If you?ve played EA?s Earth and Beyond or Freelancer from Microsoft and are looking for a similar space simulation role-playing game, EVE Online: Revelations fits the description, but doesn?t offer quite the same experience. E&B and Freelancer have one thing in common that made them appeal to the more casual player, fast-paced, manual piloting space combat. EVE doesn?t rely on this dynamic so much, however; rather it focuses more on the economy such as buying and selling, mining, and item production. Of course, there is combat and manual piloting in EVE, but the two are largely automated, with the ship responding slowly (albeit more realistically) to player commands. To turn your ship, you simply press the left mouse button in the direction you want to turn and your ship will eventually follow and just about ever operation in the game is done using the right or left mouse button. Combat loses some appeal since you basically choose your target by ?locking on? and set your weapons to fire and then watch the battle. There is plenty of challenge to be found once the massive player vs. player battles begin, though. For gamers who enjoy strategy-based space simulations, EVE Online will be much more appealing than to those who are seeking an online universe to conquer through player skill and how fast you can hit buttons. EVE is all about building skills and relationships over time.
The character creation process has many options that impact the type of career you will have as a pilot. Some characters are bread for battle, plain and simple, but there are also options available that allow you to create a character that is adept at mining, trade, crafting, and space combat. There are four main races available for play, with three heritage groups under each. The Amarr Empire is the largest of all the races and is a religious people. The Minmatar Republic is an independent people who keep to themselves. The Gallente Federation believes in free will and human rights and fights for the freedom it holds so dear. Last, but not least, the Caldari State is run by corporations and believes deeply in capitalism. A fifth race called the Jove exists in EVE, but is not currently playable. You must select both a race and heritage group at the start of play that will determine some of your character?s basic starting attributes. Each race has its own strengths and weaknesses and a complete set of ships available to them as well. You will also have the opportunity to customize the looks of your character, from sex to hair color and background. Unlike most massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), however, the looks of this character will be seen primarily you alone since most other players will only see the outside of your ship.
You may further customize your character by allocating points into attributes and skills that will determine how proficient your character is in each area. A trade school must be chosen along with an area of study, for your character. These schools provide the basics for each of three major disciplines. Once a discipline is chosen, you can select a Department, Field, and Specialties for study. The character creation process is quite detailed and it is very important to have an idea of what you desire to do most in EVE prior to creating a character since it can be hard, and take a lot of time and money to develop new skills and attributes after beginning play.
EVE is a unique MMOG in that its economy is completely player driven. Most of the items in the game are player-made and getting the items you need at a price you can afford usually means having connections within a corporation. This being the case, certain equipment is extremely hard to come by and will take a lot of money, called Isk, to purchase. Another fairly unique feature of EVE is the ability to play through the entire game solo. Players earn Isk in many ways including mining and crafting and selling items, though the easiest way to make a buck is by completing missions handed out at the various space stations by agents. Initially, as a new player, you may go through a tutorial mode that introduces you to the controls and options available at bases. This tutorial mode is also where the missions begin with a starting agent. Completing missions that are accepted is essential since a character?s reputation is on the line. Reputation plays a large rule in what missions are available through agents, so building good relationships with agents is wise.
EVE Online is a really deep game. Players interested in crafting items, mining, and trade will find plenty to do. Even better, EVE has setup Corporations, like the guilds of other games that allow players to combine their characters? skills and work together to accomplish great feats of production, sales, and trade. Another up-side to EVE is its in-depth market system that allows players to buy and sell from anywhere in a given region. The downside is if you buy an item half-way across the galaxy, you actually have to travel there to pick it up. There?s no delivery service available, unless you can talk the seller into flying it to you.
