I really don’t care what these people think; we know what’s best for them. The Terran Republic is nothing but a bunch of old fogies clinging to lost ideals, unwilling to adapt to the times, and I think the less said about the Vanu Sovereignty the better. Really, just because you found a couple of glowing rocks in your backyard doesn’t mean you should start a death cult. Take your Lite-Brite armor and get out of our way. The New Conglomerate is here to liberate you, whether you like it or not, and we will Fight for your Future.
Planetside 2 is a massively-multiplayer online first-person shooter and sets the new standard for massive battles. Each server is broken up into three continents, which are 8X8 KM large and allow players to seamlessly traverse from one end to the other. Each continent can hold up to 2000 players, which theoretically can lead to 666vs666vs666 scenarios with each faction trying to claim a greater influence by capturing hexagons on the map. Each one of these hexagons has some sort of capture point on it that provides some sort of benefit to your faction. Be it resources, a vehicle depot, or simply a highly defensible position, there’s something there worth fighting and dying for.
You’re fighting for territory and resource gain for your entire faction. Moreover, unlike traditional FPS multiplayer, the three continents are in a persistent state of war. You may have just spent an hour trying to take over that biolab, but that biolab now belongs to you until another faction can wrestle it away from you. It’s entirely possible for one faction to completely own an entire continent if the other two factions allow it, and it will stay that way until somebody does something about it. A better writer would bring up something about the futility of war and watching these three warring parties continuously thrust bodies into the bowels of hell to capture and recapture the same areas. Me, I’m going to make fun of the way the soldiers look.
The three factions each sport a very distinctive look and have weaponry suiting their back story. The Terran Republic stands tall as an oppressive government with the most professional military. Obsessed with the preservation of law and order, to the point where they’re often seen as oppressive warmongers, the Terran Republic have the fastest vehicles and bullet hoses for weapons. Marching proudly in their black and red armor, it’s hard to look at them and not envision Elmo just having a really bad day on Sesame Street.
The Vanu Sovereignty is your run of the mill cult advancement movement. The VS was formed by a group of scientists who discovered the great potential from alien artifacts on Auraxis, and are hell-bent on bringing these advancements to humanity as a whole. However, this doesn’t exactly fit well into the Terran Republic’s idea of controlling their population, eventually leading to the imprisonment of the top VS scientists. They’ve since escaped, and are using their newfound knowledge to destroy anyone who will stand in the way of them recovering the rest of the artifacts. Their tanks hover off the ground, allowing for strafe maneuvers, while their aircrafts share more in line with an extremely agile helicopter than a jet. Their laser weapons are the most accurate and suffer from the least amount of recoil, but have a massive damage drop off as compensation. With their purple, teal and gray colours, it’s extremely hard to see them as anything other than an extremely well armed Barney the Dinosaur fighting for Space Jesus.
Once you don the blue and gold of the New Conglomerate, you’ve officially entered Smurf Turf. The NC are made up of a rag tag bunch of freedom fighters of varying backgrounds who have joined together to fight back against the stranglehold of the Terran Republic. Those of you who go blue will be armed with the heaviest hitting weapons and the bulkiest armor, but will lose a lot of the mobility that the other factions tout.
With Planetside 2 being free to play, you can expect there is a bit of controversy when it comes to the in-game economy. Players can purchase new weapons and upgrades for their suits through CERTs earned through battle or by purchasing Station Cash with real-world money. As you can imagine, this has caused a bit of controversy with the player base as it reeks of a Pay2Win mentality. To their credit, Sony has tried to avoid this as much as possible, but they haven’t quite nailed the formula down.
The largest method of combatting the Play2Win mentality is by having the weapons be “sidegrades” as opposed to upgrades. The weapons trade off stats in order to placate different play styles and scenarios. While a veteran with a hundred hours logged will have access to better equipment than a brand new recruit, that recruit can still easily compete on the battlefield when it comes to firepower if they know what they’re doing.
Armor and vehicle upgrades can also be purchased with CERTs, and this is where the idea starts to fall apart. Without having substantial time invested in the game, vehicles, especially air vehicles, can be borderline useless in certain situations. It’s important to get those initial points in the right area if you want any chance of being competitive, and the temptation to simply buy your way to air superiority can be hard to deny.
Sony has recently patched the game to increase the acquisition of CERTs, but at this time I’m unable to say if the increase will be adequate enough to curb these issues.
The original Planetside required a fairly beefy system in its heyday, and Planetside 2 doesn’t do much to buck the trend. The test system I used is fairly beefy and did run into the occasional hiccup even while trying to boost up the graphics, although it did stay at a consistently good frame rate. This is definitely one of those titles that will test your PC’s mettle.
Even with a proper rig, there are issues in the netcode and bugs, which can hamper the experience. Players will appear to jitter and jump around, and animations can look a bit clunky at times. When the sole focus is on massive firefights where death can come from any angle, lag can really be detrimental to the player’s experience.
One thing I found odd was the utter lack of a tutorial. Players are thrust into the game without any real explanation of what is going on, which normally means they’ll be rushing headfirst into bullets for the first play through. The menus offer some vague hints as to what to do, but a proper tutorial would do wonders for helping establish a player base with gamers not used to squad-based objective shooters.
As always, the most important aspect of a game regards whether it’s fun or not, and the answer here is an overwhelming yes. It will take a bit for new players to find their legs and fully understand how to maneuver the world, and it’s going to be a while before we fully see how well balanced the economy can be, but the game is filled to the brim with moments only possible in Planetside 2. I’ve randomly joined up with platoons rolling into battle with a literal sea of tanks and I’ve attempted to hold the line as waves of Vanu aimed to overtake my base, all the while listening to all three factions talk to each other with conversations equal part rabid fanboyism and Andy Kaufman level comedy. The game is simply a spectacle to behold, and there is nothing else on the market place like it. If you can run it well enough, you owe it to yourself to at least try what is going to be remembered as one of the largest releases of this year.
This review is based on a PC copy of the game.
Planetside 2 offers something unlike just about anything else out there. While it's certainly not a perfect game, its massive battles and continuously changing landscape will entice gamers to regularly return for more.