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EVE Online

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Interactive
Developer: CCP Games
Media: CD/1
Players: Massively Multiplayer
Genre: MMORPG

Graphics & Sound:

EVE Online does not have lush jungles, green countryside, dark caves, or towering castles that will make you gawk. Somehow the developers took the motto of 'less is more' and turned the vast emptiness of space into a work of art. Most of the places you can visit in EVE are solar systems, each one different from the rest. Stars of different sizes and color, planets, asteroid belts, and stellar phenomena populate these areas, and just when you feel like the tiniest speck in the middle of it all, you can't help but stare in awe at everything.

Apart from the natural occurrences in space, the world of EVE also contains plenty of technological wonders. Space stations of all shapes and sizes will act as your resting areas along your journeys, and inside you will be treated to a rotating view of your hangar. The other side of the coin contains the ships, which have some of the most unique designs ever to grace a game of this stature. Each of the four races have their own line of space craft, which are instantly distinguishable from each other.

Not only is the void filled with physical objects, an audio presence also fills the far reaches of space and helps alleviate the sense of isolation. There are plenty of eerie tunes that can be easily selected for your listening pleasure, or if you want, you can just play some of your mp3's in the background. The sound effects also help greatly here, and whether it's time for mining or fighting, the blaze of your turrets will suddenly make the huge world you're in seem very small.


Gameplay:

EVE Online is a persistent online world comprised of almost 5000 different locations to visit. These locations are solar systems filled with asteroids to mine and space stations to visit. When you first start the game, you'll be asked to choose your race and a bloodline. Each of the four races has two blood lines, and depending on your decisions, your skills will vary from trade, to science, to mining, to being able to command a fleet of ships.

Once in the game, after you go through a brief tutorial on some things that will keep you alive, you're free to roam about on your own. From here, you have a myriad of choices. The school you have graduated from (the one that gave you all those neat skills to start out with) will provide you with an agent who can pay you for various missions that you complete. Working your way up through these agent missions will eventually yield to some big payoffs, but these are all computer controlled and pretty much the most scripted part of the game.

Another popular route is mining. There is always an abundance of asteroids in EVE, and mining these huge floating rocks will give you materials you can either sell or use to make items within the game. It may not be the most fun method of making money, but it is one of the best.

Don't think that this game is short on action. Bounty Hunting can grant millions of dollars per kill, but there are some tough pirates out there. You'll probably be hanging around systems with low security ratings, ones where the local police don't even like to pass through, killing NPC pirates to sharpen your teeth.

Whatever career path you choose for your avatar, you're probably going to be joining one of the many player created corporations. Belonging to one of these is one of the easiest ways to get ahead in the game, as corporations can rent out factories to built equipment, labs to research blueprints for items, and most importantly, friends. The most valuable commodity in EVE is not money, but other people, and the more support you have, the easier things will be.

These corps also serve a much more important purpose in the game, and that is to keep the economy flowing. EVE's economy is totally player driven, which means every monetary action a person takes, no matter how small, will affect everyone else in the game. Market prices for items fluctuate depending on how valuable an item is and how many there are on the market. Corporations will also be able to sell their stock on EVE's virtual stock market.


Difficulty:

EVE is a game that can be as hard or as easy as you want it to be. It is definitely time consuming, no doubt, but depending on your goals, much the same as in real life, will determine how bumpy the road ahead of you will be. As of right now, the galaxy is barely one fifth of the way populated, so running into any vicious player killers isn't too much of a problem, as long as you stay out of solar systems that have low security ratings. The biggest hurdle to overcome will be figuring out how to do everything in the game. The instruction book is far too vague on most issues, and the in game tutorial shows you very few things. Fortunately, the player community is supportive enough that with a few good questions, you'll be on your feet in no time.

Game Mechanics:

EVE is a MMORPG, but treats leveling up in a different manner than most other games of the same genre. Instead of your character gaining levels, they purchase and gain skills. Your character can purchase skill kits just as they would any other commodity in this online world, and then they must spend a certain amount of time training them. The time spent training these skills is done in real time, so you can leave one training while your computer is off.

Traversing the world of EVE is done similarly to games like Jumpgate and Earth and Beyond. Every solar system is connected to other systems via star gates. Your ship can travel around the solar system by warping itself from place to place, and when you want to leave, you simply fly over to a star gate, activate the jump system, and voila, you're at the next solar system.

But what would a persistent online world be without combat? All these other features are nice, but without conflict, the very element that makes us human, the game would be uninteresting and ultimately fail. Fighting in EVE is as simple as locking onto another player in space, whether it be human or NPC, and then firing on them. However, each solar system has a security rating, and the higher the rating the bigger the risk of having the fuzz come down on you like a ton of bricks.

Despite all the cool features, EVE does have some drawbacks, namely the feeling that it hasn't quite come out of Beta yet. It's not the number of bugs in the game, but the number of features that the developers haven't implemented yet. Some corporation abilities, as well as a few bells and whistles like customizing the look of your ship, are nowhere to be seen. However, these flaws are insignificant when compared to what the rest of the game delivers. EVE has the potential to be every arm chair space traveler's dream come true, as long as they give it some time. In a few months when the developers squash most of the bugs and start throwing in scripted events to keep things fresh, there won't be much keeping this game from being perfect. Your space epic awaits you, and it's only a trip to the store away.


-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 98/ME/200/XP, 450 MHz Processor, 128 MB RAM, GeForce 2 or ATI Radeon Video Card, 56K Internet Connection
 

Test System:



Windows XP, 1.4GHz AMD Athlon, GeForce FX 5200 128MB video card, 40 gig hard drive, 56x CD-ROM, 256MB DDR Ram, Sound Blaster Live! sound card, T1 Internet connection

Windows Eurofighter Typhoon Windows Everquest Trilogy

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated