Planetside – PC – Preview

Planetside is the world’s first Massive
Multiplayer online first-person action game. A yet to be determined monthly
subscription fee ($10-$15) will be charged after the initial free period
expires, but honestly after you read this preview I guarantee you will feel the
price is worth it!! Most FPS fans have had their taste of multiplayer online
gaming with an average of 32 players. SOE (Sony Online Entertainment), who
brought us Everquest, has raised the bar, shattered it and pulverized the
remaining pieces. Imagine this if you can. A game on such a scale that there can
be 1000’s of players engaging in battles in one single game. At first look it
maybe doubtful you will see 1000 people in one single battle trying to take over
a base on one given continent On the other hand, you can definitely expect to
see a couple hundred players engaging in multiple skirmishes over ten continents
in a single world. The terrain varies from barren deserts, to tropical forests,
to the frozen arctic to molt and lava volcanic landscapes. Constantly changing
weather will also be a factor when planning your assaults. You can expect to see
many battles taking place at one given time. It will be up to you to
attack/defend what is most important. There is an instant action option that
will take you to a battle that requires your assistance.

Now, when I’m using the word battle, I’m not
just talking about a few bases here, we are talking a plethora spread out over
10 continents. There are 3 empires to swear your allegiance to all having their
pros and cons to bring war on a level playing field.

Terran Republic

Though their weapons may not pack quite the
punch as NC equipment, the Terran Republic’s equipment generally fires faster
and they covet the "more is better" type of attitude. This is displayed by some
of their vehicles that can carry two gunners, and the other empires are only
equipped to carry one gunner.

The New Conglomerate

The New Conglomerate’s equipment takes on the
bigger is better attitude. The firepower may pack a bigger wallop, but at a
slower rate of fire. Many of these weapons can be deadly at close range, but
loose their luster over distances.

Vanu Sovereignty

Their equipment may fall short in punching
power and rate of fire, but their built-in Armor Piercing mode for their weapons
gives them the flexibility in combat that can’t be matched. Same is true for
their vehicles, but they have ability to move across water, which allows them to
strike from nearly almost any side. Forcing the other empires to watch every
angle of conflict.

If by chance the playing field becomes
lopsided with too many players on one side. There will bonuses/penalties in
constant flux in relation to the number of hours played by each Empire in the
last 24 hours. As more players from an Empire log on and play over time, their
incentives/disincentives will be altered accordingly. The ebb and flow of
incentives is fairly slow, but helps to balance the gameplay if the population
of one Empire gets too far out of balance in relation with the others.

Ok, so now you have chosen who you are going
put your life on the line for, now how are you going to go about doing it? As
you play you will acquire certification points that you will use to specialize
your character with. You may want to use your CP’s to use the toughest armor and
get the biggest guns. Some certifications allow only certain types of armor and
weapons. The only problem with that is that the heaviest armor does not allow
you to pilot a vehicle so you may have to hitch a ride or two. You could become
an advanced medic and heal friendly units to keep your teammates in the battle.
Maybe driving futuristic vehicles is more up your ally. Maybe you prefer a more
covert ops type play and want to be a hacker and infiltrate an enemy base and
bring it to its knees. The beautiful thing is that you can unlearn
certifications, which allows you to try all aspects of the game.

You can also equip yourself with up to 3
implants as well. These devices give you super-hero like abilities like a brief
rocket like burst of speed, or a personal shield, etc. Implants may be installed
via Implant Terminals at the Sanctuary or friendly Bio Labs on any of the Battle
Continents. As you can see even fans of MMORPG will find some fun here.

Ok, you have made your character and now you
want to give the game a whirl, what do you do now you ask? Well here is an idea
of your Empire’s objectives.

  • The objective of your empire is to capture
    and control as many facilities as it can across the ten Continents.

  • Hacking into the Control Console is how a
    facility changes hands from one empire to another.

  • Hacking into a Control Console begins the
    transference process of the facility.

  • Hacking requires a Remote Electronics Kit (REK).
    Facilities impart a variety of benefits to the side that control them.

  • Each empire has a Sanctuary that is a safe
    haven from enemies.

  • As facilities operate, they consume
    resources in the form of Nanite Technology Units (NTUs).

  • The NTU silo next to the building shows the
    current amount of NTUs the facility has at its disposal.

  • If the NTU level at a facility drops to
    zero, the facility will turn neutral, negating any ownership aspect.

  • Advanced Nanite Transport (ANT) vehicles
    can be used to re-supply facilities.

  • Certification for ANTs is automatically
    granted once any other vehicle certification is chosen.

  • ANTs harness the energy of Warp Gates once
    they are deployed within the dome of a Warp Gate.

  • To re-supply a facility NTU Silo, deploy a
    charged ANT nearby in the courtyard.

Sounds like a cakewalk doesn’t it? Well let
me tell you it is no easy task. While you are trying to attack, other empires
are hitting your bases as well. Sometimes you may have the upper hand, just to
find another base is falling. Remember we are talking engagements on a huge
scale here so expect intensive battles to complete such objectives. As you can
probably tell, no one person is going to pull these objectives off by
themselves. I cannot stress enough that this will be a team-based game and that
all type of characters will be utilized to effectively meet these tasks.
Thankfully you will have some chat macros to give commands with, as well as the
typical chat where you type it in. The best option is using a headset to talk
between squad-mates. By far the best option to effectively work together!

Friendly fire is always on so be sure what
you shoot at. You will acquire Grief Points for hitting friendly forces. Too
many GP’s can cause players to lose abilities if the points get to high. This
should deter those annoying players who want to go postal on their team, and can
cause timeouts on weapons and such. If I understand correctly, a player who
practices these heinous tactics on a continuous basis can and will be booted
from the game if the initial warnings prove no help. YAY SOE!

The game itself will have a bit of a learning
curve. A game of this scale complete with hundreds of options in character
development and weapon and armor configurations should promise a strong
following in both the FPS and RPG communities. The graphics and sound effects
were quite solid in the beta version of the game. Once we receive the final
version of the game, we will cover that a bit more in depth. But at first
glance, I was not disappointed. Gameplay so far is very fast paced with little
to no lag. The developers went to many measures to make speed one of their top
concerns. One way this was handled was to eliminate damage placement. Having
said that, no headshots. Pace of play should be so quick that nobody should see
that to be a problem. Another problem that was taken out of the equation was any
AI issues. Seems like nearly all games have issues with artificial intelligence
whether it is too poor, or too deadly. SOE took any AI problems right out by
making this strictly all person vs. person play.

So, at first glance this appears to be a very
promising title to be had whether you’re a FPS or RPG fan. If you have a love
for both, this should be a must have. I cannot wait to get my hands on the
retail version, which should entail a great review. Hopefully by the time of
release (scheduled for May 20th), most of the bugs found in the Beta
will be worked out and gamers all over the world will unite/battle in this new
online world. Expectations are high, but it looks promising that SOE will