If Planetside should be remembered as anything, it should be remembered as a pioneer. A splendid game that pit thousands of players against each other for the hell of it. The kind of game where someone would be sniping someone from 1,000 meters away, and the distance covered was only a fraction of a percent of the actual map. A massive world where players shamelessly killed each other over petty land disputes and disagreement in hues. Planetside was an online paradise for shooter fans.
As of last month, the long awaited sequel, Planetside 2, has seen its release. Boasting a small army of servers, 3 unique factions, and 3 continents to contend, it's one of the biggest world to do battle in. It's an excited bit, but I'm also a little afraid. Not because I feel the game will be bad, but because the guise of free-to-play is something that always worries me.
Multiplayer at Its Best - There are few things that reach the level of “Holy Hell! Did four fighters just take out that giant plane thing (Galaxy for those who have played the title already) while that tank fired into that fortified position?” that Planetside 2 offers. With fights that can easily reach 100 players fighting desperately for control over a small point, it becomes a hectic hell-zone fast. Not since MAG has a game that truly fulfills the phrase 'war zone' come out.
Land, Foot, or Air - In theory, a game with as much terrain as Planetside 2 could quickly begin to suffer from “driving three hundred miles to granny's house with no game boy” syndrome. Luckily, the developers have thought of that and made traveling to where the action is a little less of a chore. By combining your heavy fire power with your primary transportation, Planetside 2 has minimal breaks between the action.
Fulfill Your Role - Some players may hate the fact that classes are absolutely necessary in Planetside 2, but those are the same selfish prepubescent numbskulls who think saying “u mad bro” puts them on the same intelligence level as Charlie Chaplin. With squad systems set up the way they are, you cannot have a large group of players that are one class. Sure 6 snipers could hold a base against ground infantry, but what happens when the tanks roll in? What happens when all your one medic gets downed as 3 heavy assault players rip through the entrance of your defensive fighting position? Classes are needed, and this game makes players fulfill those roles.
Tactics - The surprising depth in Planetside 2 gives it something that most shooters lack, strategy. Running into an enemy base with your LMG blazing will only serve to give the enemy team target practice as they come out from every shadow to light you up. However, when you wake up and stop trying to be Rambo, you'll find yourself clearing buildings with 3 teammates who are all there to help you out if you take a hit or need suppressive fire to draw the troop carrier's focus from you so you can line up a shot. The developers have allowed this game to be as tactical as players can make it, it's up to them to do it.
That's a Lot to Customize - Every inch of your character from the ground up is customizable. Appearance, skills, weapons, and even your vehicles can be altered in many ways, making every player unique in a huge world. As players earn kills and take key points they gain valuable points that they can use for character, weapon, or vehicle customization. These points can also be earned by purchasing them through in-game purchases, but that takes the fun out of earning your gun.
Explosions Can be Pretty as Well - At the best graphical settings, Planetside 2 is an absolutely gorgeous title. It's a bit of a shame that the vast majority of it is wasted. The scenery and world can captivate a player's mind, but the vast majority of it is ignored as people blow each other to smithereens. A good game of “I spy” can be played while traveling from point A to point B with other passengers, but even then you won't notice how beautiful a title Planetside 2 is.
F2P is at it Again - I hate F2P titles because they aren't “free to play” and Planetside 2 highlights the worst of it. Spend a nice bit of moola and your character is already more powerful than someone who doesn't want to drop $25 on it. Games have to make money, but they don't have to sell power. Paying to make your character look slightly different is fine, paying to gain a huge advantage over everyone else breaks the game.
Not to be Played Alone - If you don't have friends with rigs that can run Planetside 2 with you, you're out of luck. More than anything, Planetside 2 demands you work together with other people. Playing without 2-5 friends can get frustrating, and trying to find people to join up with can often be a struggle. Put simply, it's not a title I recommend playing at 2am after everyone else has gone to bed.
Planetside 2 is one of the best polished FPS titles to come out this year. This is especially good as it's a (mostly) F2P title. Unfortunately, it has the same imbalances that every F2P title has, and the fact that power has a price tag on it. If you can look past that fact, or just decide to pay for the power, it quickly becomes a must-have title. The game mechanics make it a solid FPS, and it's free. There's no risk to playing the title as there are no real investments.