Sony Online Entertainment have recently launched their highly anticipated Free to Play Massively Multiplayer Online First Person Shooter titled Planetside 2 for the PS4. The game, a sequel to the 2003 experiment, had been in development for several years before releasing on the PC in 2012 and has seen mostly positive word of mouth since. For this piece two of our staff, Randy and Chuck, will go head to head as they describe their experiences on the battlefield to bring you a new feature we’re calling Counterviews.
The first thing that caught my attention was the art style and graphics. The art style is old school sci fi, starship trooper-esque, I personally think its a good choice and something different. The graphics are some of the best I have seen in a free to play game, this might not sound like a lot, but it is well deserved. The player models and vehicle detail are quite impressive and the buildings from afar look amazing, but up close some flaws can be seen. (chuck will go into more detail i’m sure). The gunplay isn’t the best, some may say they’re off, but its not terrible. In some ways it just seems like Quake or Unreal Tournament. The concept of the game also drew me in, its not a new or innovative concept, its more of the scale that is presented here. Planetside 2 features multiple platoons going head to head for control of territories, sometimes in packs of hundreds. Many compare it to the PS3 exclusive MAG, minus the main commander giving orders and dropping supplies.
Some might not like being dropped RIGHT into combat when you first start your game, but in many ways its just cool and engaging. What was not fun after that was trying to find my friend who was waiting to play with me, in some ways I wish you could just spawn to a player in your squad equivalent to Battlefield 3. When we found each other and that was all sorted out we took to the skies, as my friend tried to show off his piloting skills and went about diving us to the ground. I was quite disappointed when I found out that the aircraft we were in only held three players (Pilot, Middle Gunner, and Tail Gunner). Once we got accustomed to flying I manned the middle turret and rained hell on the enemies infantry and tanks, while chuck attempted to shoot at aircraft behind us.
One thing I must point out is the map. At first for me it was quite confusing but, once I explored it a bit more, I began to understand the scope and size of the battlefield in front of us. Even when viewing the map stories are told. You see small squads going behind enemy lines trying to distract the opposition(Us), than you can watch as the font lines are being held by teammates. Finding the territories your team needs help in breaking or defending and seeing the tides turn for or against you is exciting. My first playthrough was more of a learning experience, and with that I requested my friend take us to where the least amount of action was. Once I got acquainted to the feel of the game, then we rolled out in a group of tanks to seek fame or death.
The second playthrough of the game was much MUCH more action based. First it was just me and my friend going around helping where we could; dropping troops into hot zones, providing cover from above, or picking up stranded teammates. From there we operated with a full squad and began pushing and defending with our teammates. Defending for me was one of the best thrills I had, with the games day and night cycle emphasizing the wait for reinforcements. Driving into enemy territories and capturing points was at times nerve wracking as well. Whenever enemy aircraft’s were approaching, we would attempt to hide our vehicle in a ditch and turn off the headlights, hoping they didn’t spot us.
When our squad finally joined a platoon the fun was multiplied. Teamwork was key, knowing when to move in, wait for reinforcements, or in desperate times, retreating. What the game is seriously lacking is voice chat, luckily I was invited into a Ventrilo server, where the orders were being issued. I cant imagine playing this game without voice chat, it seriously adds another layer of fun, then again when doesn’t it?
Overall I find Planetside 2 to be a fun exciting game and I see the huge potential that it has. Is it on par with Battlefield? Maybe not, but for a college student or someone with little income, its a great substitute and well worth the time.
Sony Online Entertainment, you never disappoint me. When I need to get angry and feel like there’s so much wasted potential, you are always there to deliver. I don’t see what all the hoopla is about with this sequel to 2003’s also disappointing title, but it has to be there right? If so many like this game I must be missing something! Right off the bat I was already a little agitated with Planetside 2, as my Beta experience with the game was lackluster and the sequence of events regarding logging into the game was a nightmare for me. I have a SOE account, I have used it for their other games such as Everquest 2 and DC Universe Online, and yet without fail Sony Online Entertainments website and games constantly tell me I do not have an account! Signing into a Sony game at this point feels like being abducted by the same group of Aliens who only wish to anal probe me and than drop me off at home; no other investigating or motive, they just like to watch me squirm and get pissed off. So after attempting to log in time and again and continually seeing messages of “The account you are trying to log in with doesn’t exist” or “The password used is incorrect” the game finally allows me to log on; when I did nothing differently! The head bashing had begun.
