Torn City, or just Torn, is a text-based MMORPG that focuses on crime in Torn City, a city riddled with violence and underground dealings. Considered to be a long-term game, Torn allows players to slowly build up their character in whatever fields they choose, from being a drug dealer, or kingpin to business owner; it offers limitless player choices.
|Publisher: Chedburn Networks
Type: Text-based MMORPG
Release Date: November 15, 2004
Pros: +Massive amount of content. +Long term playability. +Active community.
Cons: -Slow pacing. -High learning curve.
Torn (previously known as Torn City) is a free-to-play text-based MMORPG centered crime in the fictional Torn City. One of the primary draws of Torn is the ability to play your character however you desire, with the aim of becoming the best in whatever you choose to specialize in. The game offers a massive variety of actions to take, including selling fake horror DVDs for a quick buck, training in the gym to boost your stats, taking courses to sharpen your ability in subjects like Law or Computer Science, getting employed at a Casino or Grocery Store, and many more. It is considered a long-term game due to its limiting stamina system, that allows players to take a certain amount of actions every day until their energy, life, and nerve refill—which can be supplemented by the game’s newbie instant refills or by premium currency. The game’s premium currency is notable for applying primarily to refilling stamina bars rather than buying overpowered equipment or experience, giving the game a more level playing field between paying and non-paying users. The system fosters a greater sense of competition (and teamwork) making achievements in this game feel like real accomplishments.
Torn Key Features:
- Text-based Gameplay – Access the game anywhere that offers an internet connection, requiring no download or special plugins to play.
- Lots to Master – While not for everyone, the game caters to a hardcore audience of players because it takes patience and skill to succeed.
- Focus on Player Choice – Choose between the seemingly insignificant, from deciding to search for money in a movie theater rather than a dumpster, to increasingly weighted decisions such as stat allocation or your future career.
- Highly Customizable – Pick between three core paths: Fighter, Criminal or Executive, that start you off but don’t limit you in what you want to do.
- Join Factions – Join the game’s version of guilds, Factions, and duke it out against other factions, running organized crimes and gaining respect to become the most respected Faction in the game.
Torn Featured Video
By Margo Sikes
I was surprised to discover that a text-based MMORPG could feel both modern and fully-featured, giving the player complete freedom and a positive social experience that only sandbox MMOs can offer, such as Mortal Online and Ultima Online. Torn has a huge population, thanks to its ability to keep players interested with its focus on social interaction and limiting gameplay, forcing players to come back the next day to continue leveling and customizing their character.
Torn begins with a series of graphics that introduce some basic features of the game, such as its sandbox nature, its crime-based theme and a recommendation to meet George to complete the tutorial missions. After clicking through the introductory images, the player is sent to the game itself, which primarily includes a left-oriented sidebar that details your character’s currency, stats and energy, as well as a series of links to places that the player can visit; this will become your hub of operations for the entirety of the game. The first page open is George’s Tutorial Missions, which are a series of missions that take players through the basics of the game, using flashing text and visual cues to get players used to the interface. Torn has a decent tutorial—it’s not painstakingly long, nor is it so short that I felt like I had no idea what I was doing when I finished it. Players are also given free refills as newbies, which allows them to quickly fill their Energy, Nerve, Happiness, or Life bars to full, which deplete as players perform different actions within the game.
As introduced in the tutorial, every action in the game progresses your character forward, which includes getting an education, training at the gym to boost your stats, performing petty crimes to collect money, or assaulting other players to mug, embarrass, or hospitalize. Strategic decisions are a must in this game to get anywhere near the top rankings, thanks to its relatively slow regeneration of resources and high cost on most activities. Players must choose their activities with care, and with so many options available, it is hard to know what to do. Plus, experience is hidden from the player, making it difficult to know what is worth pursuing. While Torn's tutorial introduces the game’s UI elements, map, and general gameplay, it does not tell the player what the quickest way to progress is.
The barrier for entry into the game’s rankings and boards is quite high, thanks to how long some players have been playing, and likely requires a guide if new players want to ascend quickly. Part of the difficulty curve is also Torn's time element, which forces players to be patient and come back later to accomplish anything, especially since a character’s job only pays once daily, and education takes over a week to complete individual courses.
As players become more familiar with the game, more options arise that allow the player to become more autonomous. A player can own a store and hire other players to sell items, take a job at a player-owned company for high pay, or buy an expensive property—deck it out, then rent it to players for extra cash. As they take more college courses, more crimes open up to them, allowing them to make more and more money to buy better equipment to perform more crimes. Players can avoid crime completely and focus on turning their store into a legitimate business, or hire other players to do crimes for them.
Within the game's paths are a massive amount of options. Want to be an assassin? Pick from a huge amount of guns and armor to equip and pursue bounties. Want to own a business? Tap into the massive player base and work with friends to start an oil corporation, a strip club, a candle shop, or a multitude of other company types. Want to become a hardened criminal? Visit other countries and perform increasingly dirty crimes, eventually opening up the ability to deal stolen items out to new criminals.
