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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Role Playing (Online)

 

Publisher

Simon & Schuster

 

Developer

CCP

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2003

 

 

- Teamwork is key

- Very customizable characters

- Great visuals

- Great music

 

 

- Mining is a terrible chore

- Docking at space stations takes too long

- Autopilot can be unreliable

 

 

Review: Phantasy Star Online Episodes I & II (Xbox)

Review: Freelancer (PC)

 

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Eve Online

Score: 8.0 / 10

MMORPGs have become such a wide, expansive genre over the years.  Everyone is looking to cash in, but oh so few actually manage to make something that gamers deem worthy of their time.  Enter CCPís Eve Online, which chooses to enter the wide expansive world of outer space.  Allowing players to be successful corporate citizens, miners of rare minerals, bounty hunters, or even pirates, the door is left wide open for how players choose to make their way through the game.  With some fabulous visuals thrown into the mix thereís a lot to like about this game.  The only major drawback of the game is that the pacing will be too slow for some, but there are workarounds to a degree that should help alleviate the problem.  

eve-online-1.jpg (34128 bytes)          eve-online-2.jpg (31889 bytes)

One of the most enjoyable aspects of Eve is how diverse character tailoring is.  There are a number of base skills characters will need to get the ball rolling, like navigation, or gunnery, or mechanics, but within them there are so many sub-skills that players really need to think as to how they will advance them.  Do they want to be the military wing of a corporation?  If so, what weapons will they specialize in?  Energy?  Projectile?  Hybrid?  Maybe they want a role in a corporation.  They better decide whether to specialize in factory work, design, mining, or any of the other myriad skills within.  There are just so many variables to take into account, and even better, they arenít an overwhelming experience to get through.  Throw in that each race and their castes within improve their skills at different rates depending on their field of expertise and you have a lot of options on your plate.  Nuts and bolts RPG players will really enjoy this part of the game.  What makes it even more interesting is that the skills arenít improved through combat, but through commanding your character to start training it to a new level.  Bare in mind, though, that you can only train one skill at a time and you have to purchase the initial skill chip at a station or from another player in order to begin that skill at its first level.  Interestingly, your character continues to learn the skill regardless of whether or not youíre playing the game, so if you want a skill to a high level it doesnít take as long as it seems.

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Once you get a handle on what you want out of your character itís time to find people to team up with.  CCP really does try to make sure that that the game is a social experience, because if you go it alone you just arenít going to get much done.  Teamwork is key to doing well in Eve, whether joining a corporation and collectively collecting riches, or starting a grew of marauders wrecking havoc on unsuspecting convoys.  Itís great forming up a strike force 

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to keep pirates at bay while your corporation tries to mine rare ores in a low security star system.  Working with others is also about the only way youíll ever get enough cash together to get a hold of the larger warships of the game, because they are pricey bastards, especially the top class ships where youíll have to buy the blueprints, then mine and refine all the ores necessary to construct it in a factory.

However, this brings us to the glaring sore point in Eve.  Mining takes forever.  Players will find themselves spending a good amount of their time parked beside one asteroid or another, mining lasers blasting away until their cargo hold is full. Then itís off to the nearest station to refine the ore and save the materials to haul them to a star system that pays top dollar for it.  Now repeat this over the hours, and eventually over the days as you buy bigger and bigger mining vessels because you need more and more money to get deadlier and deadlier warships and you can see that this is a painfully monotonous procedure.  Itís possible to alleviate it somewhat by joining a corporation and have people take turns mining while others fly escort, but eventually youíre going to draw the short straw and be stuck blasting rock for the day.  Obviously CCP couldnít make mining too easy as it is one of, if not THE, main means of making money in the game, as to do so would result in everyone and their mother flying around in the biggest warship they could find.  But nonetheless some way to make the mining a little more tolerable would be much appreciated.  The chat window is nice and all, but if I wanted to yack it up all night Iíd use instant messaging, not a game.

eve-online-3.jpg (29057 bytes)          eve-online-4.jpg (37578 bytes)

The only other problem areas come in docking and using jump gates when in autopilot.  Both suffer from a similar problem.  When on approach to a station your ship firstly takes a damn long time to dock, though this can be avoided by jettisoning a little bit of worthless cargo right outside the station and establish it as a bookmarked warp point so that you drop right out of warp right outside the station.  Unfortunately as you find yourself visiting more and more stations this technique becomes increasingly useless.  The problem that jump gates pose in autopilot is that your ship doesnít always automatically jump to the next star system and continue merrily on its way.  On occasion itíll just stop outside the gate, sitting there whistling Dixie instead.  This is a real pain if youíre on autopilot to a star system 10 jumps away and you decide to fold laundry or some such while you wait, only to come back and discover your ship has stalled in some god forsaken sector of the galaxy.  Hopefully CCP will address this issue posthaste.

Happily, the aesthetic of the game isnít all doom and gloom like the last two paragraphs.  The visuals in Eve are second to none with their use of light, level of detail, and the ability to make space feel bloody gigantic.  Zooming in on your ships reveals tons of detail as you notice itís armaments, decals, and every other nuance one might expect from a hulking starship.  Even the menus have a slick design and are nicely customizable in terms of color scheme.  The audio side of things is equally pleasing with a huge mix of very well done ambient musical pieces that really add to the expansive motif of the game.

Overall Eve Online is an enjoyable game.  It emphasizes teamwork and really gives a lot of character tweaking to sink oneís teeth into, but you really need to be patient individual to deal with the mining aspect of the game.  If you can get past that, plenty of good times are in store for you.

- Mr. Nash

(June 22, 2003)

 

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