Anyone Playing Air Rivals?

I’ve been playing a bunch of free MMOs recently, including Air Rivals. This one seems fairly unique given that it’s actually somewhere in the smoky realm between Starfox and Lineage II… (Can there really be such a genre overlap?)

What’s perhaps all the more surprising is that it’s a free Korean-type micropayment-funded MMO, and I’m actually fairly impressed with it. While the game is distinctly loot-grindy, there’s also a great big PvP war thing going on and, well, I’m just a sucker for those. Real time combat too… it’s as if people are finally trying to do something different in MMO-land. Ooh, all these free games have got me pumped up. Hell, I might even have another crack at free robo-MMO, Exteel. Maybe. If I can invent a machine that puts thirty-nine hours in every day.

What free game are you playing, readers?


  1. Jeremy says:

    Gonna try out air rivals now…the concept seems cool. No other free games after I’ve torn myself away from Dwarf Fortress. I can never play that again, lest I get completely sucked in…again.

  2. Crabbs says:

    Kingdom Of Loathing — it’s the perfect MMO: funny, polished, and with a hard limit to how much time you can spend on it per day, thank God. And pretty bloomin’ bandwidth-economical.

  3. DSX says:

    Air Rivals looks cool, might give it a try once I get the replay of stalker sorted out. Still active in Perfect World, a pay for perks cut-down version of AION.

  4. cullnean says:

    how big a download?

    and whats the social side like?

  5. Chris says:

    I stopped playing when I got to the “kill 60 of x” (and it was the only thing you could do) missions. Then I remembered why I don’t play free MMO’s. Otherwise, I liked the Starfox’ish gameplay.

  6. Kazz says:

    @ cullnean, 1.4gig client, torrent is very well seeded, got it in about 20mins

  7. Ross says:

    @Jeremy: There’s a rare new release of Dwarf Fortress today or tomorrow! :D

    On topic, I might have to actually try this thanks to the Starfoxishness…

  8. gnome says:

    Jet Set Willy Online!

  9. Snarf says:

    Never really get into free MMO’s. I fell that since im paying for one, I really should put time into that one. That and EVE is taking up alot of time due to taking part in a little operation thats been going on over the past week *winks*

  10. Redford says:

    This game used to be run under the name “Space cowboy online”. Regardless, it’s a great game. Combine free flight action gaming with an MMO and you end up with one of the most creative games in a long time.

    Unsure about balance in this version. In the old one, missiles were grossly overpowered (I was in the flying tank and had absurd amounts of defenses and still very high level people could deal over 10,000 in one salvo and kill me in one go.)

  11. maniacator says:

    I heard that a lot people had some bad experiences with that free asia games concerning loosing accounts, especially with high level charakters. So perhaps one might have to check up forums of that games to proove this….
    Nevertheless, Air Rivals looks pretty cool. But I’am afraid that I first have to finish all medals in “Trackmania Nations Forever” which is one of the best actual free games imho!

  12. Jae Armstrong says:

    Is… is that a flying aircraft carrier?

    Currently I’m playing… nothing. EVE account expired, had coursework deadlines… which are now past. Must rectify this.

  13. El Stevo says:

    “it’s as if people are finally trying to do something different in MMO-land”

    Finally? Hasn’t this been around for a while? I knew a guy who used to play it a couple of years ago.

  14. James G says:

    Another Dwarf Fortress player here, at the moment I’m commencing riskier and riskier projects in an attempt to get my fortress to fall before I update.

  15. Riotpoll says:

    If as Redord says it is what “Spacecowboy Online” used to be, I tried it a long time ago (2 years I think). Was good for 10 hours or so I think, then I got bored.

  16. heliocentric says:

    trackmania nations certainly, but if ad supported counts i’ve been playing deus ex on game tap, along side a few others like rogue trooper and tomb raider legend psyconauts the last of which i’ve not been playing. But it deserves a mention.

  17. Bobsy says:

    The MMO genre needs desperately more sci-fly* type stuff to bounce ideas off Eve with. But… the grindy Korean model makes me uncomfortable. Too repetitive, too dull, too timewastey. Just because a model has been successful doesn’t mean you can’t do something else.


  18. El Stevo says:

    OK, it seems that the company that held the licence for Ace Online (the game’s original title) in Europe and America (among other places), where they renamed it Space Cowboy Online, recently had the contract broken by the developer so that the developer’s new owner could run the service themselves. It’s now known as Ace Online International in America and Air Rivals in Europe. In the furore anyone who held an account in the affected areas lost all their characters and progress. As far as I understand it.

  19. shaven-gopher says:

    Warsow is my free game of choice currently.

  20. Al3xand3r says:

    Meh, free to play (but pay for the full thing) isn’t the same as just free… make different threads for each type/genre if you don’t want this very confusing… I play no free to play MMOs, I don’t see much point to it unless you’re willing to pay for the full featured experience, and if I’m gonna pay there are better MMOs out there…

  21. cyrenic says:

    I’ve been playing the GalCiv2 demo for a couple months now, does that count as a free game? I can’t justify spending $60 for the game + expansions bundle right now, so I’m playing the hell out of the demo getting the basics of the game down. Always a slap in the face when I run out of turns though :D.

  22. Kieron Gillen says:

    As several people have said, the history of this game is… well, all over the place. It’s been released under at least four names under my count.


