Eurogamer has put together a review-ish editorial on RuneScape that ends with the author turning away due to graphic and interface issues, but not before explaining the pros and the cons in-depth.
It seemed like a nice job: to be given the opportunity to write a light-hearted piece on the first steps in the browser-based MMORPG RuneScape - an industry outsider that's quietly the Western world's second most successful MMO. Nip in, work out what everyone loves, hide my conclusions at the end of some miable fluff, and phone my bank to tell them not to be shocked when millions of Eurogamer pounds fly into my account. I'll start with my guesses as to its popularity, then play it.
First, RuneScape is accessible. A Java-based browser application, it'll run equally happily on PC, Mac and the years-old laptop I installed Ubuntu onto for a lark. So kids can play without having to install anything, and even the most restrictive corporate networks will usually allow a nice bit of certified Java.
Secondly, RuneScape is free. Or a slice of it is. Some skills, such as thieving and agility, aren't open to guests, and the majority of quests will be denied anyone logging onto the guest servers.
Finally, RuneScape is everything that seemed amazing in 1990. A year when people would gather around a 386 processor and listen to the latest public-domain MIDI files. When children would stand in plastic tree trunks and pay 15 pounds per hour to wear a cripplingly heavy VR helmet and try to pick up an imaginary key. RuneScape has the strong whiff of the Rogue-like about it - which isn't necessarily a bad thing, when you consider how involved and deep some Rogue-likes can be.