EverQuest II Review
We head online to enter the world of Norrath, in the follow-up to the hugely successful EverQuest.
Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 18th March 2005
- Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Release Date: 18th November 2004
Despite the fact that EverQuest wasn’t the first massively multiplayer online role-playing game of its kind, it was by far one the most popular and still is to this day. It’s widely regarded as the MMORPG that introduced the genre to the masses giving many gamers the first taste of online role-playing adventure. With this in mind it comes as no real surprise that a sequel has been spawned after many years in development and despite the fact it’s in no way as ground breaking as the original it still delivers a good playing experience and probably one of the most complete you will find in the MMORPG market.
EverQuest II is set in the same world of Norrath as the original although it is vastly different due to a cataclysmic event that only left two major cities standing. Freeport home of everything evil and bad and Qeynos the shining light in the world of Norrath. Which of the two cities your character starts in depends on what alignment you give your character during the creation process, good or evil!
As with any MMORPG creating your character is your first port of call and despite not offering too many options, what is there should be enough to create a pretty unique looking character of which you are allowed four per account. The game features the same races as the original with the exception of frogloks which don’t appear to be playable. EverQuest II also introduces a new race for players to play as, a rodent type race known as ratonga. You can choose to play as either male of female versions of your chosen race and can customise such things as hair, face shape and so on. As mentioned above you must also select your characters alignment as either good or evil although some races are restricted to only one.
When you actually get down to playing EverQuest II for the first time you’re given the opportunity to play through an optional tutorial mode set aboard a refugee ship. The tutorial does a good job of introducing you to the basic controls in EverQuest II and the games combat system and also serves up some useful information so it's worthwhile playing through even if you're familiar with MMORPG’s.
After playing through the games tutorial you are then placed upon the Isle of Refuge, which just happens to be the perfect place for new players to get to grips with the game and earn some much needed experience. It’s here that you’ll also have to decide on a profession for your character. The profession system in EverQuest II differs slightly to that found in the first game. Firstly all professions are open to all character races; also initially the game only lets you choose from four types of profession, mage, priest, fighter and scout. Players can then refine their profession after gaining several levels from a list of specialised classes which then progress onto several subclasses. For instance if you choose to be a Fighter you can later become a warrior then a berserker, however unlike some recent MMORPG’s there’s no profession swapping later in EverQuest II so it worth giving it some thought before making your final decision as your profession effects what skills your character can learn.
One of the biggest differences between EverQuest II and its predecessor is that the game offers a lot of opportunities for solo play. There are many quests within the game that can easily completed by a single player although sooner or later the game will require you to work as part of a group.
EverQuest II features a good guild system, that lets you easily create your own guild as long as you have six people to found it with and of course enough gold! Guilds are handed writs by the town they’re based in, when players from a guild complete these quests the guild itself gains experience points. In EverQuest II guilds are encouraged to grow and expand quickly, this encouragement allows for a good rivalry between guilds as each one struggles to become well known within the game.
Unlike many recent online role-playing games a player vs. player component is totally omitted from EverQuest II, while this limits the amount of competition on offer in the game players should be able to get enough from the well implemented guild system mentioned above.
The combat system in EverQuest II is pretty fast paced and is similar to that found in Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XI in that you exchange blows with an enemy until one of you dies. During combat, players can use special abilities to try and gain the upper hand and defeat the enemy. It’s a good system that gets you a little more involved in the action instead of you just sitting there and waiting to see if you make it through, you really feel like you are affecting the outcome of a battle.
However should you die all is not lost in EverQuest II, you get to keep your belongings instead of your corpse being looted by any player that happened to be nearby at the time of your fall. Also the game follows in the foot steps of some of the more recent online role-playing games in that you are given an experience penalty that must be worked off before you can gain anymore experience points. However travelling back to the spot of your death enables you to your soul shard. When you collect your soul shard the affects of the experience penalty are greatly reduced meaning you can quickly get back on track.
One of the most pleasing things about EverQuest II is how complete the game is. Many online role-playing games are released with chucks of the game missing which often leads to players becoming extremely frustrated at not being able to complete quests they’ve spent time doing. Also when a problem does occur there’s usually an update available shortly after to address it. Unfortunately, all is not perfect on the stability front as the servers used for the game are quite frequently going offline. Several times during playing the game the servers were unavailable for technical reasons.
Graphically EverQuest II is very good; environments feature an excellent amount of detail with a lot of nice touches, here and there, such as creatures swimming in lakes and in the sea. The game worlds seem to sprawl out endlessly. However, there is a downside to this beauty and that is you will need a pretty serious piece of kit in order to run the game in all its glory, having said that, players on lower end systems can still enjoy the visuals the game has to offer and it is by no means bad to look at in lower detail.
Sound in EverQuest II is exceptional; the game features a soundtrack that fits in perfectly well with the fantasy setting, while sound in the game world its self is highly convincing. Breaking away from many online role-playing games, EverQuest II features a lot of speech from non-playable characters. Actors Christopher Lee and Heather Graham both lend their vocal talents to EverQuest II and it’s a nice change from the seemingly silent genre.
While EverQuest II may not be the revolutionary title that the original was it does take steps in the right direction despite not offering anything that hasn’t already been done in other titles. Overall the game provides a very solid playing experience in a genre where half finished games seem common place.
Review Score: 8/10
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