Review by Nastradamus

"Mediocre in most aspects but nice eye candy"

Here's the breakdown:
Visual appeal: 9
Sound and music: 6
Gameplay: 6
Control/interface: 8
Speed and smoothness: 7
Replay value: 4

As far as graphics go, EverQuest offers top-notch visuals in its online RPG genre. The finely detailed world scenery and characters are certainly the game's greatest strength. The polygonal player characters and npc's are fairly smooth and display some excellent texturing while the framework of the objects do not degrade performance much at all. Each town has its own feel and mood with the help of some effective lighting effects and care taken in the makeup of every polygon. Outside environments get bland at times, but interesting creatures compensate for that. Dungeons are unique and very cool. All in all, the world makes you feel like you are a part of it, and that is one of the greatest compliments one can say about any 3D game.

EverQuest does not offer quite as much for the ears as for the eyes. Music will, at times, quietly play in the background as you walk through town, but the tunes are forgettable at best. Sound effects aren't the greatest, but they get the job done. You won't hear too many ambient sounds such as birds chirping or maybe creepy huffing from deep inside a dragon's lair. You do, however, get the great DING sound when you level.

In any rpg (or other type of game for that matter) the most crucial element is gameplay, and honestly, this is an area where EQ suffers. When you create character, there are a number of races and classes to choose from. The classes are quite unique and intriguing. You may also choose to boost a few statistics, but a major problem in the game is that stats can only be boosted by items in the game. That may not seem bad, but to make it worse, the statistics do not have a great effect on how well a character plays. In fact, while many ppl search for the same few items in the game, only weapons seem to have a drastic effect on the performance of a character. Concerning fighting style, melee combat consists of pressing the 'a' key and hoping to hit more than miss in order to win a battle. The magic classes are a great deal more interesting. Some casters receive pets to open up a wide range of possiblities to kill an enemy, but in a group scenario, the same tecniques are employed in almost any situation. This brings up the grouping issue: EQ is definitely group-oriented. While a few classes (casting types) can solo up to 50, all others must group past 30, generally. Ultimately, you find that no matter where you fight, or what you are fighting, the system of experience gaining gets very redundant and boring as hell. Others prefer to camp items, which is even worse in many cases, as a player may camp a named mob for days before receiving the desired item. This is the essence of the EQ flaw. The environment is very static. The few GM events are for newbies, and one person may end up with an item, while the rest just get killed a lot. There is no storyline to the game because the players are supposed to make their own, but you do not find many roleplaying at all. EQ should probably be in the online generic genre rather than being considered an online rpg.

The controls and interface are pretty good. There are keys to perform a lot of functions, and a hotkey bar can hold up to 6 personalized buttons at a time. My only gripe with that is that it should hold more buttons and not be so bulky. The spellbook for casters is pretty innovative. It allows a player to memorize up to 8 spells to use at a time while organizing the rest of the spells that a caster knows. The communication system is also well-developed. You can have a friends list that will tell you who is online. You may also search for anyone else and find out their race, class, level, and where they are. The /tell command and some group/guild commands allow for very easy communication while you play.

Lag is a factor in every online rpg and can make or break the game. The methods employed to speed up EQ are quite impressive. Zones split up the world into a number of areas where the environment may change, and players are shut off in a few ways from other zones. NPC's are also limited to their respective zone. These zones smooth out the very polygonal world allowing it to be equally impressive and smooth. The only problem is that players must wait a minute or few while 'zoning' into the next town or dungeon. Zones may speed up the game, but the lack of servers to meet demand kill it. EQ has gotten so popular that well over 2000 players may occupy a server simultaneously. Not only does this make finding a group for hunting or camping difficult, but it generates a huge amount of lag. Until more servers are added, the problem will only get worse.

What is the worst part of EQ? Well, to me, it's the replay value (or nonvalue I guess). To put things in perspective, a player makes a character, camps and hunts until he's level 50, and gets all the best in equipment and experience in cool places like planes. This process may take anywhere from three weeks to a few months (in the game!), so there is no question that the work is hard to reach the prized max level. The fruits of this level are don't live up to the labor involved to reach it, unfortunately. Inevitably, lvl 50's create 'twinks' by accumulating equipment and weapons of a character of their level and putting it on a lvl 1. Then, they proceed to reach 50 on that character, doing all of the same things that they did on their first character. Do you see the cycle of events forming here? Eventually, many players, 50 or otherwise, become uncontrollably obcessed with the EQ, and breaking the addiction is VERY difficult. I am telling you this from first hand experience.

Overall, EverQuest was well developed, in the graphics and interface departments especially; however, it would seem that the makers were more experienced in reading D&D books than playing real RPG's. A final warning: extensive gaming in EverQuest might lead to sleepless nights and rejection of the outside world. And I'm not saying that in a good way.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 02/21/00, Updated 02/21/00

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