class within parties, but most adapt.

   There is no specified level cap in Real Life, though it is rare for players to reach much higher than 80 or 90. Also something that sets Real Life apart from most other RPGs is that players tend to max out their stats between levels 25 and 50. After that point, higher level characters often begin to see a decrease in stats as they go up in level. Thankfully, in some of the most recent patches, there have been more and more NPCs that offer procedures and medicine that can make higher level players function like lower level players again, if only for short periods of time. In cases of some of the medicine, it is suggested that players seek out a white mage or doctor if the medicine effects last more than eight hours.

   Unlike other RPGs, the battle system in Real Life is completely optional. Players can play the game without ever doing battle, as levels are gained naturally over time instead of through combat. Many players avoid conflict if possible due to characters not being able to be raised after death. The one-life system makes most players tend to be very cautious before engaging in any kind of combat. One plus of Real Life is that that weapons and equipment are completely customizable. One downside to this is that most all equipment must be bought unless the player either has the appropriate skills to craft the equipment or a matronly higher level player that will knit them ugly wool armor. Creatures tend not to drop weapons or money either, and skinning these animals for their hides usually requires much more than just a simple button click. Boss monsters are not usually fought either, as most players tend to wait for them to either die naturally or to move on to another dungeon.

Real Life Real time weather requires clothing changes

   The visuals in Real Life could be called the most realistic to date. Everything is lifelike. Some character models are extremely beautiful, while others look like they fell off of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. While players have no control over what their character initially looks like, there are many customization options after creation. The explorable world is huge, with each area having its own unique look. The real time weather and temperature effects are a nice touch as well, though some weather effects can be deadly.

   The soundtrack is a bit of a mixed bag. Some areas have no music whatsoever, mostly containing some dull or monotonous sound effects. At times, players can listen to their own custom soundtracks, which is a nice feature. The variety is endless. Voice acting is decent with some voices being pleasant to listen to and others being annoying.

   It is shocking that the media and the ESRB haven't been all over Real Life like they have games such as Mass Effect, as Real Life unfortunately can contain things much worse than "virtual orgasmic rape." Murder and violence are commonplace in Real Life, but on a more positive note, so are more enjoyable things. Players can interact with each other in a variety of way, including developing a romantic relationship with another player. This can involve going on dates, holding hands, and even the very enjoyable mating rituals. Some players will gain access to these mating rituals over time, while others, sadly, have to deal with real money traders. The multiplayer aspect of this game is its biggest selling point and its biggest detractor.

   Overall, Real Life has a huge environment and population along with tons of customizable options. That's grand, because this is not a game one can easily put down whenever you want. It's a constant grind fest at times and can be very challenging. I recommend it to hardcore and intelligent fans only, as this game is more enjoyable without stupid people. Sadly, they cannot always be avoided. All in all, Real Life is what you make of it, but I think many would prefer the Final Fantasy series.

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