basis of PlanetSide, as stated above, is a 24-hour war for domination
of the planet Auraxis. A "pay-to-play" service, the game includes
a free 30-day trial subscription out of the box. After the 30 days expire,
$12.99 USD monthly fee is charged, should the player decide to continue
taking part in the action. The price may seem steep, but for all the goodies
promised after the initial release of the game, it's quite modest for those
who are able to afford it. That brings up another point-far and away, PlanetSide
packs the most new and innovative features this reviewer has seen in any
game, ever. With a slew of weapons, unique environments, and paths for the
player to take (not to mention the ungodly amount of post-release plans),
it's no wonder the game is catching on so well with gamers worldwide.
When the game loads up for the first time,
the player is asked to create an account with Sony's Station.com. Soon
after, upon joining a server, the player is asked to create a character
and a faction to side with. That
decision is permanent for that character. However, the player can create
another character if he or she decides to, up to a certain limit. During
the character creation process, the player can choose the type of voice
desired, the face of the character, and, of course, the name of the character.
As a general rule when creating your first character, the New Conglomerate
focuses on hard-hitting weapons (with less emphasis on speed), while the
Terran Republic is vice versa, trying to get as much matter out of their
weapons in the shortest amount of time. The Vanu Sovereignty is more or
less a balance between the other two.
consists of ten continents (not including the sanctuaries, which we'll
get to in a bit), each possessing its own distinctive characteristics,
not to mention strategic advantages and disadvantages. Among the different
"worlds" are frosty winter wonderlands (read: tactical combat
arenas), desert basins, and humid rainforests. Painstakingly detailed,
they span vast areas without even the slightest sign of repetition. The
best thing about all this diversity has to be the "too good to be
true" loading times. It takes only a matter of seconds to load the
entire landmass, and that's the only time that players have to wait for
mind numbing load sequences.
In addition to the ten "open"
continents are three sanctuaries. Sanctuaries are the small base continents
that are home to each respective faction fighting for control of Auraxis.
Sanctuaries are protected areas where weapons cannot be used and only
members of the appropriate side are allowed in/out. When players join
the game for the first time or recall themselves, this is where they go.
It is the player's first combat preparation resource, the staging area
for squads before they journey into combat, and the training area for
cadet soldiers. More typically, sanctuaries are the link to the rest of
Auraxis for the three clans.
leveling protocol in the game is actually quite simple and very close
to those used in other games. Using a ranking system, players are judged
on battle and command experience. For example, if Player A terminates
Player B, Player A gains a certain amount of battle experience points,
based on a few variables (i.e. "uniqueness" of the kill, location,
combat conditions at the time). Moving on, if Player A is commander of
a squad (to be discussed later) and his squad captures a structure, Player
A gains command experience, and eventually command rank. It is much more
difficult to increase in command rank than with battle rank, but the benefits
are much greater. The only thing wrong with the whole leveling scheme
at the moment is the ceiling set by the developers, which was set to a
mere twenty-much too low for many tastes. This is supposedly on the developers'
One of the many new features in PlanetSide
is the certification system. Other games before it had similar forms of
certifications, but none more organized and logical than this. Basically,
all players begin the game with four certification points. These can be
spent on (you guessed it) certifications, or "licenses," to
use certain types of equipment. That equipment can include weaponry, armor,
vehicles, and specialties. Once the player has run out or no longer has
enough certification points to buy another certification, he must wait
until he goes up another battle rank, when another point will be awarded
him. Players may also choose to accumulate their certification points
in an effort to get something more valuable.
there's only one other thing special on the leveling scene besides certification
points: the idea of implants. No, these aren't the implants
that you hear about on television all the time. The kinds of implants
in the game are combat ability enhancers. Think of them as special tricks
that soldiers can do to give themselves an edge on the battlefield. Among
many others, they include Advanced Targeting and Advanced Regeneration.
When a player achieves Battle Ranks 6, 12, and 18, another implant slot
becomes available (starting with the first, at BR6).
If weapons were meals, PlanetSide
would be serving up seven courses. Actually, it'd be closer to 29, but
who's counting? All things considered, the developers made sure of the
fact that trigger-happy players are satisfied for quite some time. However,
to describe and explain them all would result in an extremely long-winded
review, so all but the most important will be omitted.
or less utility tools, there are three that fit in the class of importance.
