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Eve Online: The Second Genesis
game: Eve Online: The Second Genesis
three star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: Simon and Schuster
date posted: 12:00 AM Sun Jul 20th, 2003
last revision: 12:00 AM Sun Jul 20th, 2003

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By Todd Allen

Eve Online: The Second Genesis is probably one of the most ambitious online RPG's I've played in some time. No, this is not the first online science fiction title to come off the presses, but it is one of the first to try and harness the sheer size of the space environment. Indeed, it seems that in most aspects of the game "larger than life" is par for the course. The game's box warns that your new life in Eve may be too addictive to get away from, which may be true. There are some issues, though, that trip up this game at the finish line. Unfortunately, as cool as it is to have a massive environment, players may begin to tire of the cold reaches that make up outer space.

The story behind Eve is definitely epic in nature. Humans find themselves in a "golden age." They have become prosperous in their exploration and colonization of space. A mysterious wormhole is found and dubbed "Eve" because of the greater prosperity that may be found on the other side. Thousands leave their homes in hopes to strike it rich in new, uncharted space. Eventually all these colonists get stranded in new portion of space named Eve after the wormhole that transported them there. Several millennia pass as the colonists struggle to survive and grow in the harsh new world. Though they all started out the same, five groups distinguish themselves with slightly different characteristics as a result of their adapting to their environment. These five groups represent the ruling nations of Eve, Amarr, Caldari, Gallente, Minmatar, and Jovian. They also are the five races you may pick from upon character creation. Players may not choose to play a Jovian character, though, until they have played Eve for some time.

The races of Eve are interesting in their own way. The Amarr closely resemble the Galactic Empire from Star Wars. They are haughty, cruel, and extremely rich. The Amarr make up the largest part of the population of Eve, once dominating the cosmos. They have since lost a great portion of their power, but still cling to the old days of their glory. Their great enemies are the Minmatarr, whom they once held as slaves. The Minmatarr have since broken free to form a primitive, tribal structure. They are tough and self-sufficient. Just because they appear rustic doesn't mean they can't just as easily whoop your butt.

The next great enmity is between the Gallente and Caldari populations. They're easily understood if you look back to the famous Greek war between the Spartans and the Athenians. Sparta, as we know, was a rigid, highly militarized nation, much like the Caldari. The Gallente race, seemingly patterned after the Athenians, is the only democracy in Eve. They are highly cultured and articulate, which has unfortunately given them a big ego problem. They try to dominate Caldari life, but are unable to completely succeed because the Caldari are about the toughest nuts there are to crack in the world of Eve.

That leaves the lone race of the Jovians. These guys appear to be very similar to the Borg of Star Trek. They are mysterious and they graft mechanical parts into their bodies to make themselves ultra powerful. They have the technology to mop up the galaxy, but their numbers are too small.

When you first start out in the world of Eve you'll need to choose from one of the first four races mentioned and go through a fairly comprehensive creation process. The Jovians will be out of your reach for now. Once you've chosen a race you must pick one of the bloodlines within that race. Following that choice you get to waste a large amount of time customizing your portrait. After you choose a bloodline and appearance you get to alter your vital statistics. These include intelligence, charisma, perception, memory, and willpower. Each race already has its own amount of points in each area, but you'll get five extra points to allocate as you see fit. You continue from there by further honing your character. You must choose a school to attend, a field to study, and a further area to specialize in all the while picking up skills. Every race, bloodline, school, and field has inherent skills tied to it. By the time you finish you'll have a fair amount of skills in your repertoire. Then it's time to get lost in space, no pun intended.

The world of Eve is gigantic. Pilot your way through constellations each made up of several systems of planets, stars, and asteroid fields. Each system is teeming with all sorts of space stations. There you can access the player run market of Eve along with factories and clone banks to use in case of your untimely demise. A few space stations are owned by players who have banned together to form corporations. These corporate stations have several duties attached to them. The CEO must appoint bookkeepers, pilots, factory managers, and security officers to keep his/her station running smoothly.

As you've probably guessed, the learning curve in Eve Online unfortunately falls under that "larger than life" category as well. Players must invest an enormous amount of time into learning the ins and outs of this game. The interface does its best to make life convenient, but the sheer amount of information in this game cannot be denied. In the end you'll probably know more about energy matrix systems in an Amarr frigate than you'd ever want to admit in public.

Eve Online certainly does allow you to get around the galaxy in style with a vast number of ships to choose from. Ships are ranked by their size and usage. Players begin with lowly frigates and can eventually move their way up to massive battleships. Upon joining a corporation players will be able to form their own fleets. This sets the stage for some large-scale battles since corporations are able to declare war on each other.

Players not interested in combat can save their dough for great industrial ships capable of hauling tons of commodities, ship equipment, and minerals. I applaud Eve for providing professions that don't require violent involvement. The new trend of online RPG's is to provide some obscure crafting classes. Eve blows that open with several career options. Professions range from shipbuilding to nuclear science. Those who still wish to live by the way of the gun may find themselves pirating convoys or hunting pirates themselves.

Unfortunately the world of Eve is one bogged down by a very slow pace. In order to get anywhere in the galaxy you've got to pay some serious dues and give up a massive chunk of your time. Most days you'll find yourself mining asteroids for minerals (the backbone of Eve's economy) for hours at a time. There are other ways of making money, though. Players can get into the trade commodity business, but that in time reduces you to running courier missions all day. Even worse you just end up wandering around with no clear purpose. At this point the game's sheer size begins to bite itself in the butt. It's very cool to be able to sell something to someone several constellations away thanks to Eve's galaxy-wide market, but once the realization hits you that you've got to travel millions of miles to get to your purchase that coolness wears off quickly. It's hard to get excited about having to do nothing but travel for hours at a time.

One time-related aspect of Eve Online that I do like is the skill system. Skills are raised not by experience hunting for hours at a time thank goodness. Each skill has five units of mastery. Each unit demands a certain amount of time invested before it is learned. For example if you want to train your mechanic skill from one to two units then you'll have to wait for an hour and a half. As you reach for more units the time demanded becomes greater. That time is whittled away even when you're not online, though, which greatly helps matters. Want a high-end skill, but you're going out of town for the weekend? Just set it and leave.

Visually Eve Online is beautiful. Each ship is modeled with a great amount of detail. If you have mechanic skills you can refit your ship with different types of turrets, which the graphics engine updates faithfully. Sometimes you can intimidate a foe just by showing off a ship bristling with weaponry. Oftentimes outer space can itself be a work of art. Beautiful nebulas, planets, and stars are pulled off with wonderful detail and color. The scale is also well done to show the sheer size difference between, say, a frigate and a battleship or space station. Eve also sports some decent techno tunes that you can sample by using the in game jukebox.

Eve Online: The Second Genesis is quite the bittersweet experience. Fire up the game and you're awestruck. After awhile, though, it wears off and you have to go to work. Sure you can become just about anything in the world of Eve, but in most cases gamers just won't have the time to. Life in this game makes too many of the same demands of real life. I agree that online RPG's should reflect some measure of day-to-day living, but in the end they should provide an escape. Eve Online is for the hardcore gamer that wants to quite literally build another life.