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Game Over Online ~ Everquest

GameOver Game Reviews - Everquest (c) 989 Studios, Reviewed by - Prolix

Game & Publisher Everquest (c) 989 Studios
System Requirements Pentium 166, 32MB Ram, 500MB HD Space, 6x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 94%
Date Published Thursday, March 25th, 1999 at 03:30 PM


Divider Left By: Prolix Divider Right

A few years ago a living, breathing, and reacting world played with thousands of players from around the globe could only be dreamt about. However, this all changed with the advent of MUDs and Ultima Online. Despite all the flames Ultima Online has received, it has been truly revolutionary and beneficial to the online RPG society. I say Ultima Online has been beneficial because it has shown developers there is a great interest in this type of game, and the fact that other developers will learn from the mistakes Origin made. As many of you recall Ultima Online received poor reviews, and one magazine even proclaimed it to be the coaster of the month. However, most of the negative comments were directed at bugs and lag, not the overall concept of the game. Many people, myself included, fell in love with Ultima Online because nothing like this had ever been created before, with the exception of Meridian 59. Some players could only take so much abuse the bugs dished out in Ultima Online, and sought an alternative. Well it is finally here in the form of Everquest, the best online RPG ever created.

Everquest is indeed a living and breathing world, seasons change, daylight comes and goes, inflation rises and monster populations plummet. Everquest even comes complete with an immense story behind the history of its world, Norrath. The player can choose to follow it or completely ignore it. As the story goes, an entity only known as the Namless existed. This being created the universe and everything inside of it. Along with creating the universe, this entity created gods. One of the gods, Veeshan, discovered the vast world of Norrath and marked it as hers by depositing her brood on the planet. The other gods soon got word of this planet and how Veeshan had been hiding it from them. In a twist much like that found in Greek mythology, the petty gods squabbled and fought over Norrath. Several gods, led by Brell, made a pact to work cooperatively together, creating creatures for their armies. However, Rallos Zek, the god of war, had intentions of conquering other realms and he dispatched his ogre minions upon them. As time progressed more races were created and changed by the gods. Eventually Eurudite necromancers fought wars with pure magic, killing thousands. This began the age of turmoil, the present time in Everquest.

Upon creating your character you are given the option of playing as one of twelve races. They consist of: Barbarian, Dark Elf, Dwarf, Erudite, Gnome, Half Elf, Halfling, High Elf, Human, Ogre, Troll, and Wood Elf. Each race has their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, Ogres are great at busting skulls but lack intelligence and social skills. On the other hand Erudites excel in the arcane arts, but lack any real fighting skills. In the case of the Ogre, Troll, and Dark Elf, venturing into towns inhabited by races other than their own can become quite dangerous, most races hate these three and will attack them on site. Depending on what type of character you want to play race will play a big role. Some races cannot be necromancers, shaman, paladins, etc…

There are a total of fourteen classes to chose from: Bard, Cleric, Druid, Enchanter, Magician, Monk, Necromancer, Paladin, Ranger, Rouge, Shadowknight, Shaman, Warrior, and Wizard. Deciding what class you want to play is your own personal preference. Each class has their own distinct advantages and disadvantage, so chose wisely. Take a warrior for example, they are a very easy class to play due to their strengths in combat, however, don’t expect to be casting any spells with them. On the other hand, the necromancer can summon skeletons to do his or her bidding, but most shopkeepers will not sell to them due to their evil nature. Magic users are also typically weaker than the other classes, due to their high intelligence. There are a few crossover classes (a blend of two classes), Paladins and Shamans each have fighting abilities and are able to cast spells as well. Although these combination classes might sound good at first, keep in mind they will never be as good as a warrior nor as powerful as a pure magic user.

After you select your race and class you must distribute ability points. They consist of Strength, Stamina, Agility, Dexterity, Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma. Each new character is allotted around thirty points to spend on increasing these skills. Depending on your race and class you will only be able to add ability points to certain abilities. Next you must chose a face and gender, there is about six or more faces to chose from depending on your gender. Gender plays almost no role in the game, its completely personal preference. Although I will admit if you play as a female character the male characters will treat you differently.

The world of Norrath has a total of sixteen factions, or gods, to worship and, depending upon your race you will only be able to worship certain gods. They include: Tunare, Prexus, Rodcet Nife, Rallos Zek, Innoruk, Angonistic (you don’t worship a god), The Tribunal, Quellious, Bertoxxulous, Bristlebane, Brell Serils, Karana, Mithaniel Marr, Caiz Thule, Brell, and Erollisi. The god you select plays a strong role in what factions you will join and how npc players treat you. Most necromancers will worship Innoruk, one of the eviler gods, therefore shopkeepers won’t sell to them.

