Some games just take themselves a bit too seriously. Others, well, just might have enough substance to back themselves up. EVE: The Second Genesis is another ambitious title in the increasingly competitive world of PC MMORPGs. It allows players to travel the universe in their customized spaceships, performing various tasks that are not at all limited to battle. Actually, it is very similar to Earth and Beyond, but EVE might just be in a league of its own.
It is useless to go into too much detail on EVE's storyline, because it is explained in so much depth at the game's website. Suffice to say that humanity has been stranded in a new star system, and the invention of new interstellar travel technology means that there are literally worlds of possibilities to explore. There is a bit of tension between the five races/factions, nonetheless. Each of these factions has their own attributes and histories, some of which are suspiciously familiar. It is among these five races (some high-tech, some genetically engineered, and others just plain crazy) from which the player has to choose his or her avatar when starting the game. Unlike other MMORPGs, which have detailed choices to make when it comes to physical appearance, EVE has only a few appearance options. This is because the player is always in some form of spacecraft. The avatar's image is only ever seen as a portrait when interacting with other players.
Upon creating a character, the player is given a basic ship. From these humble beginnings, great things may come. The player has few options to begin with. First off, he or she will have to do some mining, trading, or gathering of "scientific" data. Doing these tasks will earn the player money, which is also experience points in EVE. Cash can be used to purchase ship upgrades, as well as skill augmentations for the character. Once a few upgrades are made, more possibilities open up. The tasks that sound like they're the most fun are the ones that involve other players. A player can get a job spying on their fellow MMORPGamers, or even ratting out their misdeeds to the authorities. Later on, players can form companies and cartels and employ other players.
To reach such forms of greatness, skills must be built up. There are no classes or levels, but the skill system is extensive and crucial. They are improved by buying skill kits, which raise a certain skill after a certain period of real-time elapses. This obviously gives the player a ton of control over their character's development, but there are other considerations. Each character has a set of typical attributes, for example strength or intelligence. These are established at the start of the game, based on race, and they do not change. All they do is affect how quickly new skills are improved once skill kits are used. Skills are needed to unlock advanced areas of the game, such as space-station piloting.
If the game's music lacks something in the melody department, then it fully makes up for it in its atmospheric value. Some of the tracks are definite keepers. The graphics are also enjoyable. The ship models and their details are good enough to satisfy any sci-fi fan, and the space backgrounds and phenomena are also impressive. It is very easy to imagine some players just spending their time exploring space, taking in the sights and sounds.
When the player is ready for some action, there is ample opportunity for battle. Battle can be waged with a variety of weapons, the neatest of which is the ability to scramble opponent's computers. Win or lose, though, be ready for the consequences. Players have a certain security status, which is lowered by committing crimes and raised by paying fines or (more effectively) doing some community service. A high security rating is needed to acquire certain "licenses" from the game, such as the license to start a corporation. By losing a battle, the player runs the risk of coming up against the most bizarre aspect of the game: the death system. If a player's ship is destroyed in combat, the character will survive in an escape pod. If the pod is destroyed before it can reach a safe haven, then the character dies, and it's time to resort to clones. Clones can be purchased before-hand, for use when death occurs. The more money paid, the more skills transferred into the new body. If the player dies with no clones purchased, then the game will provide a rudimentary clone, but only the attributes are carried over, not the skills. This of course can be devastating, depending on how much time the player has spent building up.
CCP claims that EVE has thousands of solar systems to explore, and promises extra content after the game's release. Combine that with all the jobs available, from bounty hunting to scientist, and that's a lot of things to do in one game. How well it all comes together remains to be seen. EVE could herald the birth of a new era of online games when it is released.