EVE Online: The Second Genesis

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Imagine a future where space travel is not only possible, but required. Space is divided into factions; corporations are at a tense stand-off with each other, all just waiting for the other to give them an excuse to fire. Mining asteroids is a humongous industry, gaining new miners every day. Pirates run in swarms across the void, attacking lone miners and the occasional shipping frigate. This is the universe of EVE, and newcomers will experience all of these things within their first couple days of travel.

EVE is an RPG with its priorities mixed up. EVE has quite possibly the best graphics you can buy, and sound that doesn't disappoint. However, one could argue that EVE isn't technically an RPG. One of the general rules of an RPG is that your actions have an effect on your character's abilities. Be it experience to level, practice to raise skill, or prayer to increase magical ability, your character gains something for the time you put into it. In EVE, there is no correlation between your actions in game and your character's abilities.

The skill system is the primary culprit here. While it is nice that players who cannot play dozens of hours a week aren't punished for their absence, the players who are willing to dedicate that kind of time have little fun doing so and not much to show for it. Skills in EVE rise based on time. Not even time playing, but simply time. A low-level skill could take a few hours to gain, while high-end stuff can take up to a week. During this time any actions can be taken, including not bothering to play at all. When the skill increases, the player simply chooses the next skill he or she wishes to raise and goes on with whatever they were doing.

The element missing here is a reward for your actions. In most games players craft hundreds of the same item to raise their craft, kill an army of a single type of monster, and scrounge for ingredients for hours or even days. While this can be tedious, it is done because afterward they are rewarded for their effort with skill, items, or experience. In EVE use of a skill has no effect on your ability in that skill.

Money is a very big part of EVE, being the only thing besides time separating players from one another. The easiest - practically only - way to gain money early in your career as a pilot is asteroid mining. Quite possibly the most boring experience possible online, mining consists of flying near an asteroid and pushing a button to begin mining. That's all there is to do. Now players sit and chat for hours on end, waiting for their cargo to fill so they can return to a station and sell off the ore, then return to start over again.

Character Creation is by far my favorite part of EVE. Players can design in detail each section of their character's face. Cheekbones, brow structure, nose, mouth, and eyes are all so detailed I wonder how the developers made such a beautiful thing just to be a small inanimate square in the corner of the screen. Other players don't even see that much; other players see a postage stamp-esque picture of your face.

Overall, EVE offers some good open-ended play, if you play long enough to get anywhere. The graphics are beyond outstanding, the sound leaves nothing lacking, and the community is there to help. Sci-Fi fans and fans of deep adventure games alike could find a meaningful, time consuming experience here, but action junkies should avoid this game like the plague.

The Score:

+ Graphics simply astonishing
+ Cool soundtrack
+ Interesting player-based economy
+ Skill system doesn't prejudice against casual players
- Little or no reward for most gameplay
- Space is boring to travel
- High-end computer needed to run well

Bottom Line:

EVE is one of those things that you will either absolutely love or abhor nearly as much as Brussels sprouts. It's the Natural Born Killers of games. There are few, if any, casual players of EVE because they either fall in love with the open-ended space-based adventure or they will lose interest for lack of action and slow gameplay. Fans of Sci-Fi games and broad, open-ended gameplay simply must give this beautiful piece of art a try. This game is one to try before you buy, but anyone who plays the full seven days will be hooked for seven months.

Reviewed by Greg Atkinson

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