Preview: EverQuest Online Adventures

EQ, man!


Just like Yellowknife, only more populated.


It's cheaper to travel to tropical lands in a an online game than in real life. Slightly.

Party: wolf. Wolf: party.

Above the trees...

Yep, after this one it's retirement for me.

Night on the town.

Alas, poor Bokk. A man of infinite mirth...


The Adventure comes to the PS2
Platform: Playstation 2
Developer: Verant Interactive
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Rating Pending

It's the game that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends... what's true for all Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs is especially true for EverQuest. The hit PC game has had a multitude of expansion sets and is enjoyed by thousands of players. Now, the world of EverQuest is expanding to the PS2. EverQuest Online Adventures, however, is no port. It's a whole new game set in the world of Norrath, and may very well bring in as many inhabitants.

Well... "Whole new game" is somewhat arbitrary. Fans of the PC adventure will be on very familiar grounds here. All the things that made EverQuest so popular will be incorporated again. That means players get to create their own character, this time with a choice of nine races and thirteen classes. Once created, your character goes out into the world with countless others to do battle, explore, gain experience, or hang around and chat. Co-operative play is encouraged in this game, since that supposedly makes all the above activities more fun (especially the chatting).

There has been some concern that the console hardware might not be effective for this type of game, but the developers take the opposite opinion. The game will feature chat shortcuts, with standard phrases linked to Dual Shock buttons, and will be more focused on visual communication overall. That means that the body language of the characters along with similar cues will take away much of the need for written communication. Don't worry though, the game will be USB keyboard compatible, lest it dissolve into a clumsy miming showdown. The fact that the characters are saved on the games' servers should parlay other hardware issues - no hard drive required. A network adapter or modem is the only item besides the PS2 needed to play EQOA, which ensures costs to play the game will be kept to a reasonable level. There may still be bonuses or additions hard drive users can take advantage of, though.

It is this ease of use which makes this Online Adventure so appealing. All Playstation users are accustomed to a little load time, but some may find slow Internet connections or server difficulties more than they can handle. If that kind of thing does eventually turn gamers away from online consoles, this won't be the title that sets them off. EQOA may turn out to be the quickest MMORPG coming out for any console or computer. EverQuest PC fans; do you recognize this voice? "ARRGH! I've got the biggest urge to roam the plains of Iksar, but I've got to catch a bus in twenty minutes. It will take at least fifteen for my PC to boot up and for the zone to load!" In EQOA, there is seamless travel between zones and areas, so there is no loading in between. In addition, some game play mechanics have been added to make travelling easier, and the whole player corpse system has been removed, so players don't need to worry about getting bogged down with body fetching.

The result of all this is quality online gaming - spent in intervals of any size - away from the desk and lying back on the couch. That's a prospect that should interest PC gamers. Unfortunately, something has to be lost for the quick loading time, and that something seems to be the graphics. They're still all right, in fact perhaps a bit better than the PC counterpart's: huge colourful backgrounds and well-constructed character models are everywhere to be found. However, a certain blockiness still persists. Well, beggars can't be choosers, right?

The story represents another enticement for PC fans. This game is a prelude to EverQuest, and fans will get the chance to see their favorite locations when they were 500 years younger. What are now deserts were then forests, what are now evil dungeons were bright happy cities. Could prove interesting. In case it isn't, Sony Online promises cheaply priced expansion packs to follow, so there will always be something to do.

The monthly fee to play this game has yet to be determined, but a thirty-day free trial should be offered. We'll know for sure when the game comes out in the first quarter of next year.

by Matthew Scribner

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