Planetside 2: There’s too many of them… No, really - Games Weekly

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Planetside 2: There’s too many of them… No, really

They say a camel is a horse designed by committee. The inference there being that when you get a whole bunch of folk together, attempting to focus them on any one element of a task will likely lead to sub-par end results. That’s a load of old guff if PlanetSide 2 is to be believed, as during our hands-on we found ourselves teaming up with hundreds of players at a time to optimally achieve our base-capturing objectives.

But, just like the humble camel may be handy in a desert and yet equally liable to spit in your face, PlanetSide 2, at this admittedly early stage of PS4 development, has a few less endearing qualities.

The most immediately obvious is that this is not the shooter you’ll present when attempting to show off your PS4’s graphical capabilities. With all those many hundreds of players milling about across the vast maps of Auraxis, the visuals take a hit. Character models are basic, lacking the instantly recognisable qualities which might enable you to distinguish one class from another with ease. Also, the environments themselves could pass for an above average looking PS3 era shooter.

Mind Games
But once your retinas have settled the bill with their therapist, there’s plenty about the design of these sci-fi landscapes to appreciate. As we join forces with our fellow closed Beta soldiers, we capture sprawling metallic fortresses, with multiple turreted vantage points and tanks, quad bikes and APCs all over the shop. It’s the scope of the place that impresses more than anything else.

Huge people-carrying Galaxy airships come laden with vast vats of responsibility for select players. If you do end up in the pilot’s seat of one of these things, you’ll hold the lives of up to 11 other soldiers in your hands enough to affect the outcome of a smaller territory skirmish, which could be the tipping point for the whole thousands-strong battle as you transport said troops to their destination…
“After Destiny’s solid launch, it’s important lag be kept on a leash.”
There are smaller fights, too. It’s possible, and feels incredible, to become a lone warrior, holding out amid the chaos via tactical wizardry and mind games. More than once we find ourselves woefully outnumbered (our own fault for not analysing the flow of the battlefield from the map system’s densely-packed info) and hiding among rocky outcroppings as a group of infantryman, all player-controlled, marches on by. There’s something incredibly satisfying about sending a headshot into such a rabble, watching as they weave and bob in panic.

But this is most definitely a game to be played with friends. It can be an awfully lonesome experience when you aren’t a part of a squad. Figuring out the puzzle of where to go next, as well as where to lend your collective strength in your alliance’s cause, is always more interesting when you’ve got buds on either side.

Red Lag
There are a couple of elements of PlanetSide 2’s shooting that have us less than 100% convinced. It’s  so important, especially after the rock solid launch of Destiny, that lag be kept on a leash. The aim is 30fps here, but, especially during the more populated clashes, irritatingly jerky movement creeps in. This criticism comes with the hope that such pre-launch Betas show a willingness to get this sorted in time for launch.

Another concern that we’re wary of, but unable to make a call on, is the payment system. PlanetSide 2 will be the most prominent free-to-play game on PS4, but it’s got plenty of weapons and benefits set aside for those who fork over money for advantages, and this system could fracture the community. Nailing the balance between paying and playing is going to be critical, because when it comes to firing bullets at digital people there’s nothing in PlayStation history not even MAG that’s done what Planetside 2 is aiming to offer.

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