Not packing any firepower whatsoever, they are used to complete more practical
tasks, such as maintenance and outer defense construction. First comes
the Remote Electronics Kit. The REK, as it's usually called, is used to
hack enemy consoles for temporary friendly use in the war effort. It is
more commonly used to infiltrate and capture enemy structures. There's
also the Advanced Combat Engineering (ACE) Device. It's used by engineers
to do many things, among which are planting explosives and motion detectors.
For soldiers of Command Rank 2 and above, the Command Uplink Device becomes
available, enabling the use of resources found hovering high above Auraxis
in the form of defensive satellites. One of the most convenient tools
a player will find in the heat of battle is the medical applicator. Those
with the Medic certification can use it to heal wounded friendlies when
there is no other means to do so.
Like some other titles released in the past
(think Tribes), PlanetSide players will find more than
a few different types of armor to defend their vital organs against barrages
of ammunition. The standard-issue ExoSuit is the basic protection for
soldiers. After re-spawning, this is the type of armor the player wears.
One step up from that is the Agile ExoSuit (deceivingly named), which
sacrifices a small amount of speed for increased protection. The best
armor money can buy without moving into a completely different category
of soldier, the Reinforced ExoSuit, is slow but very sturdy against enemy
attack. This type of armor is the most common among field grunts. There's
one last type of "regular" armor: the Infiltration Suit. Akin
to wearing a coating of thermal undergarments to ward off the onslaught
of an army, this setup boasts absolutely no armor protection, but allows
the user to become completely invisible when not moving, and still relatively
cloaked even when mobile.
of its own paragraph is the MAX armor configuration. Essentially a tank's
worth of steel and Kevlar to boot, this is the king of defensive (not
to mention offensive) capabilities. Perfect for protecting friendly hackers
and mission-critical points, the only vice to this suit is the fact that
it's completely worthless when standing up to armor-piercing fire. Each
faction possesses at least two types of MAX's: anti-infantry and anti-vehicular.
Of course, like almost everything else in PlanetSide, each different
MAX requires a certification to use.
Now that we know about all this butt-kickin'
hardware, where do we get it? There's basically a terminal for everything
you need. Weaponry and armor can be changed (and can even be saved as
favorites) via the Equipment Terminals; to heal during long fights, use
the Medical Terminal; to fetch a vehicle, use the obviously-named Vehicle
Terminal (there are two separate terminals for air and land vehicles);
manage implants in the Implant Terminal; and finally, take care of Certifications
at the Certification Terminals. There are also two special types of terminals
that serve more important purposes. There are door terminals, which guard
against enemy entry (unless they are hacked), and Control Consoles, which
determine the side that a facility is aligned with.
help ease and quicken transports across entire continents, the development
team put in a plethora of vehicles, from one-person buggies to heavy tanks.
Once again, there are too many vehicles and not enough time to write about
them all. Consider this a "surprise" for if you go out and buy
the game. After all, there has to be some suspense left in the review...
Also worth a very honorable mention is the
phenomenal implementation of squad tactics and warfare. The game includes
an integrated squad system, where up to ten players can join together
and share experience points gained in battle equally, thus making it easier
to move up in rank, and get things done in general. An extension to the
system adds even more value to the game-outfits. Outfits are really just
glorified squads, but can have many more members, and stay organized even
after players leave the server. This feature works wonders when attempting
to construct a group of committed players (a clan). In addition, outfits
get a bonus when the leader is of Command Rank 2 or greater. Through the
use of the Command Uplink Device, outfit leaders can harness resources
hovering in orbit over Auraxis to deliver an advantage to their side.
clans and player associations, especially here at GameClubCentral, use
a form of voice communication to better enable the players to coordinate
plans of action. It can make worlds of difference, especially when typing
a few letters can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Many
times, though, typing just won't cut it-that's why the developers of PlanetSide
were so nice as to include an integrated voice chat system. This comes
as a huge blow (and most likely a challenge) to the gaming market, which
has seen very little of this in the recent past. A large percentage of
player organizations will be sure to thank the genius that came up with
that little idea. On a related note, the voice chat technology used in
PlanetSide is actually the newest incarnation of the popular
It seems the only blemish on the record
of PlanetSide is a slight problem with latency in crowded areas.
Early after the release, the game became clearly unplayable. Since then,
it has been resolved for the most part, but those on a dial-up connection
are advised to use a very high-quality modem. In times to come, the issue
will most likely be perfected even more, but it cuts the mustard fairly
well for now.