It may be hard to believe but Freelancer has made it out of development. After over five years and who knows how many changes, it's finally released and is well worth the wait. Although there are parts of the game we might have liked to see expanded further, the overall experience is outstanding. From the control system to the ability to explore the universe, Freelancer successfully brings together a number of different gameplay components that can be difficult to combine. For those that have been waiting for the next decent space sim, your wait is over.
Freelancer is a space sim that takes a number of risks and manages to capitalize on them. One of the more significant risks is the control system. Based on the mouse and keyboard instead of a joystick, I had a number of initial concerns as to why this approach was chosen. Those concerns were quickly put to rest once the game got off the ground. For basic flying, the mouse does the steering and main firing while the keyboard is used for the majority of other options. In addition, it doubles up many of the commands also available using the mouse interface which allows users to select their preference. The mouse can be released from flying to interact with the interface and opens the controls up to a smooth and straightforward system. There are a number of options on the interface that can be accessed easily using this approach that a joystick wouldn't have allowed. It's surprising how well this actually works, as the your desires for a joystick-based control system will dissipate quickly once the advantages of the mouse interface are realized.
In addition to the control system, the large size of Freelancer was also a risk as most games have difficulty making the area usable and not so open ended its difficult to figure out where you are. Freelancer does a great job of different areas having unique cultures and politics so flying into a new area does keep the game from becoming stale. Even while playing through the missions, it's encouraged to go exploring to find freelance jobs with little limitation on where or how far you go.
One of the reasons the game works as well as it does is the graphics. As long as your video card and computer meet the requirements, you'll be treated to some great eye candy. Everything from ship design to explosions looks fantastic with battle damage on the ships thrown in to top it off. The audio also performs well and although not spectacular, it won't distract from the gameplay with plenty of sound effects and decent voiceovers.
For any fans of space sims, this isn't one you'll want to pass up. With a smooth control system, well designed game structure, and first-rate graphics, obvious time and effort was put into this game that will keep you occupied for some time.