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Freaky Creatures will surely be the hottest thing to hit the gaming shelves when it is released, and we were lucky enough to be able to give it a try while it is still in Beta testing.
I didn't have a clue what Freaky Creatures was and had never heard of it, but my 8 year old son was bursting with excitement when he received the starter pack, a fairly large blister pack containing two action figurines plus everything we needed to get started with the game. This is a fabulous marketing plan, as I know how much these collectible toys appeal to young boys! The toys come with a code on a card, which unlocks the creatures within the game. Add-on packs will also be available, each with one creature and extra powers. Other items are unlockable in the game itself.
While installing the program I would recommend a quick look at the FAQ on the Freaky Creatures website, especially if you are new to MMO games as I am. At first glance I admit to being slightly overwhelmed by the potential size of the game and the website community, but as usual my son just jumped in straight away and didn't worry about anything!
Unsurprisingly, the first step in the game is to create your creature. You have a basic body shape and can then modify your monster with different horns, tails, and equipment, all of which have different powers. After that you can also assign up to five extra powers, which provide an additional step in the battle environment. These characteristics can be edited at any time, which is good.
Great simple gameplay on one level, with huge potential to collect, expand, build, chat, and take your Freaky Creature whichever way suits you.
Once you have your Creature, you are pretty much ready to go out to the online arenas and battle, as winning duals with other creatures is the way to level up, as well as earn credits to buy additional creature modifications in the store.
The battles themselves are built on the classic Pokemon 'scissor, paper, stone' turn based fights. You and your opponent choose from head, tail, body, left arm or right arm to make your attack, then one of you will win or lose according to predetermined percentages. After you've seen the initial move, you can then apply one of your powers as well, either to minimise damage to your own monster, or to attack them further, according to which way the battle is going and which powers you have available!
It took us a couple of battles lost to work out what we were really doing, but after that we were away, and even I got excited when we won our first fight! We found it annoying a couple of times when other players dropped out of battles part-way through, but I guess that is always a risk with online games. Luckily, your character can be annihilated during a battle but can go on to fight another one with full health again, you simply don't gain any experience points for a loss, so you can learn how to play without worrying about damaging your Creature. Wins, however, lead to experience points and credits to spend in the store.
In addition to creating and changing your Creature and its characteristics, you can also make your Creature a Lair to live in, and this is fully customisable with items bought from the store. You can also buy your Creature its very own pet, and these become involved in battles in the later levels.
Backstage, there is a large and well kept community website including a forum as well as leaderboards, personal pages, team pages, and tournaments to take part in, and these have exclusive prizes available to win. I imagine that these will be more for the hardcore gamer, while younger players will simply be happy to access the main game and enjoy playing there - this versatility is likely to make the game a huge hit, as it will appeal across age and ability levels. There is also a good FAQ and support section - I needed some help with an issue during setup and found the customer service team to be quick and helpful, even pre-release, which is a good sign, in my opinion.
The game will have a subscription fee to pay in order to access the online features of the game. If you don't choose to subscribe you can still collect the toys, and battle monsters in offline mode, but the whole experience is really designed to take in the online mode. At present the game is only available on PC, although it is due to be developed for mobile phones as well, allowing you to battle on the go. The Mac version of the game is also in the pipeline.
To me, this game is Neopets meets Pokemon. Great simple gameplay on one level, with huge potential to collect, expand, build, chat, and take your Freaky Creature whichever way suits you. Definitely worth a look, and you will undoubtedly get sucked in!
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