Our character and ship was more adept at mining than at combat so we spent much of our time mining and had plenty of Isk to purchase a new ship with a huge cargo hold in just a few hours of play. The real fun begins, however, when you join a corporation and begin to fight along side other players in battles against other player-run corporations that can contain upwards of 50 ships. To fund these exploits and battles, though, a character?s specialties come into play allowing him to make money quickly to get back into the battle. No, joining a corporation and waging war on other players is not essential to the game, but during the hours spent harvesting Isk, relationships with other players will help pass the time more quickly, and corporation events, such as battles, will provide for a more enjoyable experience, overall.
EVE Online has made a name for itself among the ranks of other MMOGs through its exceptional PvP combat system. EVE works pretty much like the real world where anyone can attack another player, but to keep it fun for everyone, a defeated vessel losses only what is aboard at the time of defeat. Items left at a base and Isk remain in the player?s possession. EVE has also created a bounty system where players who commit frequent offenses against other players (attacking player ships without warrant) have a cash bounty on their head, paid to anyone who can bring them down. We saw some bounties of upwards of $1 billion ? we don?t want to know what those players did to deserve that.
Corporations play an even greater role than simply war and a player community system, though both of these are important roles of corporations. Corporations are lead by a sole player called the CEO who may be voted into position by other players that are part of the corporation (known as shareholders), though the CEO is often the person who begins the corporation. The CEO has the power to declare war, buy and sell corporation assets, and establishing trade relationships with other corporations. The way corporations trade is by building space stations where players may dock and buy and sell goods.
Corporations may declare war on each other by earning a majority vote from shareholders. Once war is declared, members of the corporations at war may freely attack one another without adverse repercussions from the local NPC police and the bounty office. A war ends when one corporation surrenders and the results are never pretty. The losing corporation can lose money, trade relations, or even their entire base full of their assets.
To progress in EVE Online, players must purchase and train skills and level them up. Certain ships and ship upgrades will be unavailable to players that do not have a certain skill or meet the skill level requirement to use the components. For instance, we had to train skills in engineering and shield upgrades to install a new shield system for our ship. We also had to purchase certain skills that would allow us to upgrade to a new class of ship. Skills range in price starting at a few thousands ranging into the millions. Each skill also takes time to level, and skills may only be trained one at a time. Since our character was developing his mining abilities we decided to continue training this skill and found that training our character?s mining skill to level four will take nearly half a month of real time! Thankfully, once a skill is set to train, it will continue even when you are logged out of the game. This is great for the player who doesn?t have a lot of time to play, but still desires to progress through the game.
EVE?s graphics and sound effects are both decent and live up to the outer space environment of the game. We ran into several graphical issues while running EVE Online that included our ship becoming stuck on some space stations and the burning fire from our ships engines would often not display while in flight. One would think a game that has been existence since 2003 would not have such problems. It would also seem that the game?s patching process is not yet down to a science since we incurred extended downtime during the latest patch.
EVE Online focuses much on the economy, but violence is still prevalent in the game?s ship to ship combat. There is no blood or gore in this title, though, and ships simply blow up when they are destroyed, leaving players behind in a small capsule, which allows them to return to a space station and purchase a new ship. As with any game that allows players to talk with one another, language can be a problem in EVE Online, but we found most of the talk to be clean both from players and NPCs. The worst word we found spoken by an NPC was d***. EVE does not contain a language filter on the player chat channels in-game, so the sky?s the limit with regard to player language and comments.
EVE Online won?t appeal to everyone given its player-driven economy and genre. Space simulations (even in RPG form) have a tendency to be some of the least played games of all the genres available, though EVE has a respectable player base that is growing. The game averages 15-30,000 players logged in at any given time, and since there is only one normal game server (there is also a beta testing server open), all these players are playing together. EVE Online is a strong title that has been around for some time, starting in Europe and just recently being made available in the states, players looking for a mature MMOG set in outer space should check out EVE Online: Revelations. For those that are still skeptical, a 14-day free trial is available to download direct from the EVE Online web site
and will provide enough play time to test out the game prior to purchase.
» By Stephan Mack, Plain Games. Published 4/14/2007 12:45:33 AM.