do you top a classic like EverQuest? With EverQuest
2, that's how.
has done it. They have managed to create a sequel
to one of the most popular MMO games of all time,
EverQuest, with the release of EverQuest 2. In the
last five years we've seen a variety of games expand
on the EverQuest formula with good results. The problem
with an epic game such as this is that it's impossible
or at least financially infeasible to keep up with
the latest trends in the genre every year or so. But
this sequel has benefited from observing exactly which
new features have been embraced by the imitation games
that it's spawned. By combining the best elements
of past and present games, EverQuest 2 has also managed
to come up with a few new additions that will serve
it well into the future.
2 is the adventure that keeps on giving. You can sense
that things are a little slower at the beginning which
may annoy some of the old vets. New players are greeted
by a tutorial which does a really good job of explaining
life in the fantasy-based world of Norrath. Think
of it like a surreal adult version of Sesame Street,
full of strange characters where anything can happen.
Most of the information you will require will be acquired
through conversations and adventures as opposed to
having to learn the entire story of an enchanted prince
and his evil, magical uncle - and the forty other
incidental characters that comprise the story. In
EverQuest 2, you make up the story as you go along.
can be heavily customized to your specifications.
There are elves, dwarves, sorcerers, monsters and
other strange beast-like creatures. Once you affiliate
yourself with good or evil, after a few practice sessions,
you will be transported to either the good or bad
side of Norrath. Unlike the original where you would
travel around looking for good or bad character, they
all start at the same place based on their moral predilection.
This tends to streamlines the quests for specific
missions. Not to say the game is linear, there are
hundreds of quests. It's just that you won't be wasting
time on aimless journeys. The sense of freedom remains
combat and exploring will earn you points and help
to automatically level-up your character. Things are
pretty slow at the beginning. It seems that all of
the characters are much too similar at least up to
the eighth or 10th level. Some could argue that the
classes are well balanced. It's only until later with
the implementation of Guilds that high level characters
will be differentiated to any great extent. There
is a lot more flexibility among classes to develop
a variety of different skills - although you'll never
be able to turn a sorcerer into a warrior.
has been made more interactive. It's still not in
real time but at some specific intervals you can introduce
new moves, items and abilities. Monsters have colored
indicators over their heads to indicate their powers
so that you can avoid ones that are superior. If you
get locked into combat with a powerful one you can
call for help. Otherwise you can take these more powerful
creatures on by getting characters together in groups.
It's great to be able to team up for combat but you
can't team up for quests.
and moves are now confined to one power bar. As long
as you're healthy it's fairly easy to replenish. If
you do manage to die, you will respawn close to your
place of death. It will cost you some penalty points
but you won't be completely powerless. You will still
have some clothes but they will only be slightly deteriorated.
It won't cost a lot to get back up and running. You
can lesson the penalty points by following a temporarily
highlighted trail back to the scene of your death,
but you have to be quick.
are lots of adventure and tons of NPCs to interact
with. You can perform quests for them, get information
or purchase upgrades from them. Conversations are
more detailed. You can choose more branches from the
bubble tree to steer conversations to your area of
interest. Many of quests are fetch-related. Fortunately
the quest items don't take up any of your inventory
space which is already limited. You will end up doing
a lot of walking back and forth since you have to
explore to locate an item and then bring it back to
where you started. At some points in the game you
will be able to cover large distances with faster
means of transport such as mass transit vehicles and
won't be able to appreciate the entire scope of the
graphics until later in the future. While what we
have here is amazing for such a huge game, you will
need a bigger and better computer system to see everything
at the maximum resolution. That's good planning.
cities and towns are diverse and detailed. You can
usually tell the quality of the graphics by how the
skeletons in them look and animate. (Every fantasy
game has to have a few skeletons). They have so many
visible moving parts not to mention their individual
ribs. Not only do the skeletons look fantastic but
they produce intricate moving shadows which is the
coup de grace.
add more personality to the game. One thing that was
prevalent in the original was the feeling of isolation
one experienced, despite the myriad of interactions
with hundreds of thousands of characters. With voiceovers
and the ability to team up with other characters there
is more of a sense of community than ever before.
2 is poised to recapture the minds and souls of countless
gamers from around the world where they will be held
prisoner of their own volition. Turning them into
helpless addicts feeding off the energy of an artificial
world they help create which can sometimes be more
real than the one they've left behind.