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Everquest Online Adventures Review (PS2)
game: Everquest Online Adventures
four star
posted by: Matt James
publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
date posted: 09:10 AM Wed Apr 2nd, 2003
last revision: 03:02 PM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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While Everquest is an old franchise on the PC, it is breaking new ground on the PS2. Not only is Everquest Online Adventures (EOA) the first Everquest game on a console but it also introduces console gamers to whole a new gaming experience. I don\'t play a lot of PC games. I have a lot of reasons but the biggest one is I enjoy the ease of console gaming. It is all ready as soon as you take it out of the box; there is little to no upgrading, and rarely do you have problems with a game once you start playing it. The downside is I have missed out on a variety of great games over the years. One game that I had always wanted to try was Everquest. I had many a friend who had fallen to the game, leaving me feeling a little left out when they would all go directly home from work to begin living their other lives. They all seemed addicted. Perhaps Everquest\'s magic wasn\'t simply in the game. Had my friends fallen prey to some sort of spell?

Then the next big thing in console gaming hit, the thing that PC gaming had beaten us to the punch on by years: online gaming. First the PS2 then the X-box went online. There were a few games, but nothing that really exploited the possibilities of online gaming. That was until one of PC\'s biggest online adventures took the leap to console. Everquest exploits the PS2\'s network adapter like nothing before; it\'s not necessarily all good but I will get to that later. But best of all, I could finally experience Everquest and I didn\'t even have to touch my computer.

My enthusiasm was tempered by a bit of nervousness. I had never played this type of game before and I didn\'t have any friends playing the PS2 version. I have been doing the online thing for a little while with Xbox Live and found my fellow gamers to be an even mix of the good and the bad. As goofy as it sounds, I really didn\'t want to be the newbie goofing up my party\'s adventures. What I found though was one of the best online communities out there, lots of friendly and helpful conversation and groups looking for companions of all skill levels. I ran into very few impatient diehards and even fewer fourteen-year-old potty mouths, who don\'t realize that \"your momma jokes\" are no longer insulting or entertaining. It was a community that you could come into, be welcomed, and feel comfortable. I\'m sure this was one of the allures of Everquest\'s original incarnation, and it continues to be on the PS2.

I quickly found myself drawn to Everquest in a way that a game hasn\'t drawn me in for some time. I was thinking about it while I was working, watching TV, and even hanging out with my girlfriend (much to her chagrin, although she got a kick out of seeing me get pimp-smacked by a boar). I wanted to get back to the game and complete my quests. I wanted to make my character stronger (I would show that boar who was boss the next time). I was becoming an addict, falling just as my friends had fallen before me.

EOA exists in a persistent gaming world. That means when you shut of your PS2 the game goes on without you. Now you have to choose which world will go on without you, the game world or the real one. I know this will be a tough one for a lot of you.

Normally I would tell you a little about the story but EOA doesn\'t really have a story, at least not in the traditional sense. Instead, the gamer is given the opportunity to forge their own stories. There are quests to follow, lands to explore, enemies to be made, and friendships to build. You are able to do these things at your own leisure though. There is no plot line that you must follow. You are able to go anywhere you please at any time; you just better be able to take care of yourself. A back-story from the other games does exist but we aren\'t really given any of that in the game and it doesn\'t have any bearing on the game. In the end, it is liberating and something new and unique for a console game.

You are capable of discovering the expansive world of Norrath as one of ten races (Human-western, Human-Eastern, Gnome, Dwarf, Elf, etc.), with fourteen different classes to choose from (Monk, Ranger, Wizard, Warrior, etc.). As usual each race and each class comes with its own set of unique advantages and disadvantages. Also, not all races are compatible with all classes. For instance, a Barbarian cannot be a Wizard nor could an Erudite be a Warrior.

Choosing race and class is really only choosing the blueprint from which you will create your character. You start by assigning attribute points, allowing you to choose your characters strengths (stamina, wisdom, strength, agility, etc.). You continue to gain attribute points throughout the game, so you can fill-in your character once you discover your weaknesses.

After assigning your initial attribute points you must design the look of your character. It is all fairly basic, nothing like the amazing character builder that Tony Hawk Pro Skater sports, but good enough to add a little distinction to your character. I chose a mostly bald (the Captain Jean Luc Picard look), middle aged, man. I decided that would be a fairly unique look for a Ranger. You are allowed to choose your name from either the pre-manufactured list or create your own. After having four names rejected (they were already taken, get your minds out of the gutter), I gave up and chose one from the list. Now I was ready to be born again unto a new world.

My first quest was to kill a rabid badger and bring back a sample of its meat for studying. It really was more entertaining than it sounds (imagine a middle-aged bald man in a fistfight with a rabid badger!). Even if you don\'t believe me, never fear; I was soon building a weapon, and then joining a party for a quest. This, of course, is when an online game really starts to shine.

Communication is a little more aggravating than what I was used too, coming from playing Xbox Live. There is no nifty headset; instead you have to type out each message. The PS2 is compatible with USB keyboards, but I didn\'t have one. I was forced to use the controller to navigate an on-screen keyboard. Might I say it is also one of the most annoying on-screen keyboards I\'ve used? The pointer constantly jumps from letter to letter in an unforeseeable fashion. It was extremely frustrating never knowing which letter it was going to go to when pushing up, down, or over. On the other hand it was good enough to keep it from severely hampering my enjoyment of the game. If you can afford it, my recommendation is for you to pick up a keyboard. It will save you time and a lot of misery.

One negative way that EOA exploits the online capability is now console gamers are being introduced to the notion of paying a monthly due for the service. The good news is that it is fairly affordable at only ten bucks a month. A smart move on the developers\' part was making a card available, much like a phone card, that you can purchase a month\'s subscription on. This is great for the credit card impaired and parents who would rather not give their credit card number to their children. I have seen these at most retailers and think it is one of the best ideas in online gaming thus far.

Everquest Online Adventures is a huge leap forward for online console gaming. It is a game that not only holds promise but pays off on that promise. It is an in-depth role-playing game that will have RPG fans drooling. People not fond of the genre will probably want to stay away. I hope that the great community will continue to grow and thrive, making the game better and better. Please, if on your travels through Norrath you see a middle-aged, bald Ranger, give him a hand with those pesky badgers.