Freelancer is a space flight game. It's not quite a Sim, but it's not arcade. Many people have addressed the No Joystick issue, but let me tell you, it's not an issue. When you hear "Flight game with no Joystick," you probably scoff, but you shouldn't. The game isn't controlled like most other flight games. It's hard to explain, but if you're interested, download the demo and see for yourself. But I will say that given the interface, I don't see how it could have possibly worked using a joystick.
The interface is great by the way. You can see which guns are selected, enemy status, your status, and it all looks nice.
The single player mode has an engaging, interesting storyline. I won't spoil it, but has it's share of twists. The missions are diverse and CHALLENGING. It takes more than a basic understanding of the controls to succeed at them. While not super long, the game takes up a substantial amount of time. Plus, when you're finished, you can roam about the universe completely freely and continue playing with your ship. One thing I should mention, is that by the end of the storyline, you won't have the best ship, guns, or be the highest level. If you want to be the best, you still have work to do. Plus, the story has good replay value, giving you hours upon hours of single player fun.
Multiplayer is possibly even better than the single player. There are many servers to play on. Each server is just a duplication of the same universe as in the singe-player mode. No story, of course, but there are other players to trade and group with, so you can take on missions together.
The game has some RPG elements, but they aren't blatant. You don't earn XP or have skills. You earn money, and when you have a certain amount of Net worth you gain a level. Higher levels allow you to purchase better guns and ships, and you improve by purchasing those and other improvements for your ship. The guns aren't simply on a bad, better, better, basis. Each has advantages and disadvantages, as do ships. Some guns use less, some shoot faster, and some do more damage. There are also significant differences in ships. There are different kind of ships as well, like light fighters, heavy fighters or freighters. Plus, there are missiles, torpedoes and mines to get. You also have access to better shields and thrusters.
Who you can or can't take mission from depends on a great reputation system. Kill a certain type of guy, and they won't like you. Your reputation also greatly affects where it is safe to go and how you travel. If you're bad with the police, you'll have to take jump holes instead of the registered jump gates. And some systems you'll get murdered in if you don't have a good enough rep.
You can make money by many different ways. You can buy and sell goods from bases, or you could be a pirate and loot other trading vessels and sell that. Or you can take missions, which there are several different types of.
You should also know that there is a substantial mod community for this game. You can download new guns, new ships, new parts, mods that change your speed, or enemies, or reputation. It's great, and they're easy to use, too.
The universe you're in is huge, and they actually managed to make outer space diverse from place to place.
The graphics really depend on your computer. You can change the graphics settings to accommodate most computers, and the lowest to highest settings have a wide range of beauty, from "Look, I'm in space." to Awe-inspiring "WOW, I had no idea space was so pretty."
The only downside to this game is that when you're at the top, there's not much to do, except start over. In single or multi player, it's not too hard to get to a point where you have the best ship and guns, and millions of dollars, and nothing to spend it on. But starting a new character always lets the game play keep flowing.
I love this game, and I recommend it to anyone who's even remotely interested in a space flight game.
Go to The Freelancer Community for up-to-date information on the game and to answer any questions you might have related to it.