Earthrise Review — Impressions: Part 1
The moment you boot up Earthrise, you are introduced to this game‘s stellar art direction and stunning visuals with a cut scene that lays out exactly what this game is about. A mercenary in sci-fi armor (obligatory LEDs included) zips along a dusty highway on a hovercycle as the sun hangs low in the sky, silhouetting the teetering smokestacks of a post-apocalyptic cityscape. He stops at a crafting station and, glancing over his shoulder every few moments, manufactures a shotgun–only to be shot in the back by a sniper who steals his shiny new toy.
Earthrise is a sci-fi MMORPG with a strong focus on crafting and player-versus-player combat. In a sea of fantasy-themed MMOs, Earthrise fills a niche that has produced more failures than successes–the memory of Tabula Rasa still fresh in the minds of jaded gamers.
Earthrise (PC [Reviewed])
Developer: Masthead Studios
Publisher: Masthead Studios
Release Date: February 04, 2011
But Earthrise does its best to deliver a good first impression, immersing players in its sci-fi universe with sleek, high-tech equipment, seamlessly blended techno/metal soundtracks, and varied futuristic landscapes. The only hiccup in the visuals department comes in the form of awkward jump animations and missing animation transitions.
Character creation is a breeze. Earthrise uses a classless leveling mechanic, and your choice of race has no effect on your character’s abilities, so initial options are entirely aesthetic. There’s no need to fuss over picking an ideal race and class combination–Earthrise lets you create the character you want by allowing any character to acquire any skill.
After creating your character, you’re taken through a pre-combat tutorial, including an obstacle course that can be defeated through the difficult task of holding the forward and jump keys. This begs the question: why was it included? If the developers really wanted an obstacle course, they should have incorporated some modicum of difficulty–as it stands, it amounts to little more than scenery.
The obstacle course leads into combat training, which introduces you to the various weapons in your arsenal through “kill 5 of creature X”-type missions. Useful for new players, this training becomes tedious for those making a second character because it cannot be skipped.
With the tutorial completed, you are whisked away to the heart of Exodus Island, aka Newbie Island, where you are introduced to the game’s plot: the Continoma government raised mankind from the ashes of the Third World War and holds tight rule over its utopia–and the cloning process that determines who lives and who dies. A rebel group, the Noir, is at war with Continoma, accusing the government of crimes against humanity.
Although “rebels versus the government” plots have become cliché in sci-fi since Star Wars, this is no battle of good versus evil–players who choose to align themselves with either faction are taking a stance on a morally grey issue. Unfortunately, due to Earthrise’s sandbox nature, this “plot” sees no development beyond Exodus Island.
Read on to Part 2, where we dive into gameplay.