Posted on December 18, 2012, James Murff Planetside 2 Review: The Most War-Torn Planet On Earth
The world of MMOs is an often anger-inducing one, and Planetside 2 is no exception. From getting shot down by turrets whose tracers you can’t see to a complete lack of coordination on your team as you attempt to take a heavily-defended region, you are bound to be endlessly frustrated with relatively minor issues. The root of this frustration, however, is that Planetside 2 has potential. It’s not a fantastic game, but it’s a good one. It’s certainly one of the best free-to-play games on the market. It just needs a little more love and care and a few more months of polish to truly shine. If you are willing to overlook the nagging and persistent flaws, you can really lose yourself in the world of Auraxis.
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Released: November 20th, 2012
Planetside 2 chronicles the three-way war between the major factions of Auraxis: the Terran Republic, the New Conglomerate, and the Vanu Sovereignty. If you are familiar at all with science fiction video games, you should recognize the three-way faction tropes immediately. The TR is a group of order-obsessed fascists, the NC wants freedom — even if that freedom is to live in squalor — and the VS wants to ascend to a higher form of existence using found alien technology. While there is no real story arc as of yet, the developers at Sony have hired esteemed writer Marvin Wolfman (best known for creating vampire hunter Blade) to flesh out the world and provide them with a continual roadmap of lore to give meaning to the endless violence.
What violence it is! Planetside 2, as a first-person shooter, does all the things that you might expect out of a game about murdering people. You take aim, you click, and your gun causes formerly healthy enemies to drop dead. Unfortunately, while the basic gun physics and infantry controls are perfectly fine, there are many minor issues that ruin the precision of shooting your weapon. The exaggerated sway of your gun while turning and moving — as well as the bob when you jump or fall — makes your gun feel like it is on the end of a string rather than held in finely-disciplined and muscular hands. Attachments, while always a lovely addition to any shooter, do not offer many options. Any scope besides the night-vision and reflex scopes cause more issues than they solve, as most combat is done at medium to close range where scopes are mostly useless. Flashlights are of no use at all, since you can see everything just fine even at night. The attachments themselves are often ugly and don’t feel quite right when attached to the weapon.
For those that don’t want to engage in infantry combat, there is also the wild world of vehicles to take part in. Planetside 2 has both air and ground vehicles to choose from, and much like a real battle you can’t achieve victory without maintaining dominance over each sphere. To SOE’s credit, each vehicle handles and fires very well and there are no complaints about the vehicles physics or controls. Much like infantry, however, everything is plagued by minor flaws and annoyances. Of all the vehicles in the game, only three — the main battle tanks for each faction (Vanguard, Prowler, and Magrider) — have default load-outs that compete with any other equipment you could attach. All other vehicles require either certifications or real-world money in order to be truly effective. A Liberator (VTOL warship) without a 105mm or 150mm underbelly cannon is way too ineffectual to be of any use as close-air support, and the default Lightning (light tank) turret is probably the single worst piece of equipment in the game. Galaxies (aerial troop transport), Sunderers (ground troop transport), and Flashes (rapid four-wheeler-style transports) do their jobs adequately, but certifications offer straight upgrades to each that completely negate default or alternative load-outs. For example, the Sunderer can be given the ability to allow players to spawn at it when it is deployed, and a Sunderer without it is just shy of useless.