After recent console releases such as Halo 2 and GTA: San Andreas, similar games may have been expected on PC. Instead, Everquest II is released. To some this will be great news and mean hours on the PC raising their ‘disease resistance’. To others it will be a signal that while the consoles zoom ahead and produce ever more high tech and amazing games, the PC side of the market is regressing. Everquest II however manages to mix high-tech technology with its old style of gameplay.
Everquest is an online RPG game in which you live in the fictional land of Norrath. It is not necessary to have played the first game to understand this one. There is a subscription to pay per month to play the game, which may put some people off from the start. But the limited edition game comes with a 30-day free subscription included. There are some new features - most notably the ability to customise your player’s appearance, with hundreds of characters to choose, from Ogre to Elf. Characters’ strengths and attributes are determined by gameplay, and so cannot be chosen. There is also a helpful compass onscreen to aid direction.
Gameplay is rather odd. It seems to involve such tasks as paying rent and doing work (dictated by your chosen profession), which I wouldn’t have immediately chosen to put in a video game. But it is surprisingly satisfying to do a good job and in turn be promoted. Daily chores aside, you can bide your time slaying creatures that are likely to annoy you while you are working.
Combat is fun, but can soon become repetitive. The idea of being able to battle other players online is still a continuous matter - after all no company wants anyone to kill off its subscribers - and so for the time being at least, it is not possible to have one-on-one combat with another player.
Because of this you have to question the aim of the game? Life can be mundane enough without repeating that in a game (in spite of the success of the Sims series). The purpose appeared to be to rise to the top of your profession and become resistant to the elements. These stats could have been used in combat with another player, but they seem to be little more than trophies.
The graphics are amazing, which was only to be expected. There are amazing sweeps of scenery as well as detailed interiors. There are however exceptionally long loading pauses at the beginning of a game, at the end of a game, and throughout. Despite having the required operating specifications and 512K broadband, I experienced frequent freezing and jumping.
Everquest does succeed in its overall aim and the new version brings new elements to the already popular game, however due to its very long and often interrupted gameplay, this probably is unlikely in our minds to win many new fans.