So finally getting past Sony’s incompetent security I can finally try Planetside 2 again! Maybe my view of the Beta was incorrect somehow…oh…right…these guys. After signing on you are prompted to select an allegiance with one of Planetside 2’s three factions: the Terran Republic, New Conglomerates, or the Vanu Sovereignty. Each race looks about as generic and ugly as one can imagine. While Randy likes the look of this games chosen art style, I think its dreadful. All of the art featured in this title reminds me of an extremely low budget syfy channel original movie, and not in a way that can be endearing. So how did I solve this conundrum of faction choosing? Well the New Conglomerates have a snazzy rock tune that accompanies the cursor highlighting them, far more interesting then the generic background music that plays for the other choices; so sure, why not?
Character creation is simple and features little options as well, so now its off to the war front! Dropping into the world I make my way to the nearest battle taking place and crouch behind some large rocks with various soldiers of my chosen allegiance. I begin familiarizing myself with the controls as I watch my team step out of cover and take pot shots at targets that I can’t even see. Feeling comfortable with the controls of my soldier I look out from behind the rock and see…nothing. “Who are these guys shooting at?” I ask myself, then I see them. Enemies sitting behind their own cover quite the distance away. This is a trench warfare without the trench’s, and no one is willing to cross no mans land. After chilling with my anonymous buddies wishing we could get a far more exciting game of Poker going a tank shows up to the front lines! “YES!” I think, now things will pick up, oh wait, whats he doing?! The tank proceeded to sit behind us as our team continued to do nothing but wave to the opposition.
After that disappointment I opened my map hoping to find Randy amongst all of this mess. To Planetside’s credit, the battlefields they have created are huge venues and there are multiple continents that see battle, all possible to reach and switch to from a base of operations. The map system can be fairly confusing at first, but eventually my squad finds me. (Should make that easier Sony) Our three man team decides to run away from the “take it easy” front lines and into some more entertaining fare (or so I hoped) While we patiently waited for our pilot to figure out how to land and pick us up properly I allowed myself some time to really see the world I was now inhabiting; I wish I hadn’t.
While Randy likes the graphic style of Planetside, I do not understand how he can like the actual graphics. These marines live in a world full of low res textures and stiff animations. No wonder they’re all at each others throats! From a distance things look alright, but up close you wonder how these artists can possibly be happy with their work. To make matters worse that godawful art style does not help in the slightest. This is a future that makes the clothing from The Hunger Games look downright beautiful. Eventually our pilot makes it low enough for us to hop in and get things rolling. To our dismay our aircraft could only hold three marines at once, leaving two other soldiers hoping to catch a ride stranded on the blurry metal below. But we were off! We were in the air and we were actually shooting at things attacking us! Lo and behold there is actual combat in this game! I go about taking down some enemy pilots but the action is still just a turret sequence from Call of Duty, but its something at least.
Then I hit the wrong key, I don’t remember which key it is to enter/exit vehicles, but I feel like its not the ideal one, as I then plummeted straight down to the earth below. The future also doesn’t have parachutes people. Ok, I do not know why soldiers in aircraft wouldn’t prepare themselves for possible ejection, but whatever, respawn down below. I then began making my way on foot towards a base Randy was attempting to capture. I’ll finally get to really put my gun to good use! Only…nobody was there to defend the base. We captured the enemies stronghold without any worry, then made our way to the next in a troop transport vehicle; and captured it again without resistance.
Finally on the third outpost several enemy troops were wise enough to spawn in and give us a fight. Our buddy was gunned down fairly quickly and next up was Randy to die a hero. I used a generic future box as cover and took out one of the soldiers. My first thought was that aiming seemed fairly odd, then it was that the shooting in general is extremely lackluster. Guns in Planetside 2 don’t really pack any kind of punch. There is no feedback to holding down the trigger of a rifle or shotgun, and no real sense of hitting an enemy as the bodies don’t have much in the way of impact spray; at least from what I saw. After clearing the room I discovered another enemy and died shortly after. We had finally found open combat.
The next hour would continue to play out as a generic boring shooter. Yes, there would be tanks involved and more jets and troops; but it would all feel…uninspired. My experience with Planetside 2 featured long droughts with little action, poor aiming, awful 80’s art style, poor feedback and shooting mechanics, and average visuals overall. And that sums up Planetside 2; average. My time with this game was average at best. The majority of our faction waited around the entire match at home base! As if they were players of another MMO waiting for their party to enter the dungeon. Planetside 2 may be a serviceable title, but if you want a war, get on Battlefield 3. If you want a F2P game, get on Tribes, SMNC, Mechwarrior, Hawken, Blacklight Retribution, just anything else! I have heard good things about this game, I just don’t know where they are. During any playthrough of Battlefield I live through those amazing “Battlefield Moments”, not once did I have a “Planetside Moment”, unless these boring experiences are the moments. I know I sure as hell had another “Sony Online Entertainment” moment. This is the last straw Sony! Everquest is meh, Planetside 1 was meh, and DC Universe is one of the most shallow MMO’s out there. You had a chance to redeem and you deliver this! You’re on notice!