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Earth and Beyond

Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Westwood Studios
Developer: EA Games
Media: CD/2
Players: Massively Multiplayer

Graphics & Sound:

For those of you who were testing out the Beta version of this game, suffice it to say that the new graphics make Earth and Beyond a totally different experience. The ship designs are not of an aesthetic nature, but they do look good. Not the only pretty things floating out in the interstellar medium, the ships are complemented by huge space stations, which are in turn, dwarfed by all manners of celestial bodies, including planets. There's not much else quite like flying next to a giant space station with Mars filling the screen behind it all.

The sound effects are also impressive, though not as stunning as the graphics themselves. It's kind of hard to follow up an act like these visuals, but the sound is not bad in the end. The music is also well done, however falls under the same category as the effects, which is good enough.


Earth and Beyond is set in a futuristic universe where an uneasy peace is holding together three very distinct races, the Progen, Jenquai, and the Terrans. As you enter this new universe, you will be asked to choose one of these races. Each is centered on a certain trait, whether it is war, trade, or technology. Depending on the type of game you like to play, deciding on a race is a pivotal role in creating your character.

As you enter your brave new world, you will have to go through some rights of passage. These early missions teach you the ropes, and also can level you up early on. Though they are optional, if you haven't gone through them yet, you'll want to take the time here.

Once the reigns have been dropped, you can do as you will in the universe. Depending on what you do, though, at least one of three skills will be increased. Exploration, combat, and trade can all be developed to increase your overall level, and every action in the game is related to one of these three traits. Certain ones will rise faster than others, depending on your racial orientation, but with a little effort, any of them can be increased.

Going at it alone is possible, but teamwork is encouraged, especially through player interaction with one another. Joining with a group of players will yield better experience, and as a side effect, usually better protection. This is not only a good tactic early on, but more experienced players can team up and take on some really tough missions.

Joining computer-controlled factions is also possible, but if you're not careful, your own race could end up hating you. This would not only alienate you from your friends, but could land you in the middle of all three races as a target. This would seriously limit your ability to get missions, which would in turn hinder your leveling up.


MMORPG's are usually as hard as the player wants them to be. Getting the hang of it is always a little unusual, but Earth and Beyond treats the new player well, holding their hand until they are confident enough with their skills. As is usual with these games, gaining levels at first is an easy task, but becomes increasingly more difficult as the game progresses. The only real hard part will be working to gain levels at first, as you're not strong enough to go do anything really fun, and you're left to shooting drones for a while.

Game Mechanics:

Don't be fooled by the visuals, Earth and Beyond is not a space sim. You travel through the vacuum with a point and click system, and if you want to traverse greater distances, consulting your navigational map is the next step. Here, you click on the waypoints you want to go to, and then hit your warp drive, letting your ship do the rest.

Combat, thankfully enough, isn't turn based. Instead, your attacking abilities are limited to how much power your ship has. Most weapons use power by the shot, so if you want to be a killing machine, customizing your ship with a better power supply is a must. Likewise, traveling will demand better engines, and trading goods with other people will force you to increase your negotiating skills.

If you're looking for an online community other than that of the fantasy role playing variety, Earth and Beyond is definitely worth a look. However, it is still a MMORPG, and still suffers from a case of forcing the player to do a lot of work for little gain. If you're not prepared to pay monthly fees for this type of experience, stick to console games. Otherwise, if you work hard enough at it, the benefits should very much outweigh the harms.

-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 98/ME/2K/XP, 500 MHz Processor, 128 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, 2 Gigabytes Free Hard Disk Space, 32 MB Direct3D Capable Video Card, 56 Kbps Internet Connection

Test System:

Windows 98, 1.4GHz AMD Athlon, GeForce 2 mx 32MB video card, 40 gig hard drive, 56x CD-ROM, 256MB DDR Ram, Sound Blaster Live! sound card, T1 Internet connection

Windows Earth 2150: Lost Souls Windows Emergency Room: Code Red

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated