Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 6, 2003
Buy 'EVE ONLINE': PC
A few months ago, we had a chance to see "Eve Online" in action, but now we have an opportunity to see how the game has since evolved. Although this preview is based on the beta version, the game has gone gold and can be expected in stores on May 6th. I am pretty sure that the final version will pretty closely resemble the game that I've been playing for the past few weeks … just without the bugs.
Few massive multiplayer online role playing games have strayed from the tried and true formula that was introduced by the game that defined online RPGs, Everquest. CCP's "Eve Online" is one of these few brave souls. Let's see how it fared ...
In Eve, you take command of your own spaceship and set out in the universe seeking fame and fortune. Eve is one of the first games to rely solely on the user base to run the game's internal workings, such as trade and manufacturing. There is still the underlying aspect of NPC merchants but rather than a person selling the goods, it is a space station, where everything is bought, sold, and manufactured. Certain space stations specialize in different items so you usually have to cruise around to find a station selling an item you are looking for.
As with all MMORPGs, when you begin Eve, you select your character race, looks, and skills. Unlike predecessors which required certain skill levels before being able to access portions of the game, Eve allows the user to explore every nook and cranny of the universe. You are only limited by your skill level, which allows you to do more things, such as piloting bigger and more powerful ships. All it costs to increase your skill is time: you no longer have worry about experience points or walking around a zone to see which of the decent experience camps are open, which cuts down on what I call the "jerk" factor. The jerk factor is those people that purposely piss you off by being a general pain in the ass and hogging a good camp for himself and his buddies. But I digress. At the character creation screen, you can select a number of skills that will be your basic skill set. As you play more and more, you can acquire more skills. Now I am not sure if you can naturally acquire new skills, but in my experience, I have seen that you have to purchase new skills, which come with a hefty price tag.
Your main focus in Eve is to acquire money, and lots of it. With money comes power, and with power comes domination. There are a number of ways to acquire money, but I will only elaborate on a few. The easiest way is to mine for minerals which you can refine and then sell at a higher price. Another way to acquire money is to join a corporation. Many of the corporations in the game a player-made so you will be joining a band of players that share the same goal. My personal favorite way to make money is to become a bounty hunter. Players can place bounties on other players, and anyone can accept the job of hunting you down and killing you. However, just because you are a bounty hunter doesn't mean that someone can't place a bounty on your head. Many of the other ways to make money are broken or not fully implemented yet.
If you are worried about overcrowding, think again. The Eve universe can be described as gigantic. There is no telling how many systems there will be. At final launch, I think there will be like 5,000 systems online. 5000! Many of the systems are simply gargantuan so there will be plenty of space for all. If you don't feel like sharing, I heard that you will be able to buy ENTIRE STAR SYSTEMS!
Ship control and combat is a simple point and click method. You target your enemy, lock on and fire. How effective you are in a fight as well as regular day-to-day operations again depends on your skills. The level of interaction during fights is somewhat limited, but then again, I seem to remember just entering attack mode or clicking my spell button and letting your character do the work in those other MMORPGs. The fights are certainly fun to watch. A couple of 220mm Vulcan guns and defense missiles chopping down an enemy gives me so much viewing satisfaction.
The gameplay is totally open-ended, and there are no rules. It's pretty much player versus player all the time, and everyone and everything can be attacked from the get-go. You can play with a group of friends and start a corporation or be loner, working for yourself and your own personal gain. Now you might be wondering about whether the PVP concept will suck for newbies. Do not worry, for CCP has you covered. Each "zone" system has a security rating, with a 1.0 being the safest you can hope for. If you are attacked by other players in a 1.0 system, which are patrolled by NPC space forces, the cops will be on the attacker like a cheap suit. The space forces won't stop harassing them until they leave for a system with a lower security rating, work to repair their rating, are destroyed, or simply make a new character. Speaking of characters, you can have a total of three different ones, which frankly, are too many. Once you start a character, the Eve universe is so large and inviting that you will never be left with nothing to do, and you won't want to start another character.
Graphics and audio in Eve are some of the best yet. The textures and general appearance of the ships, space stations, and surrounding universe are spectacular. If you have ever seen pictures from the Hubble space telescope of distant solar systems or solar events such as a star collapsing, the picture quality in eve is comparable to that. Each system has its own look and feel that truly gives you the feeling of traveling through space. The audio is the best anyone can hope for, with the roar of your engines, the explosion of shells impacting armor plating, and the rumbling of warp speed only adding to the greatness of Eve.
I don't think this preview will ever end because there is just so much to discover and experience in Eve. As it is a subscription-based game, you know that they will be constantly adding new features or maybe implementing some suggestions from the players. I have just scratched the surface of Eve in this preview, and I am totally anticipating the launch of the retail version. I think Eve has what it takes to become as popular as or even more popular than Everquest. I fully intend to buy this game, and I have no problem with the monthly fee. Hope to see you in the game. I will post my handle when launched, in case anybody has a bone to pick with me or just wants to pop in and say hi.