" Planetside wants to do for Doom what Everquest did for D&D. "
Title: Planetside by Sony
Format: Massively Multiplayer Online Shooter
Reviewing Monkey: Dunapult
The Hype: Since near the dawn of color computer gaming the first person shooter has existed. And from that day forth mankind has dreamt of gathering in a virtual environment with thousands of their brethren to frag the holy living crap out of each other. Now, almost 2 decades later, we have Planetside- Sony's attempt to put thousands of geeks in gun site of each other. Called a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game, Planetside wants to do for Doom what Everquest did for D&D.
What This Monkey Thought...
Graphics: Considering what I had guessed it would take to make an engine like this playable, the graphics are surprisingly good. Sure, they're not nearly the eye candy of such limited multiplayer shooters as UT 2003 or Raven Shield, but all things considered they really are quite nice all the same. Vast rolling lands of almost every description, nicely detailed character models, down right beautiful skylines, and some very acceptable effects mean that you won't get board looking at the game…even on those long distance runs that plague all MMOs. 4 out of 5
Playability: At its heart Planetside is
a pretty standard FPS. And while I would normally bitch about that point, given
that this game is supposed to be a standard FPS I'd say they hit the mark admirably.
Based around an expanding reticule firing design (the more you move and shoot
the less accurate your gun gets) Planetside went the extra step over games like
Medal of Honor and incorporated a cone of fire. What that means is that unlike
the afore mentioned Medal of Honor and several other games on the market that
simply let your bullets fly straight at the target randomly within the aiming
reticule, Planetside actually has the bullets originate from your gun barrel
and cone outwards. So, in other words, you'll find it's easier to shoot someone
the closer they are and the discipline of crouched firing and short bursts is
a must-which means it's somewhat separated from the standard point-and-click
twitch gaming faire.
For the most part, the weapons are standard fair but nicely done (rocket launchers, grenade launchers, machine guns, sniper rifles) and do not stand out on their own. What does stand out is the character options as far as what you can and can't carry. Each character is allowed one of a number of suits of armor. The bigger and bulkier the armor, the more and more powerful weapon you can carry, but the slower and less agile you become. The lighter the armor the less damage you take and the less you get to hump around but the faster you are.
To control character advancement and keep the game balanced it uses experience points to buy what are called certifications. Certifications allow you to use new types of armor, pilot different vehicles (of which there are a considerable number in the game), carry various weapons, and gain game oriented skills like hacking, healing (medics), and commanding other troops.
All this depth rolls into the game's central theme-that of waging all out war and conquering enemy bases. That, simply put, is the ultimate goal of the game and every time you log on you will primarily be participating in this activity, regardless of whether you are defending a base you control or capturing the base of another team. It's fun, if not a bit repetitive, and given the vast scope of the world (trust me, it's huge) will keep you going for a long time. All in all, a good core for the game and a cool set of concepts.
But it wouldn't be a MMO if it wasn't plagued with some issues and, thus, Planetside has its own set of problems. First and fore most, as almost everyone would expect, is lag. Lag, lag, lag. I don't care what computer you run this thing on or how bad ass your connection is, eventually the frame rate monster will rear its ugly head and you will be smacked by someone you didn't even see move behind you or by incoming fire your machine hasn't rendered yet. It's a problem and at times it's down right ridiculous but, the truth of the matter, is that so long as you have a reasonable machine and connection (don't even try to play with dial up) it won't ever stay above the level of annoyance for overly long…though that annoyance will be constant.
Second we have the problem of the "Noob", the beginning player. Worse than any game I can think of in the last few years, Planetside does little to nothing to get the starting player ready to go. Sure, there's a tutorial, but it exists in a vacuum and has little practical application. It doesn't near sufficiently teach you how to capture a base, what weapons are good choices for what situations, how squads and team stuff works, or what to do when you get to the action. Worse yet, thus far the gaming community is mostly composed of the same elitist FPS gamers who ruin UT and Battlefield 1942 servers and they will not only fail to give you any help but, more often than not, go out of their way to ridicule you for your ignorance. Now, granted, this isn't exactly Sony's fault…but I can't imagine that they didn't see this problem coming and a newbie server with admins giving advice and answering questions is desperately needed.
Finally, and arguably most important, is the hassle of text chatting. For a game like Everquest where you have all the time in the world text is fine. While your guy is on auto attack you can chat your heart away. But in a real time shooter like this you barely get to type "Sniper on the…" before your entire squad is wasted. It's a GLARING issue and one I can't believe Sony didn't see coming and work out in the betas. They have now, after launch, started instituting a voluntary system that works half assed at best, but the game absolutely positively should have shipped with a mike set like SOCOM for the PS2 did. This, more than anything, will detract from your enjoyment of the game and, if it's not resolved soon, will likely lead to the serious loss of players. 3.75 out of 5
Multiplayer and Replayability: Well, given that this is a multi-player only game, I'm going to let you draw your own conclusions. Worth noting, since I haven't mentioned it anywhere else in the review, is that this is an exclusively player vs. player set up-there are no bots or automated defenses to battle. Everything in the world is either another person or a trap set by another person. Also worth mentioning, and this seems like the right place to do it, is the fact that getting to that on-line community will cost you 13 bucks a month…so be ready to commit that above and beyond the purchase price when you pick it up.
|All in all, I have to admit I've been pleasantly surprised by how playable straight out of the box Planetside has been. A veteran of on-line gaming, I was expecting a royal mess that would require dozens of patches to make it playable and Planetside isn't that at all. Sure, it's a little base in its scope, but it is designed to give players just that-a good FPS feel in a massive multiplayer environment, and it does that admirably.|
The Good: Lots and lots of violence, a ton of vehicles, weapons, and equipment, nice graphics considering, and a solid launch product.
The Bad: Lag, No Voice, and a decidedly newbie unfriendly environment.
The Overall Ugly: If you're a die hard FPSer, you should be playing this game.
What it's Worth: Market