previews\ Aug 27, 2003 at 8:00 pm

EverQuest Online Adventures: Frontiers - PS2 - Preview 2

A trace of snow drifts lazily toward the ground, while the sudden chill in the northern air pulls a misty steam from the water near the shore.

The town of Halas is nestled in the northern forests, a den to barbarians united under the banner of Clan of the Wolf. But these are perilous times. Freezeblood goblins are infringing on the town and it befalls the young warriors to repel this threat.

And if you fail - it matters little, for there shall soon be many, many others ready to take your place. Or, you just do it again. This is, after all, an online world where failure just means try again - or maybe, oops, that was insane, so maybe I need to be a little stronger before trying it again.

There is challenge, and there is definitely adventure in this pending EverQuest title, but don’t look for it on your local PC. This is a PlayStation2 title called EverQuest Online Adventures Frontiers. Currently in beta, GameZone was invited to enter the realm, to pick up sword or axe, or perhaps wield magic to annihilate the enemies of the realm.

Invisibility is a nice trick that lets you sneak up on your enemies.

There is little doubt that sports is dominating the online console gaming market, but despite being a second-generation title EQOA Frontiers may well revolutionize that thinking. Inasmuch as 2003 is the year of the MMORPG, Frontiers is certainly keeping with that tradition, while taking the console online market into new territory.

The barbarian is one of 10 races available in this game (which is slated for release in November). The game, as it is built now, has some flaws, to be certain, but even this early into the game it is apparent that this will be terrific fun. The worlds are huge and seamless, the controls elements well designed and surprising easy to use.

New features to this addition include: the ogre as a playable race; a new class of character, the alchemist; new areas of the map to discover, which includes three cities; redesigned graphics; hundreds of new items to acquire; new non-playing characters; increased level cap (now up to 60); and new quests.

The game takes place in a fantastic world known as Norrath. This is a world with a blend of the familiar and not so familiar. The world has day and night rotation and not all terrain is passable. There are mobs to fight, quests to undertake, and you can get into the rotation of training a skill and then utilizing it to advance your character. You can hunt and collect drops from the non-playing character monsters (NPCs and/or mobs) and then sell your loot for the coin of the realm, and then use that to buy better equipment or armor.

This is also a game that would be made much simpler with the USB keyboard attachment for the PS2. If you don’t have that, you may find your conversations with other players extremely limited, or they will take a long time as you open up the keyboard tool and navigate around it in the classic hunt-and-peck style.

However this game does a great job of translating a myriad of keyboard functions into the gamepad. It is actually an easy way to play this style of game.

The sound is somewhat redundant, though the musical score is robust and varies with the race selected. The battle sounds though are somewhat redundant and typical of the class. However, while solid, the audio portion of this game is not its true lure.

EQOA Frontiers puts players into an online world that is rich and immersive. The quests may seen, early on, built to introduce you to the various elements of the game and they will indeed force you to team with others to get the quest accomplished. But the graphical attention to detail is wonderful, and the gameplay is evolving and entertaining.

EverQuest fans will recognize many of the elements that make their game so richly entertaining, but fans new to the genre of MMORPGs, and those with the PS2 console system may find this a wondrous role-playing adventure.

This is great fun.

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