Our own Jeffrey Philipp sits down to take EVE Online’s latest expansion pack, Dominion, for a test drive. Did he like what he saw? You’ll have to read on to find out!
Recently I have been given the opportunity to tackle the rather sizable task of reviewing one of the most expansive games on the market today.
Make no mistake, EVE Online takes the massive from MMORPG and runs with it like Forrest Gump.
I would like to make it clear that I certainly did my best to experience as much of the game as possible, but there was a great deal that was simply not possible with my relatively limited time with the game.
I suppose a reasonable place to start would be the technical aspects of the game, and the most noticeable part of that is the visuals. EVE Online, being set in space which doesn’t require an extensive amount of environment detail, instead places that detail in the ship and station visuals.
The graphics are impressive to say the least, the four races each have a visually distinct style for their ships from the practical and industrial looking Caldari, to a much more sci-fi theme with the Amarr.
While the ships and stations do look quite breathtaking flying past bright stars and nebulae one aspect of the visuals that I personally would have liked to see a little more detail was in combat. There is very little visual indication of your ship’s “health” while fighting.
Hardly a game-breaking problem to be sure, but something that I imagine would improve the character of the game, even something as simple as some shield flash on impact would draw me into the space combat a great deal.
The other half of the presentation equation, the sound, is in my humble opinion, the weakest part of the game. Now we all know that in space no one can hear you scream, but a little bit of audio can be a very powerful aspect of a games presentation, and EVE is a very quiet game compared to many.
All of the sound design that is there is very well done, missile impacts are visceral and the firing of beams and cannons are pleasantly destructive sounding, but I would have liked to hear more.
As far as the music goes, EVE comes with a jukebox with a rather expansive list of tracks you can listen to, but they play without regard to the situation you happen to be in, and there are situations where you find yourself in a rather intense fleet battle with a slow, soft piece playing in the background that can lead to a slight sense of dissonance.
While I did mention the sound being the weakest aspect, I would like to reiterate that it is in no ways bad, rather that when this is the largest gripe I have with the game, it must be doing something right.
While a game with splendid presentation can be impressive, it’s rarely fun without some content to back it up.
ANow I am normally a proponent of well written, highly story driven content, but in this case I will happily eat my words and say that EVE Online, especially with the new changes made in Dominion, delivers some of the highest quality player driven gaming of this or any other decade.
It does this by masterfully combining two related, but subtly distinct systems. In fact one might say that EVE Online provides two games for the price of one.
The first of the two meta games, and I would imagine by far the more niche, is the economy.
Now, many games have “economies”, but every other one that I’ve seen to date has paled in comparison to the amount of work that has gone into the market system in EVE Online.
Price histories, market reports, an incredible number of tools are all built into the market screen you can access at any time. As far as I can figure this is one of the most unique aspects of EVE, in that everything that can be purchased and is routinely used by the large player run corporations and alliances is created by players.
As I said above, this certainly does sound, at least to me, like the far more niche part of the game, but the depth possible makes it very fun if you happen to have an interest in it.
The other major thing to do, and the one that has received some rather major changes with the Dominion update, is Sovereignty.
I have to speculate here, as I’m not sure there’s really a definitive answer to this question, but I would imagine that this is the reason that EVE Online is the only particularly successful PvP focused MMO to date. This, to me, is the heart of the PvP game.
Essentially, this is a complex system of territorial control that player alliances and corporations partake in, conquering and holding their various galactic empires, and reaping the benefits of natural resources in those systems. The most recent changes were made with the goal of addressing some of the less entertaining parts of the territorial control game previously.
To my mind it certainly is very entertaining, even though to say that I participated is something of an overstatement. Rather you might say that I arrived and was promptly relegated to observer status. Watching though was an incredibly rewarding experience, with massive fleets of ships firing on another, and debris floating everywhere.
Having said all that, EVE Online is a difficult game to write a generic review for, because it’s non-standard in so many ways.
From the real-time skill training to the unique setting, it certainly will not be for everyone. In my opinion developer CCP understands that they are providing a niche title and are cultivating that outlook. One thing that can be said for any player is that this game is one that will require a rather sizable investment of time to get the most from the experience.
In an attempt to make a definitive review statement, I will say that technically the game is as close to flawless as I’ve seen, and it does what it attempts to do better than nearly every other title I’ve had the opportunity to play.
If you are looking for an epic experience in a sprawling galaxy; being a dashing space pirate, a mover-and-,shaker in the world of finance and industry, or an emperor of a vast galactic empire, EVE Online is currently the absolute best option.
Score: A solid 5 of 5.
Disclosure: A review copy and press account were provided by LEWIS PR on behalf of CCP Games.