eXTReMe Tracker

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Masters of the Past : Planetside

In a feature stolen directly from John Walker's pages of PC Gamer, in 'Masters of the Past' (or alternatively, 'DuBBle has no original ideas today') I will review a golden oldie of a game with a sense of teary-eyed nostalgia. I choose Planetside today because this is a game that has swallowed more of my precious man-hours than I care to admit, as well as being a darn fine, unique and under-appreciated work of design genius to boot.
Planetside is a Massively Multiplayer Online First Person Shooter, to my knowledge the only MMOFPS currently in existence. You fight for one of three sides in an eternal conflict over an alien world - a failed colonisation attempt on behalf of Earth whereby an expeditionary force was sent to the new world via an artificial wormhole but unable to return. Divided by ideological fractures, the earthlings fight a never ending war spanning continents over control of bases; importantly, these bases contain 'spawn tubes' - a means to revive any soldier killed in combat at the nearest friendly spawn tube. So essentially we have a game of Battlefield played in a persistent world with three-way battles of hundreds of soldiers and fought in varied natural environments with futuristic technology.
The greatest pleasure of Planetside for myself was playing alongside my 'outfit' (think Guild) and staying in communication with them over Teamspeak. The thrill of coordinating a combined assault on a heavily defended outpost, of jumping out of a dropship and hurtling down to earth alonside your squad, of fighting a defiant, hopeless, last stand battle against the clock and winning - the teamwork of a good outfit like Vanu Corporation on the Werner server gave me sheer pleasure.
Not to say that there weren't problems with the game. Waiting fifteen minutes in defence for the base to shift to your team, only for no enemy attack to come against your squad could be deadly boring (teamspeak helped to while away these moments, as well as providing an opportunity to get to know your outfit mates). Several bugs often resulted in vital members of the squad crashing out at inopportune moments such as travelling in-between continents via a warpgate. And, most sadly, the size of the Planetside community is not what it once was, resulting in battles that are lacking in that 'Wow' factor that I experienced when first playing the game.
You can join the Planetside Reserves here for free. I haven't tried this yet, but the website claims you can play entirely for free until March 21st 2007. I'd be interested to hear if this is true because it sounds like an amazing offer. There used to be a free trial but it only lasted 7 days.

No comments: