reviews\ Jan 13, 2003 at 7:00 pm

EverQuest: The Planes of Power - PC - Review

Three years has seen the physical world evolve, with a tease of the ethereal. Now the ethereal is getting a little more attention.

EverQuest: The Planes of Power, a Sony Online Entertainment massively multiplayer online role-playing game, is the latest release in the series that began back in 1999. This installment of the series brings another level of gameplay to fans of the genre. But be forewarned: while Pillars of Power expands the explorable world of the title, you will have to be at an upper level to fully experience all this game has to offer.

Also, while the Planes of Power contains the latest expansion to the title and does come with the core game, players may not have access to all the races in the game. Some of the character classes, which were introduced in the Ruins of Karnak and Shadow of Luclin, require those games in order to format the starting point for the character. That is just a wee bit frustrating.

The core game is much like a host of other online role-playing games. It is time-consuming and consists of hunting regional beasts for the booty they drop, and experience, and there are quests you can undertake. The game takes place in the world of Norrath, which is huge. At the center of the game is the plane of knowledge. This area also boasts portals to zip players around the regions, as well as take them into the new zones.

Plane of Power has a host of new features, including 20 new planar zones. The upper zones are incredibly graphic in nature, but this is an area that is for upper-level characters. You will have to put a lot of time into the game, gain a lot of experience, and power up your skills in order to venture to the upper planes. Even then, you will have to have company in order to survive the ordeal.

Other new features include a bevy of new magical items, more than 50 new monsters, and new spells and trade skill recipes. And the top level for players used to be 60. That has risen to 65.

The game play remains basically the same, equipping items and inventory management. New players to the series will not have to be thrust into the task of taking on monsters levels ahead of them, but if played smartly, grouping with other players will work to benefit younger gamers.

Planes is a quest-driven adventure into the new realms. Players can move progressively through the realms, or just go in for the valuable experience gained in combat there.

It would be nice if the game came with a patch that allowed players access to all the previous incarnations of the program. But that is neither here nor there. Planes of Power expands the realm in a wonderful manner, giving the veteran players a new challenge, rather than treadmilling in the same spots without challenge. New players will have to wait to venture beyond the Plane of Knowledge, but by putting the core program in here, this is an expansion that will give the newbies the opportunity to play for a long time and have a challenge awaiting them the next time they enter this fascinating realm.

This game is rated Teen for blood and gore, violence, and suggestive themes.


Gameplay: 8.2
The essential game designed has remained intact while the player interface has been streamlined just a bit. The world, already large prior to this expansion, continues to grow. The game does have some lag, but that is common with online games sporting a big population base.

Graphics: 8
The environments are lush and colorful, and the animation is well done. There are some ‘sticking’ elements. There are some places where multiple corpses of the same individual remain for hours. Overall the animation is well done.

Sound: 8.4
The sound of thunder rolls across the sky, followed by the drumming of rain pounding the ground. The environment sounds of EverQuest are wonderful, while the battle sounds are standard for the genre.

Difficulty: Medium
This game takes time to level up. The actual expansion portion of the game will be unavailable to newer players until they level up.

Concept: 8
The ethereal nature of the Planes offers exciting environments and some new monsters to battle, as well as an immersive storyline. The core game has remained basically the same.

Multiplayer: 8.5
The expansion really leans toward cooperative play. Interacting with other players is still viable and almost necessary to move along in the quest.

Overall: 8
The Planes of Power offers fascinating new realms to a well-established and enjoyable game. Unfortunately this is a double-edged sword. Veteran players can take advantage of this, but new gamers will have invest a lot of time (and likely subscription dollars) in order to wander through these wonderful new realms.


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