When I’m not studying for my last final of the semester (done tonight – yay!) I’m shootin’ fools in the F4S3 on Planetside 2.
Okay, actually other players are shooting me in the face…I die a lot. But I’m still having fun.
For the uninitiated, Planetside 2 is a “free” massively multiplayer team-based shooter that only stops for server maintenance.
The game’s scale is truly epic. Dozens upon dozens of players in a battle…on each side! Armored columns rolling across the countryside, capping bases; aircraft flying overhead providing air support.
The game makes it easy to deploy to a battle quickly…just click on the big green ‘Deploy’ button on the map and BOOM, you’re dropped into the battle from orbit (it’s actually pretty cool dropping in). And when you die, you have about a 10 second timer and then you can jump right back into the action. No time wasted waiting for a match to start, no worries about a match falling apart when players drop because their side is loosing. And when one battle is over, you can quickly move on to the next.
There are six classes (medic, engineer, heavy, light assault, infiltration and MAX/power armor), which you may switch between fairly easily. Each class has a set of weapons and abilities that may be improved using certification points, earned by shootin’ fools in the face (you can also get points by capping or defending bases, healing team mates and repairing stuff). You can also buy Station Cash with which to improve your weapons and abilities (if you’re too impatient to earn the certs through play).
Though it’s an MMO, there are none of the typical MMO mini-games. No crafting, no resource gathering, no fishing, no auction house. The game is all about big battles and blowing crap up, 24/7.
However, all is not well in face-shooting land. For one, the game controls feel slightly sluggish to me compared to other FPS games I’ve played recently (such as Borderlands 2). But this may be because my system is running the minimum specs for the game.
Which leads me to the biggest problem: the minimum system specs is 4 Gigs of RAM; they recommend 8 Gigs, plus high end CPU and GPU. I haven’t had any problems running other current games on my system, but on P2 I was crashing every 30 minutes until I twiddled with things a bit to enable Windows 7 to use up to 3 Gigs of RAM with applications (instead of the default 2G – solution documented here). This problem almost killed the game for me. They say they’re working on it, but this is SOE we’re talking about, so who knows if they’ll ever get more reasonable system specs.
And while the game is free to play, it’ll take forever to earn the certification points you need to buy new guns for your favorite class. It probably doesn’t help that I suck and die a lot, and have limited playing time, but even so I think it’d take at least a week of solid play to upgrade just one infantry weapon for one class. This is by design, no doubt, to encourage players to sign up for the premium membership ($15/mo.) or to buy Station Cash to get weapons and upgrades. The starting weapons are adequate to play the game, but it may start to feel like ‘pay to win’ when you get killed by players with fancier guns than yours.
I should also mention that while there are video tutorials available online, there is no in-game tutorial. When you first make a character you get a short blurb about your faction, then it drops you straight into the action. In all likelihood you will be dead within seconds, even if you’re an experienced FPS gamer. It’s very much a learn-as-you-go game. A brief tutorial before being dropped into the thick of things would be nice.
If you like team-based FPS games, and have a system that can handle it, you should check out Planetside 2. It’s free to play, so it’ll only cost you the time it takes to download it.