PlanetSide

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One of the first titles in the MMOFPS genre, PlanetSide is an FPS that comes packed with a ton of RPG features. PlanetSide offers three factions and a plethora of weapon systems for players to choose from as they attack and defend bases, towers, and warp gates all over the playable world. Soldiers in PlanetSide take advantage of futuristic weapons, armor, ground vehicles, and aircraft as they fight for planetary control in this futuristic shooter.

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Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Playerbase: Medium
Graphics: Medium Quality
Type: MMO
EXP Rate: Medium
PvP: Open World Faction Battles
Filesize: 3250 MB

Pros: +Good “Instant Action” system. +Unique persistent world MMOFPS gameplay. +Fun and helpful training areas.

Cons: -Mouse controls can be frustrating.  -Gameplay can get repetitive. -No PvE elements. -No clear direction other than fighting the opposing factions.

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Overview

PlanetSide Overview

Territory control is the heart and soul of PlanetSide. The three factions fight over towers, bases, and various outposts across the playable world. Players are never short on PvP action and most successful takeovers will often be lost to another faction fairly quickly. When a player is not fighting on the front lines, each faction’s “Sanctuary” offers a safe area to idle or partake in weapons and vehicle training. Combat rewards experience which allows characters to purchase certifications, and gain access to new weapons and vehicles.

PlanetSide takes place on Auraxis, a planet found and colonized through the exploration of a wormhole in space. The colonists broke apart into separate groups that eventually developed into factions and now battle for control of the planet. The three playable factions are: Vanu Sovereignty, New Conglomerate, and the Terran Republic.

Vanu Sovereignty: The ‘Vanu’ are a long lost alien race that once populated the planet Auraxis, leaving behind artifacts and alien technology. The Vanu Sovereignty are a group of academics and technology loving individuals who believe the future lies in pursuing the secrets used by the aliens(Vanu) and their weapons. This faction is known for the use of alien technology and energy based weaponry.

New Conglomerate: Those who rebelled against the dominant republic (Terrans) formed their own movement and began to fight for democracy. The New Conglomerate are soldiers that fight against the republic and hope to bring about reform and freedom for the inhabitants of Auraxis. The Conglomerate is known to bring big guns and armor to the battle at the cost of maneuverability.

Terran Republic: The Terran Republic is the authoritarian force on Auraxis. Known for its control over humanity for ages, the Republic seeks to extend its ‘Big Brother’ influence to the recently discovered planet. Terran military practice dictates high rates of fire and generous amounts of ammunition.

Despite a few different weapons and the color of your character’s armor, the three factions are nearly identical. This isn’t much of a drawback since it promotes balance, which is necessary for a game where there is constantly a battle going on

PlanetSide Screenshots

PlanetSide Featured Video

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Full Review

PlanetSide Review

By, Kenneth Bodzak

PlanetSide is well made, action-packed MMOFPS. The title is a shooter at heart, but features a convenient third person camera mode as well a multitude of RPG aspects. Unlike traditional MMOFPS games like Wolfteam, Alliance of Valiant Arms and Soldier Front, PlanetSide is a persistent world MMO Shooter, and the first of its kind. Players gain combat ranks through battle and training, and as they improve their character they can gain access to new weapons and vehicles. With a playerbase just large enough to allow its free flowing open world PvP design to be effective, PlanetSide is a great game for the player looking to log in and get some action.

Sony Online Entertainment, the publishers of PlanetSide, have made quite a few server-mergers for the title, and with good reason. Getting as many players as possible on one server allows the playable world to be well populated and keep the battles going. Unfortunately the late night gamer may experience a much different atmosphere than those playing during prime time.
PlanetSide has mediocre visuals, enjoyable sound effects, and a very stable combat system. Cheating does not appear to pose a problem, nor are there any exploits that run rampant and ruin the gameplay. The title also boasts a large selection of graphical options and will run very smoothly on any relatively up to date computer system.

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Training Done Right
Training missions, tutorials, and help menus are a common occurrence in MMORPGs, and PlanetSide really shines here. The moment a character is created and loaded into the world the player is greeted with a training mission and a bunch of quick help tool tips. Players can choose to follow this series of tutorials or skip it all together. If these short and simple tips are read and followed, the game is unbelievably easy to understand, and the player will be ready to play in a few minutes.

Further adding to the help is the option for virtual reality training. The player can enter a facility where the game emulates a battle field and allows the player to use and test out all the weapons and vehicles. These facilities let PlanetSide have a very fun ‘downtime’ because players can have access to weapons they are not yet certified to use in real combat.

Speaking of weapons, PlanetSide features a large arsenal of weapons, armor, vehicles (ground and air), as well as various support Items. A wonderful selection of weapon and support systems is one of the key features that allows PlanetSide to keep players interested and entertained. The equipment a player chooses to use is what dictates the ‘flavor’ of the gameplay. A player looking for a stealthy covert ops feel can chose to use a cloaking suit and low profile weapons, while somebody a bit more interested in firepower can pick up a rocket launcher.

