Massive multiplayer online role playing games are known since long time for their excellent and pleasant communities. With most First Person Shooters though it’s completely different. Many gamers, including me, were therefor very curious about Planetside because this refreshing title in the fps genre offers gamers the mix between fps and mmog. But didn’t Sony Online forget to put in the fun and the addiction? Read everything about it in this review of the mmofps PlanetSide!
PlanetSide is some kind of futuristic battle between three different sides which constantly fight each other in order to get the most continents at the end of the day. These three organisations are the New Conglomerate (the blue/yellow ones), the Terran Republic (the reds) and the Vanu Sovereignty (the purples) ). Each faction has some unique weapons and vehicles which only they can purchase. Each side is able to steal these weapons (from enemy corpses) and vehicles and if one has the right certification then he/she can use it. Since this is the only way that your team can acquire these uniquities it’s most likely you’ll probably loose them soon. The factions aren’t always nicely balanced, discussions about who has the strongest special weapon f.e. can become quite long. A detailed list of all weapons (and pictures of them) is listed here.
PlanetSide will certainly make you think about Tribes since this classic offered almost the same standard-weapons and had a matching ‘look and feel’.
Every island (in-game it’s called a ‘continent’) in Planetside can be seen as a mega-oversized Tribes level and if you realise that there are about 10 of those ‘continents’ of which most contain action all the time, then you probably understand that a decent way of transport is very important/unmissable. There are numerous ways of transport: you can either walk (for an hour or so :)) or you can wait till the Hart shuttle arrives (there is one every 15 minutes) which gives you the ability to drop everywhere on the world. Another way of getting transport is start screaming around in your sanctuary base (a place where none of the enemy factions can ever come and where the Hart picks you up) for a squad with a Galaxy (a large transport aircraft) in the hope they let you join and pick you up. Finally you can acquire a vehicle/aircraft of your own but you’ll need the right certification. The player can get a certification at the right terminals through certification points which you receive when leveling up. Good to know is that certifications can be unlearned so you are able to spend the points again on something new. One point of remark: you can ‘forget’ certifications only once every 24 hours. For a list of all vehicles it’s handy to go here.
As said before many gamers were hoping for a great community which could work together easily in Planetside and SOE made this true through the fine interface.
Everyone can make squads with some simple commands, when you are in a squad you can see the health and armor bar of your squadmates displayed high on your screen. Since every member gets a number it’s easy to say who is on your westside f.e. when looking on the mini- and worldmap.
The goal in Planetside is as said the conquest of more land for your faction. Of course you won’t conquer a facility on your own since you need first a hacker (for quick speed while hacking the control console), secondly, the facility you are hacking needs to be linked to a friendly base, and three: some serious teamwork.
With ‘teamwork’ I mean people guarding the consoles and generator while the hacker is doing his job as soon as possible. Once a facility is hacked there are 15 minutes between the hacking and the actual capture of the facility. The enemy can easily hack the control console again in order to get rid of the hack so defending the control console is important. Recently SOE added the LLU which makes that if one hacks a certain LLU facility he has to take the LLU to a friendly base nearby or else the hack fails. With every succesfull capture of a facility there are experience points (xp) to be earned. The number of xp you get with each captured facility is measured by the amount of bloodshed around the base it took to acquire the facility. After massive battles around facilities there is always very much xp to be had if a hack was succesfull. Beginning players might try to hack towers first (which doesn’t provide xp though) before they join a big assault team. The ultimate step is to join/found an Outfit (sort of clans in Planetside). The advantage of Outfits is that you’ll always find someone to form squads with.
Graphically Planetside is superb for a massive multiplayer online game: the most beautiful vegetation and plants are to be found on Auraxis (the world which contains all the continents) and everything has nicely done textures. A disadvantage about this are the system requirements which are very demanding, my 1800Mhz with 512DDR Ram and a Geforce4 Ti had more than once a hard time when a lot of players (100 or so) were shooting each other. This problem is mainly caused by the fact that Planetside really requires a lot of Ram, with less than 512 Ram I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it because of the many framedrops then. If this can be solved by a patch is yet to be seen. The game sometimes lags very heavy too, even months after the release.
Also fine are the animations when you step in a vehicle, holster your weapon, use turrets, etc.. These animations are just short enough to not be irritating. Also the special effects and the soundtrack are top of the bill. Except for a few bugs here and then there is nothing more to say about the graphics or sound. But which mmog doesn’t have bugs?
I found Planetside not too impressive in the beginning, everything was beautiful and pretty but I didn’t have a real reason to go on with playing. That was till I got in my first huge battle which was one hell of a lasershow! Never before had I seen something like this, such an exiting moment where the three sides were trying to get an important facility in an area which was always full of combattants. The TR, of which I was part of, had to retreat eventually but not without there being a fierce fight first. Really, the moment you are in such a mass-battle, you’re immediately addicted to the game. A pity though that Planetside still is very repetitive which causes the entire ‘capture the base’-motive to become pretty boring after a while. A facility where you have literally died several times for to conquer can be retaken 20 minutes after you have left it by an enemy squad and that… hurts :). But SOE promised to take care of the ‘no goal’-problem with upcoming patches which would create Outfit bases, platoons etc.. Hopefully they keep their promise…
Conclusion: PlanetSide kicks ass! I couldn’t say more after my first 12 hours in this game and I still can’t say much more than that. The huge futuristic battlefields around a facility are so ‘huge’ it becomes an addiction like none before and gives players a real kick. Although the addiction won’t remain because of the repetitiveness of the game, you’ll still find yourself wanting to play Planetside in the early morning (which you won’t do that much since not much people are online then). If SOE can give us more variety and a nice goal in the next updates and there is still a large playerbase by then then you have a brilliant game! People who are willing (or are able) to pay €50 for Planetside in the shop and €12 every month can’t go wrong on this. A small complaint about the European support is appropiate though. This should be done better. The European server (which has quite a large playerbase, of which many are playing on US-servers too) called ‘Werner’ sometimes suffers from serious lag or situations where the TR Sanctuary is suddenly population locked. The consequence was that no-one of the TR could join the server and therefore this empire had nearly no continents or bases in her possession. Things like these can become quite frustrating indeed.