EVE Online Review Part Two
You can check out the first part of the review here.
Lastly for the gameplay talk we have economy. I haven’t done much in the way of manufacturing, trading, or market jockeying, but I’m fair impressed with what I know of the system. While there isn’t a complicated crafting mini-game like you find in games like Vanguard or A Tale in the Desert, EVE has its own level of complication in a player-generated market in a shardless world – this is to say that there is only one EVE server, where everyone plays and trades together. It’s interesting to watch natural trade-hubs form (Jita, anyone?) and to watch how the market fluctuates when new technology becomes available.
One of my favorite parts of the economy is the contract system, a completely unique trade system. While there’s a normal market system which allows players to buy/sell common items, the contract system allows players to create auctions, sell uncommon items, or sell items in groups. In addition, players can set up courier contracts where player A puts up a collateral and carries player B’s goods from one place to another.
During my first 14 days of gameplay I was lucky enough to find a group of people committed to helping newbies. I had, in an ignorant sort of way, assumed this was the norm for the EVE community…boy was I wrong.
As fantastic as the open-ended game world is, it allows for a brutal brand of honesty not found in many MMOs. Scamming and griefing are allowed in the game so long as exploits aren’t used, and even in hi-sec systems you have to watch your back. Players have found ways of griefing and scamming via the contract system, the corporation system, jettison cans while mining, and so much more. I won’t get into great detail, but the greater population of the game seems to have a general attitude of, “if you aren’t my friend you are my income.”
If you are looking for a friendly community inside of EVE, there are pockets of nice people across the game but you’ll always have your run-ins with griefers. Be forewarned, though, that EVE is a tough road to walk alone…unless you plan to use several accounts, you’ll always have to outsource unless you join a corporation.
To support the community, CCP has provided a large number of interesting UI elements; from contracts (mentioned earlier) to corp windows, there’re a lot of things you can do in EVE that I haven’t seen done elsewhere.
The corporation window, for example, allows you to view the corporation’s description (written by the CEO), a map of all of their offices, the corporation’s attributes (including alliance status, members, founding members, and tax rate), their alliance history dating back to the creation of the corporation, and any standings they may have set that pertain to you. Of course, all of these outward features have inner toggles; corporations can set a default tax rate (aka a 15% tax would automatically take 15% of members’ income earned from killing ‘rats in missions or asteroid belts) to support the corporation’s workings.
In addition to the corporation window, EVE has an in-game browser that allows you to visit websites that are properly formatted. There’s no need to alt-tab in EVE…you can Google from in game, and look at most corporation/EVE utility sites!
The downside to this complexity is…well…the complexity. When I first started playing EVE, item descriptions might as well be in Sanskrit. While I’m slowly learning to adapt over time, the UI is a huge learning curve in and of itself.
Graphics, Music, & Sound
Your average MMO world is created by the presence and interaction of art assets: trees, castles, houses, roads, rivers, mountains, and so much more. In EVE, the opposite is true – the majority of environment and ambience is actually the lack of objects: space. Lots and lots of empty space.
It’s realism in a sci-fi space-based game, and it might sound a little boring, but the CCP development team turns this potential disadvantage around to create one of the most beautiful and stimulating visual journeys I’ve experienced in an MMO. What EVE lacks in quantity it makes up in quality: the ships, stations, gates and other active assets are absurdly well done. Every ship I’ve flown or looked at has impressed me with its individuality and attention to detail. For example, I’m docked right now at a station staring at my Maelstrom (battleship); the solar panels are reflecting the walls of the station in a distorted ripple, and I could spend an hour at the least counting the individual weapons on my ship.
While our last EVE review, done in ’06, gave the graphics (nearly) equal praise with a 9 out of 10, the latest EVE update Trinity revved up the graphics to a whole new level.
As stunning as the visual aspects are, the game’s sound has fallen a bit short for me. My sound was promptly turned off as the first volley of missiles nearly defeaned me; even after turning it down the effects were too annoying to leave on. I’ve heard other players praise the in-game music but I’ve never had any real attachment; maybe it’s my propensity to jump on voice-chat or tune into some MP3, but it’s not unknown for me to leave game music on when its truly fantastic.
I’ve yet to run into graphical lag, but I’ve seen my share of server-side lag in populated systems such as Jita. I visited Jita once when about 800 people were in system; my character locked up and I had to log on an alt to petition for a move. While I’ve not experienced the big 0.0 battles yet, I’ve heard similar horror stories for those 400 v 400 battles; players will jump into the system then wait 10 to 30 minutes for it to load, only to find themselves staring at their wrecked ship. One of the most often voiced EVE complaint is about the serverside lag; while the single-cluster model is awesome in terms of economy and community, it’s a drag on the performance.
Luckily, as mentioned above, there are GMs to petition to and overall my experience with them has been wonderful. Stuck petitions were handled within 15 minutes; my one mission-bug related petition was addressed within two hours. I’m well impressed by their support so far!
Conclusions, Pros and Cons
Conclusions, Pros and Cons
EVE is one of the most complex games I’ve sunk my teeth into. It’s an infinitely gratifying space-sandbox where you can do just about anything, assuming you can take the time to learn the gameplay in a mostly-hostile environment…yeah, newbies are fair prey for griefing and scamming. The technological constraints (performance) are a downer, but the graphics and gameplay opportunities are mind-blowing in their scope.
Overall Score: 8.5