Reviewed: January 4, 2011
Released: October 19, 2010
If youíve spent much time in MMO communities, youíve probably heard of EVE Online. The stories of epic scams and heists, as well as the galactic wars between rival corporations seep away from the game, and were what first drew me into reviewing EVE Online: Commissioned Officer Edition of CCP Gamesí space bound MMO. With more in common with Elite and Freelancer than EVErquest and World of Warcraft, EVE stands apart from its competitors, and is nearly without compare.|
EVE Online has been around for almost eight years boasting a massive following of loyal gamers, and a committed team of developers that make continuous tweak and updates to the carefully balanced ecomomic and RPG system. In order to generate new interest from a fresh crop of potential online gamers CCP has just released thee Commissioned Officer Edition that features a Cerebral Accelerator - a military-grade implant that significantly increases a new pilotís skill development. This provides a strong boost to nearly all abilities, even if these bonuses are temporary and only effective for the first 30 days of a pilotís life as they get up to speed in the universe.
Itís hard to sum up what you do in EVE. Itís a massively expansive galaxy, spanning thousands of star systems, from the relative safety of Empire space to the depths of security-free Nullsec, but traditional MMO-style content is sparse. While quests exist, all but the most unambitious player is going to try and find something else to do in the galaxy. As a player, your goal is profit, and like the introductory cinema says, the only limit is how bold you are in pursuing it, whether you mine, trade, hunt NPCís, act as a pirate, or play the social game as a con man.
EVE supports, or at least allows, in the case of scamming, all of these methods of enriching yourself. With systems in place for insuring couriers, selling off minerals, manufacturing equipment for players to use, and selling off goods in marketplaces, any player can get in on making money almost immediately, and CCP has shown an attention to the economy of their game unmatched by anything else in gaming. With in-game money redeemable for subscription time codes, and those time codes redeemable for actual, real-world money through legitimate channels, rather than the shady gold-buying sites other games are plagued by, hoarding cash in EVE takes on more of a significance than farming for imaginary money in any other MMO. Still, the real money, and what I feel is the real game, is in the corporations.
Corporations in EVE Online take many forms, from the newbie corps that new characters automatically join to the high-end corporations that advertise in the official EVE magazine and battle for territory outside of the Empireís borders. While I canít speak for the smaller corporations, the community inside of one of the nullsec corporations is incredible. Inside the game and out, members are in constant contact, planning operations, shadowy intelligence agencies working to undermine enemy corporations while groups of miners and top player-versus-player pilots congregate. Coming from the more isolated social experience of typical MMORPGís, the level of community involvement in EVE Online in a high-end corp took me by surprise and drew me into the game.
The gameís graphics are rather impressive as of the most recent free expansion, and often manage to capture the vastness of space and the alien nature of the far-future human societies that EVE portrays, but the soundtrack is an area where the game excels. The selection of music that comes with the game did such a good job of drawing me into the experience that, when stepping away from the computer during a series of automatic jumps between systems, Iíd sometimes feel disoriented from pulling myself away from the reality of the game.
That said, despite the communities, despite the level of immersion that EVE can provide, and despite, or perhaps, in part, because of the amount of freedom provided by the game, EVE can be hard to get into. I canít really call the game newbie-unfriendly so much as newbie-indifferent. There have been steps taken to guide new players into the game, with tutorials that explain the interface and missions that explain the various ways that players can make money, but they often donít go far enough, or else are plagued with bugs. A military training exercise might tell you to warp to a certain point in space, but when you arrive, itís empty. A mining mission tells you to mine until enemy saboteurs warp in, but the enemies never arrive. As far as introductions to a new game go, EVE can be rough going to someone who isnít already familiar with the gameís ideas and willing to bull through some rough times to get there.
Even before the game starts properly, EVE is short on information. A playerís first choice is to decide which race their character comes from, and what initially seems like a cosmetic choice turns out to affect the ships that the player has easy access to. If you wanted to go toe-to-toe in PVP and you selected a race that specializes in electronic countermeasures, youíll either have to learn more and select the right race or begin training up your skills over the course of days.
Skill training times can also be a drag. To get established in a larger corporation, itís always best to have a variety of skills. But since they train in real-time over hours or days, even with the temporary doubling in learning speed from owning the Commissioned Officerís Edition, it can result in a lot of time docked at a space station, checking occasionally to see if youíre ready to make the trip out to more dangerous space.
On a more positive note, CCP has been nothing short of fantastic when it comes to supporting the game, with numerous free expansions. The most recent, Incursion, is still in the process of rolling out, but with improvements to the skill system, a new system for avatars, expansions of planet interaction, and numerous other features, Incursion will keep new and existing players busy for a while.
Overall, EVE Online is one of those games that youíll either love or you wonít. There doesnít seem to be very much room for casual play, but if it gets its hooks into you, thereís not much more tense than high-stakes cargo runs through enemy space or fighting on the front in a war thatíll determine the future of your corporation. Still, if youíre more interested in questing, PVE, or more linear, guided experiences, thereís not much for EVE to offer you. While the game has a deep, engaging backstory, it rarely bumps into the actual gameplay. For someone more competitive, though, and willing to invest the time, EVE can be a deeply fulfilling game. I have mixed feelings myself, but outside of issues getting started, itís more of a matter of taste than an indictment of the quality of the game.
If youíre on the fence, thereís no reason not to try out the free trial. It might not be for the faint of heart or the short of time, but when it comes to being a space capitalist, thereís not much that compares to EVE, even after a remarkable 7-year run. And things are only going to get bigger and better with the new EVE Online: Incursion expansion. Sign up today!