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October 19, 2010



- Gorgeous visuals
- Expansive possibilities for character development
- Richly detailed setting



- Sharp learning curve
- Cutthroat PvP action almost everywhere
- Unusual and unfriendly ship controls



Review: EVE Online, circa 2003 (PC)

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EVE Online: Commissioned Officer Edition

Score: 8.5 / 10


eve online          eve online


Some years back, curiosity compelled me to pick up a copy of EVE Online. It was one of those games that I had heard about but didn’t know a lot of people who actually played it. What I discovered was a beautiful and sometimes aggravating jewel of a game. At that time, it was probably the best looking game I’d ever seen. However, the brutal and rather cutthroat nature of the setting and its players eventually convinced me to look elsewhere. With the release of the new expansion, Incursion, and a copy of the “Commissioned Officer’s Edition” box in hand, I dived back into the galaxy and found that while not much has changed, it’s still a beautiful game.

When I first played EVE about five years back, it had striking visuals for an MMO, more like something I would expect out of a really well developed single player space-themed game. It’s clear that CCP has kept the graphics up to date, since EVE




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is still the best looking MMO in the market. Keep in mind, while I enjoy other MMOs like World of WarCraft and Champions Online, the amount of visual detail and sense of realism in their graphics engines just isn’t anywhere in the same class. The nearest competitor I could possibly think of would be Star Trek Online, and even that looks substandard next to EVE. Engine exhaust, star fields, atmospheric halos around planets, even solar flares erupting


from stars, all of these and more can be seen and appreciated in EVE. More than anything else, those visuals are what help sell players on the idea that they’re in deep space, that they’re not in our galaxy, and that they are part of a living universe. If there’s any complaint I have with the visuals, it’s in the new character creation system. Originally, the characters I had created had a feeling of realism without being entirely realistic. Since the new character creation system came out, I had to redo those characters, and I found that a lot of the neat bits and bobs had been swapped out with less compelling choices. I liked the way that certain factions felt when you created a new character, the hard edged look of the Minmatar, the comfortable warmth of the Gallente. Now, while there are still a lot of options, they just don’t seem quite as cool as they used to.

The music and sound effects in EVE are very well done. As you might imagine for a game involving combat in deep space, there are plenty of explosions, sizzling lasers, and the roar of engines. It’s technically inaccurate, but sounds cool anyway. The soundtrack relies on electronica more than orchestral scores, and some of those tunes are almost disturbingly chirpy and bright when compared to the void which you pilot your ship through. One does not find much in the way of stirring martial anthems in EVE, which is perhaps a bit of a disappointment. Still, what is in the game, the developers should not feel ashamed of.


eve online          eve online

Looking at gameplay in EVE, you find that there are two fundamentally established activities, grinding and PvP, and everything that you can do in the game is a subset or an offshoot of one of those two activities. If you’re not grinding out minerals by mining asteroids, you’re grinding out ISK (the in-game currency) by completing missions, both of which are put forth towards ensuring a sufficient supply of ships and equipment on hand when you go out into the lawless frontiers of the galaxy where only player-run corporations rule. Even so, the game certainly gives you the opportunity to customize your character’s skill set to a very fine degree, and gives you plenty of opportunity to make yourself into the premier miner, trader, or mercenary pilot around. While players are automatically assigned to NPC-run corporations, they are by no means bound to them any longer than is necessary. If you’ve got friends, or are a persuasive player, getting into a player-run corporation should be a snap. Surviving is another matter entirely. Although it doesn’t appear that there are quite as many random pirate players hanging out at the warp points, ready to blast the unwary for sport, there are still some, which understandably makes it difficult to enjoy the game. As one of the tutorial missions mentions, the guiding ethos in EVE is “don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose.” So while you may have scrimped and saved to buy up that Amarr battleship and decked it out with enough weapons to swat lesser opponents without batting an eye, it’s unwise to tool around the galaxy in it unless you’re certain of your abilities or you’ve got a screen of corporation friends to support you.

For a game that gives you considerable control over your own destiny, the actual piloting of starships can be rather frustrating. You have no direct control over your craft like you would in games such as Wing Commander or Homeworld. You can find celestial bodies and points of interest within a star system to align with and approach, you can choose to orbit enemies and structures at distances which are pre-defined either by you or the game, but you can’t necessarily fly your ship like you’d expect. A Star Trek Online control scheme would certainly be easier to handle, though it would doubtlessly cause problems with the physics model that EVE employs for projectile-based weapons. For those who prefer to mark targets and shoot without all the pesky trouble of trying to get on their enemy’s six, EVE should prove an interesting challenge.

If one were to describe EVE Online, the most accurate description possible would be “boutique MMO.” It’s not aimed at the WoW crowd. It’s not trying to steal market share from the behemoths. Yet it has enough of a stable player base to elevate it beyond merely cult status. As Douglas Adams so aptly wrote, “It’s a tough universe out there.” EVE is an elegant and brutal waltz among the stars. For those who want some serious PvP action and don’t mind a sharp learning curve, this MMO might well keep you satisfied for years.


- Axel Cushing

(March 4, 2011)


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