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FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437     In all the talk of graphical downgrades no one seems much preoccupied with 'why?'.  Why build something and then proceed to tear it down, piece by piece, in the hope that ever more diminished expectations about the final product won't be severe enough to...

Earth & Beyond Preview

Brian_Gee By:
Brian_Gee
01/07/04
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE  
PLAYERS 2- 2 
PUBLISHER EA/Westwood 
DEVELOPER  
RELEASE DATE  

Fly me to the moon...

When I was a young lad, the stars were filled with adventure and excitement. Han Solo dodged the Empire while running guns and drugs, Captain Kirk explored the far reaches of the galaxy, and Alex Rogan played video games to fight off the evil Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada to save the Earth. How cool would it be to roam the stars, to run arms to the rebels of Derra IV, to blast the hell out of invading Giganto Planet Attackers?

Well, soon we'll all find out thanks to Westwood Studios and EA Games. Earth & Beyond: it's the only way to fly!

Speaking of upgrades, your ship can be tweaked to your heart's delight. Each modification will be visually represented and as you grow more powerful, so will your ship. I love showing off new toys...

Your character will also be highly customizable with plenty of different facial pieces and accessories to choose from. Tall, dark and handsome? Short, light and ugly? It's all up to you. When the universe is as big as this one is, you've definitely got to dress to impress.

And impress you must, as the community will have a direct influence on the game's ever changing storyline. Also, mysterious cataclysmic and other world events will crop up and directly impact the game's universe.

Interestingly enough, the Westwood guys have gotten hold of Doug Chiang, the design director from the Star Wars prequels, to aid in E&B design. What does that mean? It means that Earth & Beyond is going to have some sweet looking ships flying around. Definitely something to look forward to.

You'll also be happy to know that unlike most role playing games, "death" in Earth & Beyond does not equal destruction. One of the things I hated about online RPGs like Diablo and Ultima is that death often meant losing all of your hard fought items. This unfortunate turn of events can happen in a matter of seconds with the simple slip of a spell or push of a wrong button. Then it's back to square one and the last few months of your life have been flushed down the online porcelain bowl of no return.

In E&B, the worst that can happen is your ship getting disabled. From there, all it takes is a little distress call and you'll be towed back to the nearest friendly station for a quick fixer-upper. None of your cargo will be lost, though there will be some kind of experience penalty to pay for being such a lousy captain.

If all of this sounds overwhelming, don't worry, because getting around in the E&B universe is a lot easier than one might think. Just point your cursor in the right direction, hit the thrusters, and you're off. You can even use your ship's warp drives to get you where you need to go even faster. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to fly one of these babies.

The rest of the game's interface is just as easy to manage. Simple drop down menus will give you all the info you need regarding your ship as well as other important items in your cargo hold. All in all, things look like they are coming along great.

Another thing that I'm happy to report is that E&B has been in test since last year. After seeing other massively multiplayer online game launches struggle (*cough* Anarchy Online *cough*), it's refreshing to see a developer take time and care ensuring that things are smooth when the game hits shelves. Let's hope they can pull it off.

If all goes according to plan, Earth & Beyond could be the perfect game to nurture your inner star pilot. Prepare yourself - this ship is scheduled to launch late spring.


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