PlanetSide 2 Review
A rough but competent combined-arms shooter made remarkable by unparalleled scale
Taken as a whole, Planetside 2 is rather spectacular. The most memorable and thrilling moments aren't the firefights themselves, but those moments when you are walking around, just observing. Watching as fighting occurs as far as the eye can see while the sun sets on one of the most beautiful backdrops in gaming. Only it's not a backdrop. Everything you see is part of an endless conflict that involves thousands of players. As you stop slogging to ponder this wondrous realization, some dastardly sniper puts an end to your gaping with a well placed bullet to the noggin. The spectacle in Planetside 2 can be so engrossing that you forget what you came in to do: kill, conquer and blow stuff up. That's because Planetside 2, at its core, is a competitive combined arms massively multiplayer online first person shooter (henceforth a ccammofps) that has more in common with Battlefield than World of Warcraft. When each aspect of the game is scrutinized, a good number of cracks and creaky joints appear, but the scale is so vast and the spectacle so astonishing that these rough edges are ultimately transcended by the tremendous overarching design.
Bio Labs let you warm your fingers after time in the frozen tundra of Esamir
In a nutshell, Planetside 2 revolves around three factions fighting to control three different continents. Each continent, roughly 5x5km in size, is sub-divided into areas controlled by a variety of outposts, mining operations, power-stations and tech-plants. Capturing one of these areas will grant control to one of the factions, and also provide benefits such as the ability to deploy more powerful vehicles or to gain resources at a faster rate. If a faction manages to conquer an entire continent, they are granted a bonus in the way of discounts on purchases of vehicles or infantry upgrades. Each continent can hold up to two thousand players at once, resulting in ongoing and intense conflict along the front lines between factions. When all three factions collide and fight for control of a single area, the action can become incredibly intense and simply surviving can become a challenge.
The broad strokes of Planetside 2's design seem simple enough, but dig a bit deeper and there is a lot of complexity here that manifests itself in a slew of blinking icons and layers of seemingly encrypted menus. Planetside 2 has no in game tutorial, and will completely baffle new players who jump in without having watched a few tutorial videos in order to become familiar with the basics. Things like character customization and moving between continents are buried in unexpected places, and if you go in without making an effort to learn about the many important details you will likely be overwhelmed by them. Once you figure out how the menus and map works, everything is highly functional and allows for easy access to squads and ways of getting into the action quickly, but the learning curve in Planetside 2 is steep and impenetrable if you don't find external tutorials.
This is either a bug or a very cool unlock
To illustrate some of the complexity I will describe the process involved in capturing a tech plant. The facility has an outer wall, an inner courtyard with a number of small enterable buildings, and a large central building. The outer wall has large openings with shields that allow only those who are part of the faction that control that base to enter. The enemy team must send infantry through side doors and over the walls using jet-packs into the courtyard in order to disable the generators that power the shields for the outer-wall. To do this, the infantry must over-load the generator and then defend it while it overheats and eventually explodes. This disables the shield and allows the vehicles of the attacking faction to enter the inner-courtyard. The large central building also has shields which are multi-layered and powered by multiple generators. These generators must be destroyed using the same process, allowing the attackers access to the central building. This building contains a single battlefield style capture point that the attackers must hold for a fairly long time, after which they will have captured the base. There are also spawn-generators that allow the defenders to spawn, vehicle and infantry terminals which can be hacked or destroyed, turrets on the outer-walls which can be hacked or destroyed, and generators which power the gravity-beams that allows players to rise or fall great vertical distances.