Review by Meep

"I am not impressed."

Ah, EverQuest -- infamous for its beauty, its grace, and its enormous following. Unfortunately, the moment I began playing this game, I realized that the following was all it had.

Let's start at the beginning, however.

I was combing the aisles of Wal-Mart, looking for a decent PC game amongst the endless piles of utter crap that lined the shelves. War of the Ring here, Law and Order there, some cheaply priced strategy game package over in this corner... I was going to turn around and head to Hastings, where the good games are, when something caught my eye. Underneath the overpriced Dark Age of Camelot sat EverQuest, a game I had heard quite a bit about. It was supposed to include vast worlds filled with lush environments that were populated by all manner of gallant beast. It was supposed to be addictive. It was supposed to be fun. And it was less than twenty dollars.

Pity. I still feel ripped off.

The storyline is simple enough, with you being thrown into any number of ''hub'' cities that serve as main locations for certain races. Your character starts off at the bottom and has to work his or her way up the ladder by means of endless badger hunting. Right from the start, EverQuest becomes a tedious lesson in patience as you run around and kill things in order to get gold and experience. The gold goes in your purse and the experience goes towards improving your meager stats. Once you're finished selling off pitiful treasure like pelts or necklaces, you hike up your sleeves and head back to work.

I grind my teeth and hope this gets better. Hours pass and turn into days. Days melt into weeks.

Soon, after an endless, bleeding haze of grinding boredom, I found myself with enough gold to buy some nifty new equipment. For quite some time, your character will look pretty much the same as everyone else.

Only through mindless hacking and slashing will you grab enough money in order to outfit yourself with the gear needed to withstand the higher levels creatures that you will, once again, mindlessly plow your way through on your quest for... more gold, more experience, and more weapons and armor. It's an endless cycle that becomes EverQuest's greatest flaw.

Not to say, of course, that the rest of the game actually succeeds on some level, since pretty much every aspect of EverQuest fails to sate even the most base of gaming desires. The graphics, for one, are bland and uninteresting. Anyone who tells you that EverQuest looks better than Final Fantasy XI is wrong. There is no matter of opinion here, simply fact, and the fact is clear: even at the highest possible setting, EverQuest's graphics don't even brush up against the soles of FFXI's feet. Period.

Not to be outdone, the music and sound take enormous strides towards the goal of out-sucking everything else. Tinny, irritating MIDI formats died long ago. Unfortunately, it seems as if the creators of EverQuest missed the memo which stated that we're listening to actual music now -- not synthesized drum beats and bromidic pinging and whining. There are a few memorable stretches of musical decency, but this entire front is every bit as flawed and completely disappointing as the rest of the failures which came before it.

The controls, while decent after some customization, are still barely tolerable. The entire interface is clunky and controlling the camera is hell. It is extremely easy to get lost the first time you play thanks to a sloppy control scheme that is workable only after a fair bit of organizing the windows littered across your screen and remapping the keyboard in order to keep from pinching the nerves in your hands. Once you get the hang of things, maneuvering around the drab EverQuest universe is somewhat simpler, but no less depressing and insipid. Strange occurrences such as getting stuck in doors and accidentally stepping across the brilliantly placed zone boundaries(leading to a load time that isn't very long, but still insufferable after the fifth time you do it) sprinkle themselves about in seemingly random places; insuring that you, as a gamer and as a person, will want to kill someone.

All in all, EverQuest simply fails to live up to expectations. The sole reason for your existence in this world is to kill things and gain more ''phat lewt''. That's it. I expected actual roleplaying here, but throughout my countless hours of playtime across several different servers, I only saw a handful of conversations; pretty much all of which were OOC chats between people standing around the city. No one so much as spoke during the nerve-wracking loot hunting that you're forced to go through, so forget about actually playing a role and becoming someone else. Neverwinter Nights is a hack and slash adventure that can be every bit as boring and tedious as EverQuest, but NWN has an actual story to it, as well as an online community in which you can hop into the shoes of an adventurer and sate your fantasy needs via many well-done mods created by players just like you.

In the end, EverQuest is nothing more than a higher budget Runescape; a sad and miserable achievement that feels like an extremely watered-down, player-created mod of a game that wasn't even good to begin with. Everything here, from the painful control scheme, to the coarse graphics, to the repetitive, maddening music which threatens to pierce your eardrums -- everything, EVERYTHING -- seeks only to annoy the hell out of you and lie to your face by passing itself off as something playable.

Why people say that this is good, I have no idea, but it is receiving the very same score that .Hack did -- saved from a lower judgment only by the isolated amusements I found while traveling the otherwise downtrodden, destitute world of the ironic and undeserving success that is EverQuest.

This amusing story ends as a failure. EverCrack, indeed. ^_^

Reviewer's Rating:   1.5 - Bad

Originally Posted: 03/12/04

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