If you enjoy traveling but you’re on a strict budget, you can immerse yourself in one of hundreds of free games on the Internet. Free-to-play massively multiplayer online (MMO) games are often as deep and engaging as full-priced retail games, and they come in all kinds of flavors. Part two of our guide to MMO games offers recommendations for enjoyable titles in the Racing/Sports, Simulation, and Kids/Family genres.
TOP 5 FREE RACING/SPORTS MMOs
Quick Hit Football — A web-based MMO for football enthusiasts. Players manage and coach their teams, then pit their stable of hulking warriors against other players’ teams. The warrior metaphor is accurate: You can earn quality gear to better equip your players, and you can train them in hopes that they’ll cease disappointing you time and time again.
Need for Speed: World — Play around in a world where the car is king. Build up a worthwhile ride, then grind it to the ground through illegal racing and high-speed police chases. You and up to three other players can also participate in “Team Escape,” which is a cop-dodging race between cars. For added fun, picture steam shooting out of the cops’ ears.
RayCity — RayCity is a racing MMO with lots of single-player missions for those of us who lapse into a lone-wolf mood every so often. Of course, competitive racing still forms the core of the game: Up to 20 competitors can race at a time, and there are plenty of tracks to choose from.
Drift City — Drift City illustrates that car-based MMO’s don’t necessarily have to stay away from storytelling, though its story is admittedly a little goofy (you, and other players, must help tame an outbreak of unmanned vehicles that seemingly ache to smear humans across the pavement). While Drift City boasts lots of racing and competition, there’s also a great deal of exploration and questing.
Shot Online — A golf MMO. Shot Online features detailed, 3D graphics, character leveling, and a large community. You’ll also have the opportunity to engage in quests, like “Retrieve your ball from the gator-infested water trap.” Well, maybe not. Regardless, Shot Online is an unorthodox golf experience that goes beyond the green and the rough.
TOP 5 FREE SIMULATION MMOs
Navyfield — Navyfield is a nautical MMO that takes place on the battle-tossed seas of World War II. You command one of over a hundred WW II-era vessels, and orchestrate massive attacks against other players. You can choose to fight for the Allies, or the Axis. Each country boasts its own strengths and weaknesses.
Skyrama — If you don’t like getting your feet wet, consider taking to the skies with Skyrama, an airport-management MMO. Not surprisingly, managing an airport is a bit too much work for one person, so it’s best you get your friends to play along and help you organize flights, cargo, and air shows.
Air Rivals 3D — Or, if you prefer a little more aggression in the friendly skies, you can sign up with Air Rivals 3D, a 3D MMO flight shooter. Select your bird and shoot down a looming alien menace.
CivWorld — CivWorld is an online take on Sid Meier’s famous Civilization simulation franchise. CivWorld, designed by Meier himself, adds social and MMO elements to the gameplay you already love.
Space Invasion — Space Invasion is a strategy MMO game that lets you build up your own empire (talk about making use of the freezing vaccuum of space). You can build up a fleet, gather resources, conquer enemy worlds, and perform other war-like activities. Interesting how space-oriented games are never about collecting daises on alien planets.
TOP 5 FREE KIDS/FAMILY MMOs
Wizard 101 — Step aside, Harry Potter: Wizard 101 is an MMO game that casts players as students of the magic arts. Students can choose to align themselves with one of several schools, including Ice, Fire, Storm, Life, Myth, Balance, and Death (which is where the “troubled kids” go).
Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures – A Star Wars MMO that’s based around the popular animated “Clone Wars” universe. Players get to engage in training, tool around with mini-games, fly in space battles, and even pick up a pet droid. With any luck, you might meet Anakin, and he might even see fit to give you the time of day.
Free Realms — Sony’s Free Realms is a highly successful kids’ MMO that lets you explore a full 3D world. You can also get a cool job, like a pet trainer or a demolition derby driver. It beats the usual options for teenage jobs, which are typically “McDonalds” and “Burger King.”
Moshi Monsters — With Moshi Monsters, you adopt a virtual monster pal and pal around in a cartoon world that’s full of fun games, trivia, and activities. You can also decorate your house and garden to your liking.
Lego Universe — Lego Universe lets you take on the role as the mightiest warrior in recorded human history: The Lego Person. You must travel from one Lego-themed world to another in order to collect items and equip yourself to fight against the malevolent Maelstrom. Needless to say, you can also gather Lego pieces that are used to build up your personal property.