the Junkyard: Planetside

Starsiege Series Tribes Series Halo Series
Posted by: Mhaddy on Thu Jun 5th, 2003 at 8:10 PM
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Genre: Massive FPS
Release Date: 05-20-2003

The first of its kind, Planetside give us the addictive gameplay of Everquest mixed with the intense firefighting action of Tribes 2. Able to play a multitude of roles, Planetside will beckon to you stronger than a crack fix and a ten dollar whore... for a few days anyway. With its aspect of being one of the first massive multiplayer online first person shooters, Planetside extends to be a thrilling FPS experience with huge firefights, squad-based teamplay environments, and a mass variety of ways of supporting the action.

Whether you love dodging missiles while flying "nap of the earth" over treetops, dropping cargo loads
of air assault troops, or pounding the ground with heavily armored vehicles a host of selection awaits you.

The game allows you to experience FPS action with the bonus of working to gain experience and command points for your character to progress through a choice of ten continents filled with baddies. With these experience "certifications" you can purchase the abilities to pilot additional vehicles, use more advanced weapons, and learn new skills to help your team in the field. You can choose to slink behind the scenes as an infiltrator hacking away at the enemy's base when they're not looking or you can jump in a wide variety of ground vehicles, many of which have the ability to hold passengers making them more essential on the battlefield. Two different types of attack aircraft are also at your disposal for those of you who like a "birds eye view" of the battlefield and watch as the little bastards flee for their lives as you unleash the almighty can of whoopass.

The command features of this game are a pleasant bonus to those used to the "almost inefficient" command screens of the Tribes genre. A commander can use the features of the game to search for advertising LFS (Looking for Squad) players while beaconing to those around him that he is looking for squad members to join his team. The commanders skill is determined by his experience in leading past squads. As a successful commander leads, he builds up command experience that goes to determine his "Command Rank" or CR. As his CR progresses, more skills become available to him. The commander can then establish waypoints for his team to meet up at, or even draw on the map to make specific notes available for his team to read.

An example of how earned experience plays apart on a different aspect of the game, many squads in the game are formed specifically by choosing members with certain experience levels, skills, or certificates in certain types of vehicles. So it is important to make sure you spend your gained certificates wisely so you are always in demand. For leaders, Galaxy pilots form the cornerstone in squad transportation and are in high demand. So by having the right certs you can attract a larger, more competent squad. Sony was nice enough to include a com system to further help teams organize but it sucks. It actually reminds me of the shabby communications crap included in Tribes 2. Your best bet here would be to stick to a trusty "outside" communications server hosting Roger Wilco, or Teamspeak when playing this.

The landscape of the continents are beautifully rendered making an optimal video card a requirement for lag free play. Also note... LOTS OF RAM! I have 512 DDR Ram on a modest 2.4 Ghz, and an ATi 9700 Pro and I was showing some frame rate lag. During beta, the game had problems with a rather large memory leak but it looks like they have cleared that up to some degree.

Anyway, each continent is filled with its own assortment of flora, hills, and lakes providing a breathtaking landscape to look at when your killing and dying. Unfortunately, there aren't any rats to shoot at which seems to be a trademark of most Massive Online games. I know what you're saying... "Damn!" The structures that serve as the towers and bases are large and nicely made but the repetiveness of having the same type of bases to fight in quickly gets old. "Wasn't I just here?" You'll ask yourself that more than once. From rumor, Sony is supposed to be enhancing the defenses available to the bases perhaps spicing it up a bit. Let's hope anyway.

This brings us to the core gameplay experience of Planetside. The object of the game is for you or your squad to secure the many scattered bases on the continents to establish a lock on the continent you are fighting on. This "lock" involves many hours and possibly many large battles to achieve. That is... if you can achieve it. Working with you is a hand picked squad chosen by the squad leaders of each group. Your squad with everyone else fighting on the continent strive to hack, sabotage, or destroy its way into controlling base after base and tower after tower. Many different positions of strategy can be involved with this process as your team can either opt for a guerilla sort of action and rob the enemy of its generator power thus forcing his base to become neutral and in operatable to him. Captures of different, specific facilities can also make a difference and thus influence strategy on what bases to hit. For instance, the Technology base is required for the other friendly bases to be able to produce the larger and more powerful vehicles and a capture of the Dropship base can insure an Empire a steady supply of the all important Galaxy transport plane. This adds some interesting variety to the ways teams can concentrate their attacks.

However, not interesting enough to offset the game's weakness after a few days of playing, which is the repetitious nature of taking one base after another that all look alike. With night after night of fighting, Planetside eventually slows down from being an exciting FPS and more of a game of level grind your way to the top with XP. More XP insures that you will be able to do more and diversify your role. This diversity is what will keep you interested in the game once the base taking has gotten old as you'll be able to experiment with different vehicles and loadouts. Don't get me wrong, the massive shootouts are a blast especially if you are in a well organized squad working together but in the end I believe it will be the leveling of BR or Battle Rank which will keep players interested. I say this mainly because of the benefits of being able to do more and contribute more to the team. Any game gets old though but the feeling that once I get tired of playing and ending my subscription, I have a $50 dollar piece of crap thats good only for a coaster. Worthless because you can't reinstall 2 years down the road just for some fun without forking over more cash. Aside from that feeling I still find myself drawn to the game. The question I have is for how long? Which is something you should consider before buying this for yourself.

Please note that this review was written by Tasluk.

Fin: Final Thoughts:
Overall, Planetside is a good game. It seems balanced enough as far as the empires go and can provide many hours of fun, gaming experience before it devolves into a boring level grind climb to the top. Now whether it is worth the $12.95 per month is debatable. If you don't feel comfortable paying a monthly fee for the game, I would just recommend holding out for Halo or Tribes: Vengeance. If the Dev team keeps on the ball, they can turn around the "humdrum" features that PS already has and make it an incredibly addictive game.

-Fun game play
-Massive battles
-Variety of ways to play

-Monthly fee
-Repetitive gameplay at times
-Threat of turning into a slow, boring level grind

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