Planetside 2 is one of the most hotly anticipated FPS titles of the year. At E3 2012, we gave it awards for “Best Shooter” and “Best MMO”, beating out titles like Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2, Defiance, Rift, and others. We played it at E3, I played it all throughout beta, and now I’m playing it and reviewing it post-launch to let all of you know what I think of it.
So how does this one stack up?
One of the things many detractors have brought up is the game’s dissimilarity to its predecessor, Planetside. People have complained that this isn’t a proper “sequel” because so much has changed. Sony Online Entertainment has stated all along, though, that this isn’t a sequel, it’s a re imagining – a rebuilt vision, if you will – of the Planetside concept. Done up all modern and shiny with new features and ideas which weren’t so possible to pull off all those years ago.
During my time with Planetside 2, I’ve run with a lot of people and done a lot of things. In preparation for this review, I settled in with an outfit called “The Sons of Odin“, who pride themselves on their tactics and strategic style of play, and recorded a ton of video which I edited down and threw together for all of you out there so you could have a look at it and see how the new game plays. Check it out and then have a read through the review.
Those who make the comparison to the original Planetside do so unfairly, in my estimation. Again, SOE never claimed that this was going to be a proper sequel and has made it clear that this isn’t your grandpappy’s Planetside. This is a whole new game with new ideas, new archetypes, new maps, new weapons and new players. Those who wanted Planetside 1, part 2, are sorely disappointed. I, however, am a veteran of Planetside 1, having started playing it shortly after release. as a veteran, I am very happy that the game has been done in the way that it has. I didn’t want to play a prettier version of Planetside 1; I wanted new and that’s what I got.
Free to play?
One of the new and exciting things about SOE’s business model is their new free-to-play concept, which makes all of their games free of subscription fees. This is great because it certainly allows people to get in and experience the games at no cost. Planetside 2 is no different, there. The game is 100% free to download and install and you get 100% of the content without ever having to pay a dime.
Let me be clear about this. You get 100% of the content without ever having to pay a single, thin dime. There is nothing – absolutely NOTHING – in the game that you have to pay for to unlock. You get 100% of the game, 100% free.
If you choose, you may purchase a subscription. The subscription option is plain and simple. If you choose to pay SOE for their hard work, they reward you by giving you a boost to the speed at which you gain resources and XP, by giving you priority status in any login or continent switching queue which may exist and they give you a couple of other perks like 500 station cash per month and early access to in-game vanity items.
You needn’t buy the subscription if you don’t want to. You still have access to all the same content which is available to subscribers. The people with the subs just get some stuff a little faster. That’s 100% fair, without question.
Pay to win?
Of course, the game also has a microtransaction system built in through which players can spend their hard-earned cash on in-game items like rocket launchers, rifles, vehicle weapons, etc…This has led a small but vocal portion of the players to cry foul and scream “Pay to win!!”. The problem with this theory is that none of the items which are available for purchase with cash are cash-exclusive items. Every single one of them can also be unlocked in the game, for free (that’s 100% free, in case you didn’t catch that in the last few paragraphs) by using certification points.
Let me be clear, again: There is not a single useable item in the game which can be purchased with station cash that isn’t available, for free, via certification points. This means that a player who never gives SOE a single penny can still get all of the weapon unlocks, for free, by spending the certification points which they earn by playing the game. “Play-to-win” cancels out “Pay to win”.
[Editor's note: Since there has been some question on this; I specify usable items, i.e. weapons. All of the vanity items are cash only but are, in effect, non functional since they are only vanity items. Buying a new helmet or composite armor gives you no tangible benefit, it just changes your model. Also, none of the weapon upgrade items or skill certs are available for cash purchase and can only be acquired via cert points, i.e. optics, supressors, faster repairs, etc...]
The graphics in Planetside 2 are nothing short of breathtaking. SOE used its own engine, “Forgelight”, to create the game world and I have to say that the people who designed it did a hell of a job. The textures, the lighting, the fog that diffuses light as it shines through trees, the explosions…oh those beautiful, beautiful explosions. There’s not a single thing in the game, that I can think of, which isn’t straight up sexy. Hell, even those dirty, stinking, foul Terran Republic pukes look good..especially through the muzzle flash of my Gauss Compact S or the blast of its underslung grenade launcher, as the flesh is stripped from their miserable fascist bones.
DIE TR SCUM!!!
Ok, wow…back on topic. The graphics look good. There’s tons of detail, brilliant lighting, great textures and it all comes together to make a gorgeous game. The only down side is that you still need a fairly beefy rig to run the game at the higher graphics settings. It still looks good at the lower settings, just not nearly AS good.
Here’s another area where SOE got it right. The sounds in the game are amazing. Every explosion, every shot fired, every enemy spotted and every call for a medic sound great. There’s nothing quite like being in the middle of a huge battle with tanks firing, aircraft buzzing overhead, tracers whipping past your head and bullets ripping into the tree next to you. The grenades, gunship rounds and tank shells exploding, throwing off shockwaves and brilliant plumes of fire…and those sounds.
I think I just dribbled a little.
The sounds are proximity based, as well, so it is immediately obvious if a burst of gunfire or an explosion is nearby or far off. No, I don’t mean the volume is lower, I mean the sound is different. No matter how you have your volume adjusted, you can instantly recognize proximity based on the sound.
Great job, there!
On top of that, Planetside 2 has a fully functional in-game voice system which allows players to participate in voice-comms with other players in their faction. Proximity chat, squad chat, platoon chat and outfit chat make it wasy to communicate and strategize. Good thinking!
The controls are the standard WASD + mouse controls which any PC based FPS player will instantly recognize and know. There’s really nothing to see here, it just had to be said so I didn’t get hate-comments yelling at me because I didn’t talk about the controls. Of course all of the functions can be remapped to suit any individual player’s needs. Universal stuff.
Also, beware the “g” key when standing in a group of friendly players…Because grenade.