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Instant Action
An often overlooked part of MMOs is the time it takes to actually play the game, or at least get to the substantial part of it. Some titles have treacherously long starting zones, desolate towns that lack things to do, and restrictions placed on new characters. PlanetSide has an exceptional feature called ‘Instant Action’. A player brings up the game menu, clicks their Instant Action button, and after a few seconds they are warped off to a current hot-spot where they can dive right into the battle. This feature is what brings this whole game together. Once you get placed in the heat of battle, you are in full control and can pursue whatever intentions you originally may have had.

The in-game map is very descriptive and will help guide you to a large base, or perhaps a small tower you may want to take over with a few friends. Battles in PlanetSide can range from a huge offensive (complete with aircraft, tanks, saboteurs, and snipers) to a quick one-on-one skirmish with another player.  The game makes it very simple to find action in the huge playable world, but it is also just as easy to find a nice safe place to start at and slowly work your way to the battlefront.

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Finding the battle is one thing, and fighting the battle is a whole different story. PlanetSide offers easy controls, and anybody familiar with FPS games can get the hang of it quickly. Unfortunately mouse input can get  a bit twitchy, and downright irritating when zoomed in. Some armor setups actually modify your tracking (ability to follow an object or enemy outside the current field of view) to an unbelievably frustrating level. This does bring an interesting aspect to the gameplay, but perhaps it is a bit overdone.

Vehicles are another controversial part of the game. Obviously they bring extreme mobility and firepower to the playing field, but vehicle control is something known to be hectic in many games. Most vehicles in PlanetSide are easy to get used to and fairly simple to pilot. Unfortunately the tracking issues discussed earlier are present in many of the ‘gunner’ positions of vehicles, and trying to get a solid shot off (let alone keep a target on your screen) can be quite an ordeal at times.

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Three Not-So-Different Factions
PlanetSide is an MMO about three factions fighting each other for control over a planet. Interestingly enough, the three factions are practically identical and there does not seem to be anything worth fighting over. The title has a fairly interesting back story involving an age-old dominating republic, a rebel movement against said republic, and the discovery of a new planet along with ancient alien technology. Surprisingly, despite having all those things to work with, PlanetSide fails to deliver a truly interesting and vibrant world to its players.

Each faction has a very limited amount of weapons that are unique to it, small enough to make the difference quite negligible. While the homogeny promotes balance, it also causes PlanetSide to seem bland. The most notable difference between each faction is the color of their armor. Furthermore, character customization is weak and involves choosing a name, and a face… a face that probably will never be noticed by any other player in the game.

It is also worth noting that all the structures in PlanetSide (bases, guard towers, faction sanctuaries) are copies of each other and constantly reused. The planet has a bunch of continents, but the only thing that changes is usually the color of the sky and ground. Despite the discovery of ancient technology, no caves, ruins, or landmarks exist. PlanetSide appears to be missing the finishing touches that are necessary to add enjoyable depth to a game.

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Long Trip, No destination
People describe war in a lot of different ways, but boring is not often one of them. The three factions at war in PlanetSide seem to only fight for the sake of fighting. Perhaps they can’t be blamed, because there is apparently nothing else to do on the planet but fight over bases; Bases that were designed to be fought over. The game really lacks a purpose, and has no clear goal. Players can improve their character through combat and become certified to use more powerful weapons and equipment, but this really doesn’t cut it as a reward for their efforts.

Players fight over bases for anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours. The worst part is that after the dust settles the winner will probably end up losing the property relatively soon. There are no ‘victory conditions’, your faction cannot win the game, nor can you. While this is practically standard in MMOs, its particularly striking in PlanetSide. Despite your best efforts and the power of your character, the game is going to constantly repeat its cycle of king of the hill.

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Final Verdict: Good
PlanetSide’s easy to learn controls and even easier access to action-packed battles makes it an enjoyable MMOFPS. Decent visuals, different weapons, vehicles, and cute little features keep players interested just long enough to realize how moot their efforts have been. The game has little depth, flavorless landscapes, and very little goals to work toward. Nevertheless, PlanetSide runs smooth and wastes no time getting a player into combat and tearing up the battlefield. PlanetSide can deliver an exciting MMOFPS experience, but in the long term many players may find it bland and disappointing.

Videos

PlanetSide Videos

PlanetSide Gameplay Video

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PlanetSide Gameplay Trailer

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PlanetSide Feature Video

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System Requirements

PlanetSide Requirements

Minimum Requirements:
OS: Windows 98  / 2000 / XP / Vista
CPU: Pentium 3 1.0 GHz or AMD Equivalent
RAM: 256 MB
HDD: 3.5 GB Free
Graphics Card: Any Direct3D complaint video card with 32MB ram

Recommended Specifications:
OS: Windows 98  / 2000 / XP / Vista
CPU: Pentium 3 1.6 Ghz / AMD Equivalent
RAM:512 MB or more
HDD: 4 GB Free or more
Graphics Card: Any Direct3D complaint video card with 64MB ram

PlanetSide Articles

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