  23. jackflash says:

    I love this site. Where else could I possibly learn about all these wicked off-the-beaten-path games that I would have never discovered myself? Case in point : Mount and Blade. Never heard of the thing until I was reading an RPS article from a few months ago on Fallout 3. Someone in the comments section mentioned how amazing the game’s mounted combat is. 12 hours later my eyes are bleeding from my inability to stop plowing down infantry with my broadsword and charger and investing in my newly-granted fiefdom. Instant classic. May be the best $25 I’ve spent ever. I should be studying for the bar exam! Fuck! Is it possible we’re entering a new golden age of PC gaming? I haven’t had this much fun since 1999.

  24. jackflash says:

    BTW, will someone teach me how to play Dwarf Fortress. I feel like there could be a college course on it.

  25. cyrenic says:


    I started with these tutorials:

    link to

    link to

    And from there I just read articles on the wiki whenever I had a question about something.

  26. Groglvr says:

    playing gemcraft over at kongregate. that first epic level kicks my tookus. anyone pass that? wave 29 comes out and my gems sit there and act like nothings happening

  27. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Hm, never had that problem Groglvr. They don’t shoot? Sounds like major bug. I’m playing it directly on the Armorgames site and never had the problem there.

    link to

  28. Soundofvictory says:

    Hey, this looks pretty sweet, might check it out. The only f2p game that I really got into was the Battlefield semi rip-off WarRock. But in genuine freegame-land I’ve mostly been playing Nexuiz.

  29. Groglvr says:

    naw they shoot its just that theyre not shooting like a .30 cal minigun w/6000 rpm :p

  30. cullnean says:


    fry cry got it ages ago free with a gfx card and just got round to playing it

  31. jackflash says:

    @ Cyrenic : thanks!

  32. James G says:

    @ Jackflash, be careful downloading the latest version. Its a brand new release today, and as such contains a few show-stopping bugs (most notably the dwarves have the habit of playing Sleeping Beauty and never waking up). You may be better off with the previous version, or waiting a couple of days until the latest version is patched. (DF is stable)

  33. Stella says:

    Albatross18 (link to is still my favorite free online game after 2 years. Anyone remember how fun Mario Golf was for the N64? It’s kind of like that except massively multiplayer with stat tracking, more depth, better graphics, and more than a pinch of Japanese insanity.

  34. teo says:

    I tried this game after reading Kireon’s review, but after playing it for a while I realized it’s just another MMO. The conversations people are having are just the same as in any other MMO. Item x > item y bla bla bla

    The grind is a waste of your life, it really is. It’s so retarded, I find it impossible to justify playing through it to myself

  35. Brent says:

    I’ve been playing Combat Arms lately. It’s an open beta online FPS where you can rank up and buy weapons and stuff. Lots of fun.

  36. Stromko says:

    Combat Arms is decent, less hard-core Counterstrike which I appreciate. War Rock is more of a Battlefield knockoff, with the usual issues (vehicles > infantry).

    Last free game I played (other than Dwarf Fortress) was Dead Frontier. Browser-based zombie MMO essentially, with a graphical top-down shooter as the actual gameplay mechanism. Avoid the real-money ‘Shop’ unless you want to donate since it’s rather overpriced, there’s a huge market on the forums and once you start venturing out 8 or so blocks from the start you’ll find a lot to trade.

  37. sinister agent says:

    Nelly Cootalot, obv.

  38. GothikX says:

    Dungeon Runners provided for a couple hours of mindless fun, but grew tiresome much too quickly. Other than that, I’ve been firing up InstantAction a lot lately, which is kinda surprising, with me being more of an RPG man myself.
    I’ve also tried a few strategy browser games (like OGame) but most, if not all, were not worth it.
    And of course, I still fire up Anarchy Online every now and again – still ‘playing’ the free version after some three years; ‘playing’ is in quotes because I don’t really play much anymore, I just log in to have a chat with old friends and see what’s new and the likes.
    I’ve been meaning to try Exteel but after Dungeon Runners I couldn’t bring myself to. Maybe sometime later. And of course Starfox-y sounds good, but I bet Air Rivals will grow old just as fast. I’ll still try it tho, of course. Just as soon as I get internet at home again.

  39. Corbeaubm says:

    I played Air Rivals for well over a year back when it was Space Cowboy Online. The gameplay is basically the same. Pvp between roughly equal (or up to 5-10 levels different, in most cases) is a great experience, but certain levels are insane power thresholds (78, 86 for B-Gears) that also happen to require incredible grind time to attain. There is also zero entertainment to be found in grinding: all mobs follow the same simple patterns and merely upgrade their damage and health as levels increase. Nor are there many choices to be made on your character/gear – your main choice comes when you create the character, and it plays basically the same once you acquire the gear’s skills.

    I wish that someone would make a non-MMO version of Air Rivals. Now THAT would be a game.

  40. Saykia says:

    There is also Global ACE Onlines the official international version of the game too. =)

  41. Garuda says:

    I played this game for 3 days now. As GothikX says, that it gets old really fast, I’m beginning to feel the truth of his comment. Levelling up here takes a LONG TIME. Take for instance, a quest where you have to shoot down 60 monsters. If your are weapons are pathetic, then shooting down these suckers will take FOREVER. And worse, you have to accumulate some cash to get more fancy stuff to customize your gear. That means more grinding time, and more monsters to kill.

    But hey, I still like pimping up my i-gear.

  42. Acuai says:

    where can i find this torrent? any other client mirror site for this game?
    -i downloaded the games client…corrupted file included. :(
    —-> client download site pls.. any1.

  43. Acuai says:

    -oh oh…last thread was august 24.. :O

  44. Acuai says:

    …make that 23. oops. :)

  45. BradleyAPC says:

    This is a good game but once you reach 60~80 it takes weeks even month to level depending on what kind of a grinder you are.