Fly me to the moon… Preview

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.