The sprawling world of Everquest is viewed through either Glide or Direct3D rendering, software mode is not supported. Crafted from the ground up, Everquest’s engine reveals its strengths and weaknesses, but for the most part strengths. Everquest is viewed via first person or several 3rd person camera angles, accommodating every type of player. I prefer the first person method due to the ease of movement. Upon entering the world of Everquest you immediately noticed the magnificent colored lighting and detailed player models. Most of the character artwork is done in such amazing detail it astonishes the player immediately. After wandering through the cities you begin to pickup on all the detail of the textures, it really does create a realistic sense of being in a fantasy town. Detail is even put into the armor you are wearing; if you put on a set of chainmale everyone else will see you decorated in your fine new armor. Wandering the immensely vast plains of Norrath can be very overwhelming at times. The designers set out to create landmarks to be admired and gawked at, something a group of people could admire together… One of my favorite effects in EQ is the rising and setting of the sun, when dusk hits, it is a truly beautiful sight. Along with great effects in the sky there are also weather effects, my favorite being the thunderstorm. In order to create dazzling spell effects, the creators of EQ enlisted the help of a brilliant computer graphics designer. The results of this outside help are rather spectacular. I haven’t seen one spell effect that was done poorly. Take for example the healing spell, hundreds of spiked blue orbs emulate from your body as you cast the spell and then gracefully disappear. There are only a few faults found in Everquest regarding graphics. They all deal with texture overlapping and jagged polygons. Most graphics buffs will not be disappointed with Everquest’s graphical offerings, however, don’t expect something as mind-blowing as Unreal or Half Life.

Getting around the vast lands of Norrath can become quite a chore, there is no recall spell like the one found in Ultima Online. Rather, the players must run to each destination or take a public ferry service. Therefore, the player must be comfortable with the controls. Most of the controlling is done through the keyboard with the occasional mouse click to target monsters and npcs. Just about everything you could want in the game is accessible right at your finger tips. That is; common commands, special skills, player inventory, stats, and spells. Most of the controls are re-mappable, however, personally I had no problems with the ones 989/Verant setup. One nice feature the designers added was an auto run feature, so players could get a break on those long treks between cities. Casting spells is also done via icons on a "hot button" spell list where the caster can memorize up to eight spells at a time. For the most part anyone who is comfortable playing a first person shooter or an adventure game will feel comfortable with the controls.

The weather effects are absolutely amazing, it feels as though you are really in a thunderstorm. Typically you won’t find any sound effects while wandering vast plains, however, when you enter a forest you immediately hear eerie noises that set the mood perfectly. Spell effects are superb as well, the healing spell I mentioned earlier comes complete with mystical sound effects. Unfortunately you won’t hear any speech, all of the talking is done via text box in the center of your screen. All of the spell effects have some mystical aura to them and create a fantasy environment perfectly.

In Everquest you will find yourself out on the open road adventuring most of the time. Don’t become to cozy with one place, you will find you'll be moving constantly from zone to zone. The amount of adventuring you do directly relates to your level. Levels correlate to what type of monsters your character can kill. For example, a level two warrior isn’t going to kill an orc centurion, but a level 20 warrior will have a better chance. Speaking of monsters let me just ramble off a few I have seen; skeleton, decaying skeleton, orc pawn, orc runner, orc oracle, orc centurion, sand giant, hill giant, greater balisk, goblin, ice goblin, polar bear cub, polar bear, ice goblin whelp, wooly mammoth, giant snow spider, spiderling, giant spider, asp, rattle snake, moss snake, darkweed snake, madman, zombie, mummy, pixie, pixie queen, pixie trickster, bat, giant rat, giant scarab, fire beetle, puma, lion, and a snow leopard. Now imagine all those monsters, that’s quite a list isn’t it? The amazing thing is that’s just about nothing compared to the total number of monsters in the game. Most of these monsters are killable solo, however, in order to be really productive and kill tougher monsters you must form a group. Groups can be composed of two people up to six and all experience gained is shared within the group. The only catch is that everyone in the group must be in the same level vicinity, that is level 1 people will not gain any experience grouping with level 10 people. I really haven’t seen many powerful monsters, that’s because I die trying to reach them. There really is an amazing sense of camaraderie when you and a bunch of other people find some massive beast and cooperatively kill it together.

As of right now Everquest is experiencing some highly publicized technical problems due to ISP faults. I feel that 989/Verant cannot be blamed for these problems, as it is a result of UUNet’s (that’s a routing service used by many ISPs for all you laymans. -ed.) poor service. However, 989 did a really noble thing and offered gamers a free two weeks in addition to their free one month with the game. I really appreciated the fact that they addressed the problem quickly and made it public, not covered it up like in Ultima Online. Currently I am not suffering much lag or server down time when there aren’t ISP problems Everquest is a really lag resistant game. On occasion I did notice lag in the form of monsters disappearing and reappearing a few feet in front of me, but nothing too drastic to impact my experience.

Despite the initial problems, which seem to have been fixed at this point, Everquest is an amazing game. I absolutely love playing Everquest and it should not be passed up by anyone. If RPGs really aren’t your thing it’s no big deal, you’re not forced to be a role player in Everquest. EQ shows off some great technology and what the Internet is capable of doing; that is, bringing thousands of people together in an online world. Everquest has an extremely long replay value simply because there is so much to explore and so many classes to play. So what the hell are you waiting for, go buy Everquest now! (damn skippy. -ed.)

 

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Rating
94%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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