PC REVIEW: VENDETTA ONLINE

Vendetta Online is like being handed a frozen turkey - it sure looks yummy but you can't get into immediately. It's going to take some time to cook before it can be enjoyed the way it was intended.

Not to suggest that Vendetta Online is a turkey, far from it. It's got potential to be an excellent game within its own genre but it's going to take some time before it realizes its potential. It needs more players online. For a persistent online RPG to work there has to be large communities of online players. The universe in Vendetta Online is vast. There are literally thousands and thousands of areas to explore but the overwhelming majority of them are empty. It's almost been three months since the game was released and although it's getting a little busier, it's not a tremendous growth rate by any stretch.

Events in the game take place in the future, in deep space. All of the playable characters at this point are all humans. There are three factions that all originated from Earth when a wormhole was discovered that led to another planet called Terra II. Eventually that wormhole was closed which trapped the inhabitants there. Eventually they began to feud and formed two groups, the Serco and the Itani. A third group was formed when the two went to war against each other. This third group eventually became known as the United Independent Territories. They all live in different areas of the universe and interact with each other with varying degrees of intensities.

Choose your side and get in the game. Once you have a character with a name and an alliance, simply choose which planet you would like to start on. The way you conduct yourself will determine the reaction of the other factions toward you. A low faction level may cause them to shoot at you while a high faction level will allow you to purchase goods from them at a considerable discount. As long as you're in your own faction's area you are always safe. Even if you're challenged to combat you have the right to accept or refuse it.

All of your experience points will be gained by performing missions which can then be used to acquire more weapons and skills. Missions are found at the various spacestations you'll encounter throughout the universe. Most of the missions are of the trade, explore and combat variety. The combat will be supplied by AI and this is where things really pick up. There's a tutorial at the beginning of the game that will prepare you for fighting. You'll learn how to control your ship and use your weapons, all of which are somewhat inferior, but you'll earn some experience points from the training which you can put towards customizing a more powerful ship.

Pirating is a profession in which you can make a lot of money quickly but you'll end up with a bad faction rating which means that you'll bring a lot of heat on yourself from the various factions. If you're too bad you'll become a wanted man and find yourself hunted down by the nation's guard. You can make some money as a bounty hunter by capturing or killing pirates. If you prefer a less social activity perhaps mining for elements in asteroids would fulfil you. Just shoot into one and start extracting minerals. You can sell your resources for cash at the space station. There's a built-in safeguard concerning this activity. You can't just sit on your asteroid all day sucking out cash. The asteroid will begin to heat up and the extraction process will grind to a worthless trickle. Time to move on. Using asteroids as a steady supply of cash is the equivalent of giving blood.

It's really hard to get the big picture of this game. After a day or two of play it seems as though you've seen it all, which you haven't since it's so huge but it makes you wonder how different it can be from one end of the universe to the other. It all seems the same, only the planets change to indicate that you're in a different section. The ships aren't varied much either. You can only add weapons. You can't change the shape or color, which may be a good thing so they don't all end up looking like gaudy NASCARs.

The universe is huge and empty. It's void of sound for the most part. There is no dialog and the music, although well suited to the loneliness of space, becomes too repetitive. Maybe things will change when, or if, more people come aboard.

Vendetta Online has everything that a game like this needs to draw players to it. It's virtually flawless, from the mechanics to the storyline. At the very least you can say that the developers prepared the most fertile soil where such an adventure could take root and flourish - for perhaps years. All it needs are the seeds.

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System: PC
Dev: Guild Software
Pub: Strategy First
Release: Nov 2004
Players: Multi - Online
Review by Kelly
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.0
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
1.5
VALUE
2.5