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    Feb 8th, 2008 at 23:54:25     -    EVE Online (PC)

    GAMEPLAY

    A major selling point for EVE is the player driven economy. Outside of the starting safety areas, that is space owned and controlled by one of the four empires, the economy – that is EVERYTHING in the economy, including ships, ship equipment, trade goods, minerals, and other manufactured goods – is entirely driven by player input. I put money into the EVE economy by occasionally mining for minerals. However, those minerals can play a large part in the production of ships.

    Taking those minerals I mined, I can then create ammunition for the weapons on my ship – or even another ship itself. And while I am not directly interacting with another person, by mining minerals for others to use I am contributing to a group of individuals in its goals.

    DESIGN

    As I mentioned in my comments on the gameplay, one of the most innovative elements of EVE Online is the completely player driven economy. The players mine the ore, process them into minerals, manufacture ships and weapons with the minerals, buy ships to shoot each other with, and lose those ships. The economy in EVE is mind boggling in its scale. If one was so inclined, he could plot which NPC regions needed what trade good and make millions of isk (the ingame currency) just by moving around a trade good from where it is readily available to where it is needed. The same holds true for minerals and ships in player owned space.

    However, the economy is not the only great feature of EVE Online. In fact a feature that I hold dear to my own heart is the ability for groups of players, corporations, to take and hold space under their name. This ability to hold space has led to some of the greatest territory wars imaginable. Having two sides fighting with over 300 people on each side is an amazing sight to behold, and the incentive provided by holding space has wrought the formation and destruction of many powerful alliances in the political arena of EVE.

    By giving the player so much freedom to choose and do what he wants, EVE is one of the most open ended games I've seen. All of the goals in the game are created by the player. There is no set level structure – a very good design implementation as it allows relatively new people to still be useful in fighting – and players rely on each other to hold and control space.

    However, even with this, the game is still bland from the actual gameplay perspective. The control of ones ship is extremely limited. And combat is literally a few clicks to target a person and one button press to tell your weapons to fire at them. There is very little strategy involved in the actual combat, all strategy falls into a larger perspective emergent goal based view. All in all though, the gameplay is bland, but fun enough to keep the player involved.

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    Feb 8th, 2008 at 23:38:58     -    EVE Online (PC)

    SUMMARY

    EvE Online is a MMORPG set in the universe of New Eden. The player picks a character from one of the the three dominant races and then can go on to affect the player driven economy and political structure of the galaxy.

    GAMEPLAY

    The actual player interaction with the game of EvE, that is controlling ones spaceship and flying around doing things, is extremely boring. It is not a space flight-sim, like the X-wing/Tie fighter series' – where the player controls the ships from a first person view and has precise flight control. Instead EvE has the player control his ship by clicking around in space. However, I still find myself constantly drawn the the player driven parts of the gameplay.

    The universe of new eden is vast, and much of it's space is under direct player control. I am a member of one of these corporations. The current war we are fighting against an enemy corporation keeps me drawn in and continuing to pay for the game. Were it not for the interaction between the different players of the game, surely there would be no one playing the game at all.

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    Jan 13th, 2008 at 02:40:19     -    The Witcher (PC)

    Gameplay

    Stepping back into the world of the Witcher, the first thing I notice as I move into the first quest line of the game is the variety of the NPC interaction. Like The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, the game world is populated by many NPCs, each of them interacting with each other, or the player. But not just that, the NPCs even have a reaction to the weather. As I ran through a small town, a light rain started, all of the nearby NPCs immediately ran to cover and continued their conversations there. Somewhat of a shocking experience compared to many of the other games I have played where, if there is weather, the NPCs have little to no reaction to it at all. This of course immensely helped the feeling of a real world that the player existed in.

    Further the game has just been fun so far. It is hard to put a finger on why. The combat seems to flow fairly well into the game, and the interaction between the character in the world is quite polished. The story, while still unfolding, seems to be heading in an interesting direction. All of these together seem to propel the player through the world. As, aside from some minor control inconveniences, the movement and flow of action and social interaction is quite brisk and enjoyable.

    Design

    I do however have somewhat mixed feelings from a design standpoint. Having only experienced a small portion of what the game, hopefully, has to offer, I find the design of the world itself to be somewhat bland and restrictive. The first explorable area is a relatively small village on the outskirts of a city, which you cannot enter due to story reasons. The area itself is not particularly boring or poorly laid out, but in order to complete one of the quest lines, the player is required to run through the village, form one side to another, multiple times. By the time I had run back and forth three times it was a fairly frustrating experience. Further, around many area's in the village are fences that the player cannot cross. These low wooden fences seem like they would be no impediment for someone who slays demonic hounds, and yet there they are blocking the path. This is really just a minor frustration though.

    Much of the rest of the game, however, seemed rather sound from a design perspective. In fact, having played many action RPGs, the style of timed clicking in order to execute combos was a nice break from the standard hack and slash style of games like Diablo. Switching between sword styles is easy as well, with just on press of a button. As the game will challenge the player with different types of enemies, it is extremely helpful to be able to switch between sword styles easily and quickly in order to experiment with what works best. Further, the game promises a whole new type of sword in the later levels, which will allow for an even greater selection of styles for players to choose from. Choice with an easily noticeable outcome is helpful for the player, and the game handles this well with the different sword styles in combat.

    Oddly enough, with the story providing all of the conflict in the game, I find that it is almost as much fun to play the game for talking to the other characters as it is to follow the story quests. Many of the NPCs provide useful tidbits about people or quests in the area, and almost every NPC I talked to had something different to say. There was no case of generic line number 25 being used over and over again, and I personally think this will draw in many players who are interested in seeing a realistic game world where every person is different. On top of that, many other characters will have extra dialog options if you have certain items equipped that show your affiliation with a certain faction. Simple touches that make the game world seem much more immersive.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 15th, 2008 at 13:25:54.

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    Jan 13th, 2008 at 00:43:40     -    The Witcher (PC)

    Summary

    In The Witcher, the player controls a 'witcher' or, as the game describes them, a anti-monster specialist. A specific witcher, named Geralt. Built on a revamped Neverwinter Nights engine, the game is either a top-down third person RPG, or an over-the-shoulder view third person RPG.

    Gameplay

    Playing the game was both fun and frustrating at the same time. As abilities unlocked during the introduction/tutorial level, the player would be required to use them at a certain time. Especially for the sword styles, this confused me. Geralt is a master swordsman, why can't I use all of his abilities immediately. Spells too had much the same problem, as Geralt – as per the common story cliché – has forgotten everything he knew when the events of the novel (on which the game is a continuation of) took place.

    However, even with this minor griping aside, much of the gameplay was also fun. The combat is a refreshing change of pace from other third person RPGs, like Diablo or Neverwinter Nights. As combat progresses in The Witcher, the player is required to attack in time so the the succession of blows creates a combo for the most damage.

    Also, the story is amazing. Aside from some dialog that feels really tacked on, which isn't too surprising as the game is translated from Polish, the interaction with each character feels fresh and unique. Sure some of the characters follow common clichés, but the voicing and the dialog make them feel unique and real. For example, one the first characters you meet, Lambert, acts with an egotistical air to another character, Merigold. As you talk to others about the two, you almost feel as if you can understand them better.

    Even with the frustrating beginning, the character interaction available seems to allow for a 'ton' of immersion, which is definitely something I enjoy in an RPG.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 15th, 2008 at 13:25:37.

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