Planetside went live in May 2003 and after six years, the war still rages on. If you are not familiar with Planetside, it is the closest thing to an online war you will ever see. Most online FPS games have maps and time limits to achieve goals. However in this game, it is all about gaining ground by taking over bases. Each faction has a base which cannot be conquered; from there these factions fan out taking one base at a time. Each base must be connected back to your main base which creates a lattice of base connections. At the end of the day, control of the bases is tallied up and a victor is declared. Then all the bases are reset to neutral and war begins again.
The action is on par with any other online FPS on the market but I like this one better because it really feels like a war vs. ten players on a map for five minutes. There are a lot more things that make Planetside stand out above all the other online FPS games out there. This includes not only land vehicles but also a variety of aerial vehicles. It also has a certification system which allows players to not only customize their characters but re-specialize if they should get tired of the same old combat role.
Planetside has three major factions with a pretty good back story for each one. The basic story is that the Terran Republic, who has ruled man kind for over one thousand years, found a planet by going though a wormhole. In time, this wormhole collapsed, stranding the soldiers on the new planet. As they explored the planet, alien technology was found and some Terran who wanted to study this technology was told to cover it up. In time, members of the Terran left the Republic and created the Vanu Sovereignty. The Vanu was dedicated to studying this alien technology. In time these two factions began fighting each other. While the fighting raged between them, groups of soldiers who were not happy with either the Terran or Vanu broke off and formed the New Conglomerate. This is a very high level overview on this so there is a lot more to it and is at least interesting.
The Black Ops came into just over a year ago but are reserved for events only. This is not a playable faction and its members are selected at random. It is very hard to get selected into this faction.
Players start off with a few certification points which will allow you to get skills and use various weapons. As you progress through your Battle Rank, you are awarded more certification points. You can use these points to gain access to better equipment and armor. Some of the skills need prerequisites and equipment gets more advanced as you gain more certifications.
You can forget one skill every six hours and reallocate those points. However, forgetting a basic skill will reclaim points from all the other skills. So you can change your character daily to learn how to use other skills or fill in for a role needed for battle.
Combat is pretty much what you would expect in an FPS. It is fast paced and you can zerg or use battle strategy. This game also has a combined arms element and if you can get groups of players working together you can dominate the battle field. Sometimes getting players to work together is like herding cats but you will see many outfits, Planetside's version of guilds doing this in combat.
There are tons of weapons to choose from and range from shotguns to flamethrowers. There is also some alien weapon technology you can use but overall the weapons are pretty balanced.
Each of the factions has a group of special weapons that you can only get being that faction. The Terran republic gets a nice mini gun while the New Conglomerate gets a shotgun pistol. You can loot these weapons after killing a person wielding it. So if you are lucky you can find some of the weapons from other factions and use them in combat.
Like most MMOs, Planetside offers support skills to use on the battlefield. Medic, Combat Engineer, and hacker are the main support roles. The support roles can be very effective in combat. Combat engineers can build turrets in various places along with repairing armor, vehicles, and terminals. Hackers can hack terminals allowing your faction to use terminals in enemy bases along with taking control of bases and watch towers. Recently, a virus option was added to hackers and this allows uploading viruses into enemy bases that can help cripple the enemy. Medics can not only heal but revive a dead player. This can come in handy during the many hall fights that happen while fighting for control of bases.