Organized Crime with Friends
Factions are the game’s guilds, which offer a way for players to band together to achieve their goals as a group. They also offer a way for new players to get help from more experienced players, which includes the potential for character boosts, group housing, and friendly advice. One of the purposes of joining a faction is to commit organized crime, which offers cash benefits and increases the amount of respect the Faction has, which is the experience bar that determines which abilities are available to the faction, as well as its standing on the leaderboards. The Factions of Torn are somewhat reminiscent of strategy MMO guilds like those found in Clash of Clans and Game of War; their focus is on topping leaderboards, warring with other factions for ranking and glory, putting individual members out of commission in an attempt to secure the win.
I joined a faction titled WildDestroyers, which then declared war on a faction titled The Vibrating Killers, to challenge their ranking and steal their spot on the leader board. The Vibrating Killers contained only one member: an active level 44 player living on a private island, the most expensive property in the game. My faction leader was level 5 in comparison, reigning over a group of level 2's and 3's. I attempted to attack the enemy leader with my new faction pride, but their 2000 health points versus my 100 made it too intimidating to pull the trigger. With exception to my own, it appears that most factions do know what they're doing, and new players should take care in selecting their faction on the game's recruitment forums.
Mug and Hospitalize Your Foes
The PvP of Torn is both solo and faction-based, and can be initiated either through the game's search menu or by finding a player in one of the game's buildings. Clicking on the player's name brings you to their profile, which allows for a series of actions to be taken, such as attack, place bounty, or message. Attacking a player takes you to a screen that shows two X-ray bodies next to each other. Once you begin the fight, each player's inventory is shown, and players are able to click on each equipped weapon to initiate attacks. The attacks randomly hit the enemy at different body points, more damage being dealt to certain points of the body. Stats come into play and give the battles a strategy element, as melee weapons are more effective against players with high dexterity, because they have a higher chance to hit than ranged weapons. Guns, on the other hand, consume bullets which can be purchased from the ammo locker and it is important to note which guns you have equipped, as many types of ammo exist.
Once you have won the fight the enemy is at your mercy and you are given the option to leave, mug, or hospitalize. Leaving them gives experience and puts them in the hospital for 30-40 minutes, whereas hospitalizing them sends them there for 3-4 hours. Mugging, on the other hand, rewards the player with 1-10% of their held cash which can be increased with Merits, the game's skill point system.
Unlike many other free-to-play MMORPGs, Torn does not allow premium members any special game-breaking benefits. The primary function of the game’s premium currency, Points, is to refill player bars, allowing them to perform more actions in a single sitting; it speeds up gameplay for players spending real money. Players can also sell premium items for in-game cash. You cannot buy experience or equipment, however, meaning that a great amount of effort is still involved in playing the game regardless of the player’s premium currency funds. Torn also offers a subscription service that gives players a special subscriber icon, access to daily prize draws, seasonal gifts, character upgrades and monthly point deposits. This is in great contrast to many pay-to-win MMORPGs such as Felspire or Lord's Road, that allow players to literally buy levels in some cases. Torn's premium shop is respectable, offering good benefits for players who choose to pay but not giving them an unfair advantage that is so often prevalent in free games.
Final Verdict - Great
While certainly not a game for everyone, thanks to its lack of graphics and long-term time investment, Torn shines in multiple categories, including uniqueness, polish, and community. As my experience with text-based games is limited mostly to one or two less-than-ideal experiences, I didn't come into Torn expecting very much, and was surprised at how much the text itself was able to convey a living game world without the need for 2D or 3D avatars running from place to place. It still manages to feel modern even though it is a text-based game. My one complaint is that Torn requires a lot of patience, which may turn off players who are more used to having their levels handed to them. Overall, it's an interesting, unique game worth checking out for fans of sandbox games and crime themes.
Torn Online Links
Torn System Requirements
Operating System: Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10, Mac OSX
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Equivalent
Video Card: Any Graphics Card (Integrated works well too)
RAM: 512 MB
Hard Disk Space: 100 MB (Cache)
Torn is a browser-based MMORPG and will run smoothly on practically any computer. Any modern web browser should run the game smoothly, as it is text-based and only requires images to load.
Torn Additional Information
Developer: Chedburn Networks
Publisher: Chedburn Networks
Designer: Joe Chedburn
Release Date: November 15, 2004
Development History / Background:
Torn was developed and published by Chedburn Networks, company of designer, Joe Chedburn. The idea for the game sprang up in Chedburn's head at the age of 16, and has since become immensely successful, turning him into a millionaire at the age of 21. Torn makes around $80,000 dollars a month through its premium subscriptions and purchases, and has surprised many tech entrepreneurs who doubted that a graphic-less game could ever be profitable. It is developed primarily for an English-speaking audience, its game chats and forums being English-only, although individual faction's private forums are not moderated, allowing for non-English speakers to play as well. It attracts nearly 20,000 players daily, and is constantly being updated by its original developer, with news coming out on the game's weekly newspaper, the Torn City Times.