Blood Pact said:
Being able to min-max stack your character, so that you are potentially OPed at character creation IS a problem though. Not the inherent flexibility of the free-form system.
But I'm constantly getting the feeling around here that I'm the only one who's ever played anything by White Wolf, and thus, most of the people talking about how great a free-form system is (or how publishing one set of main core rules, with every 'splat'/gameline building off them, like the nWoD, would be better).
Because I am quite experienced with their games, and because of that I know just how catastrophically a free-form system can break down. It really isn't always a case where it's better in every way, than the mean ol' restrictive level-based system.
I'm a long time nWoD player (it was my first RPG actually), and I still think it's better than level-based stuff. With freeform systems, all you need to do as a GM is set your own limits for what is suitable to take at char-gen, be it skills at a particular level, or items/weapons/etc, but you are free to make characters with any combination of skills you want. With most level/class based games I know, the only way to really work as a character is to min-max and have dump stats you don't increase because your character will never be as good as other people in it. You are pigeon-holed into a role, unlike with free-form systems.
This isn't even taking into account that, generally, with level-based games, in my experience, players have the stats/class come first, and the characterisation later (which is restricted, often, by what class you chose). Free-form games allow you to make up a character, with a unique backstory, and be able to make him without being restricted by 'rogues are for sneaking and trap-finding' (which is reinforced by the mechanics) and the like.
So yea, in my opinion, free-form games are inherently more customisable, and therefore better in pretty much every way, over class/level based games.