Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Planetside: Then and Now

Good news. SOE was able to get back to me with the information of which one of my two old accounts has my Planetside character on it. Time has a way with fooling you sometimes so I got curious and dug up the character info page on WingedNazgul. Last logged on over 5 years ago when I left the game for City of Heroes. Back then, I was part of the Sturmgrenadier outfit which was infamous for their recruitment video. If you look real closely, you can see my tag around 3:55 and in other parts of the video. I seem to remember driving some of the Galaxies and Vanguards in some of those shots as well. As an aside, the guy who talks about nuking the tower would go on to be the guild leader for my first ever WoW raiding guild.

Cheesy voice acting and attempts at roleplay aside, the video does do a good job at depicting the level of organization we had in those halcyon days. At the height of the outfit and game's popularity, we had the ability to population lock whole continents (now planets it seems) by ourselves. Everything from teamspeak protocol to battlegroups organized around similar certs was handled with ruthless military efficiency. Sturmgrenadier started out in WWII Online and many of its founding members came from military backgrounds in real life. So it wasn't too much of a stretch to apply familiar doctrines to the new game. It was hardcore and I absolutely loved every minute of it.

When I log on to Planetside now and play, it's a whole different experience. It's a lot more casual now. You find out where your outfit squad is and go join them. If there isn't an outfit squad formed, you can pull up a list of squads and put a request in to join those instead. It's very similar to the open group mechanic in WAR. You get a feel for where the action is by where the majority of squads are operating from. But even if I join a full platoon of squads, there's very little direction given by the squad or platoon leaders. Everyone pretty much does their own thing although the CR5's still try to direct the flow of the war by barking out over global every once in a while.

But, hardcore or casual, the action in Planetside remains the same. Depending on enemy activity, it can range from boredom to frenetic scenes of carnage straight out of the best war movies. I just wish they would take a page out of Wizard 101's book and price their MMO more realistically. At $14.95 a month, I can't just can't see it. But at $9.95 a month, it would definitely make me think about it.

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