Now with 20% less game!
In two weeks, the bold, the adventurous, the magical and the nerdy will descend
on Las Vegas. And while Vegas is a city that prides itself on catering to strange
individuals and eccentric behavior, they ain't seen nothin' yet. What is this
fearsome plague? It's the Everquest
Fans from around the world show up to... well... talk about Everquest,
I guess. Many of them get
dressed up as their characters,
and Sony certainly encourages them. It's not surprising that they do, since
Sony has made a huge pile of money off the very successful Everquest game, all
thanks to fans
those of you living under the Rock of Oblivion, Everquest is a massively
multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). You play online in a world populated
by thousands of other human players. You can join up to adventure together,
or trade for goods, or argue, or fight, or just about anything. On top of the
regular game price, you also must pay $10 per month for your account. With 400,000
EQ players, that's a lot of cash every month.
Sony hopes to move that success over to the PS2 with Everquest Online Adventures.
This is a totally separate game and you do not play in the same world with the
PC players. In fact, there are quite a few differences between them.
Everquest Online Adventures (EOA) takes place in the world of
Norrath, only 400 years before the world of the PC game. Veterans of EQ
will recognize many of the landmarks of the continent of Antonica, which is
called Tunaria in the time of EOA. But don't expect to find everything
the same; a lot can change in 400 years and that horrifying, evil dungeon you
are familiar with may have once been a thriving city.
There are many minor rule changes, too may to be explained here, but most
of the role playing elements in EOA will be very familiar; in fact, little
has changed since Gary Gygax first got his hands on a Xerox machine. Pick a
character, kill some orcs, become more powerful. You can choose to be one of
ten different races, although four of those are different sorts of humans and
two are elves. For some height variation, you can also try your hand at playing
a tiny gnome or a huge troll.
Fourteen different classes await you as well, from fighters, rangers, monks and rogues to magicians, enchanters, shamans and clerics. I will never understand why there is always a bard, but every game has them, including this one.
Once you have decided who you are, it's off to the fray! Well, not quite yet,
because EOA features an excellent tutorial for new players where you
learn the basics of the controls and the gameplay mechanics. Exactly what you
need before you get dropped in front of some angry lizards.
And the control is surprisingly good, considering the PC version gets to use the whole keyboard. You move with the left stick and control the camera with the right. Attacking spells, targeting and special abilities are all mapped out smartly using every button on the PS2 controller. But there's one thing you can do with a keyboard that you can't do with a controller: type.
is a very social game, and you won't get far without friends. In some ways it's
just a very, very complex chatroom. But your chatting will be sharply limited
by the dozen or so quick phrases you can choose with the L2 button. You can
bring up a "virtual keyboard" to laboriously type in messages, but what you
really need is an actual keyboard. Fortunately, you can plug any USB keyboard
into the PS2 and the game recognizes it immediately.
There is no remedy for the graphics, however. The game just doesn't look very
good. The textures are bland and the characters look blocky, but the landscapes
are the worst, barren and boring. Things get a little better underground, but
this is still not a pretty game. One improvement over the PC version, though,
is that there are no loading times when you change "areas." The graphics stream
in continuously, no matter how far you travel.
But that may be EOA's only advantage over its PC cousin. It's what's
missing from the game that really hurts. There are no skills other than those
related to combat. You cannot make armor or swords, you cannot learn to cook,
craft a necklace, or weave a beautiful garment. So fighting things is the only
game in town.
And you cannot fight other players, either. EOA is completely non-PVP
(player vs. player). That means no player can hurt another player anywhere,
anytime (Note to self: Send this suggestion to the UN.) What good is
a rogue who cannot steal? I know that most of the Everquest PC servers
are also non-PVP, but it's the threat of violence, no matter how distant, that
keeps MMORPG games fun in the long run.
Sadly, there is really no threat at all in EOA. There is no way to
lose your possessions, power or abilities, and the penalties for death are very
minor. You simply acquire an "experience debt" that can be quickly paid off.
Speaking of which, you'll need a nice chunk of change to get EOA up
and running. Even if you already have the Network Adapter and a USB keyboard,
you still need to fork over the retail cost of the game, then an additional
10 bucks a month. That's a serious commitment to a not-serious-enough game.
Everquest Online Adventures is really just "Everquest Lite." It's not
a bad game and I give it credit for being the first true console MMORPG, but
it gets boring to play since you can only go forward. It's for people who never
want to be presented with any real frustrations or creative challenges. It's
a shallow world, with far fewer of the life options that made Norrath so engrossing.
Take the depth out of Everquest, and you just end up with Statbuilder.