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PlanetSide

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The original PlanetSide Box Art.
The original PlanetSide Box Art.

PlanetSide is one of the first Massively-Multiplayer Online First Person Shooters (MMOFPS), and was published and developed by Sony Online Entertainment. The game was first released on May 20th, 2003, and has undergone numerous updates since then, including Core Combat and The Bending. PlanetSide received an ESRB rating of Teen. The game is purely a multiplayer affair, and has only been released for the Windows Operating System.

Contents

Story

After traveling through a womrhole, the Terran Republic, a highly centralized galactic government which has ruled humans for the past 1,112 years, discovered the planet of Auraxis. Several expeditions were sent through the wormhole to colonize Auraxis, and soon after the colonists discovered the remains of an ancient alien race, the Vanu. This allowed for the rapid colonization of the ten continents of Auraxis, as well as development of new technologies, most importantly - rebirthing technology. Rebirthing technology allowed humans to deconstruct and reconstruct their bodies, but more importantly, workers who had lost their lives could be brought back to life using rebirthing technology.

However, the colony was soon cut off as the wormhole collapsed, and dissension brewed within the ranks within the Republic. A loss of faith in the Terran Republic caused the colonists to split into three very distinct factions and a war over technology began.

Terran Republic

The Terran Republic consists of colonists who remained loyal to the Republic, and is a conservative, authoritarian collectivist nation with the goal of re-establishing contact with the homeworld and re-unite the warring factions. Thier leadership comes in the form of a public oligarchy known as the Overwatch, composed of various representive officials and thier ministries, who regulate their parts of society with their own expertise and the collective will create favorable outcomes. The Republic feels that authority is the bastion that protects humanity. They feel that in a free society, with no Big Brother figure, misery and suffering will be quickly visited to all. The Republic regards the Vanu technology as dangerous and volatile force which threatens the stability of their order, and only use it in warfare begrudingly. The Republic view of the future is one of peace through their benevolent rule, and a reunited colony through the reopening of the wormhole. The Republic stands by the view that the Vanu were extinct by their meddling with orders of power and fear that using this technology again will drive humanity into a similar fate, causing as much damage to reality along the way. The Republic relies on the brute strength of their armies and fleets, and the application of their superior firepower.

New Conglomerate

The New Conglomerate is a militant seperatist faction composed of anarchists, liberals, and libertarians determined to break and remain free from the domineering Republic. They seek to liberate all of humanity from the Republic, regardless of whether or not they share the Conglomerate's view. As a group of rebels, their leadership lies within the Revolutionary Command, a visible group of military experts who guide the liberation efforts as a whole. They feel that any type of control is oppression, and would rather be a miserable free man than a contented slave. They view Vanu technology as a tool of control, and that the Sovereignty are simply technochratic tyrants, would-be dictators under the banner of science, and just as bad as the Republic, if not worse. Their ideal view of the future is one of freedom and self-government, where each man flourishes in his own way as he sees fit. The Conglomerate relies on their strength in numbers and their ability to strike fast with light vehicles and infantry.

Vanu Sovereignty

The Vanu Sovereignty is a loose transhumanist cult of academics, intellectuals, and technology worshippers who believe that the future of humanity lies within the exploitation of alien technology. Their leadership is the Sovereignty Council, whose composition is unknown to even the members of the Sovereignty and is completely obscured to non-members of the Sovereignty. They see the Republic as an outmoded restriction on the continued development of alien technology and cotinued development of the species through synthesis of man and machine. They also see the Conglomerate as a savage band of thugs, possessed by a mob rule and refuse to see that technology is the future of humanity. The ideal Sovereignty future is one of scientific purity and perfection, and believe that the Vanu race used the power of their advanced sciences to transcend their corporeal limitations and the mundane world, ascending to a superior state of being, and, ultimately, a higher plane of existance. They envision humanity following a similar path, first through the enhancement of humans through science, and, ultimately, the replacement of humans by machines. The Sovereignty is the most reliant on alien technology, and often use it to overcome their shortcomings through the superiority of their engineering, utilizing mind bending physics and high-energy arrays to defend themselves.

Analysis

Within the game, there has been much discussion over which factions are inherently good or evil. Some claim the Republic to be the empire that was intended to be the villains of the game, due to the theoretical similarity to Fascism, although it can be argued that neither the Republic nor Fascism are inherently bad, as they are only doing what they feel is right on the whole, which is protecting humanity from its own incompetence. These same people also tend to contest that the New Conglomerate are the heroes of the game, however, this is also contestable. The New Conglomerate is rabidly anti-everyone and see no room for beliefs other than their own, and also because of the fact that, living in a Liberal Democracy, one might be pre-inclined to see liberty as the cheif concern. Most people agree that the Sovereignty are at least partial villains, due to their embrace of technologies today we say as immoral, and due to their notion of replacing humans with machines. However, this may also be contested as our understanding of such technology such as cloning and genetic engineering stem from the latest science fiction film. Ultimately, it seems as though the developers of PlanetSide were attempting to make each of the factions good in someways, but none of them have are morally better than the other, and all of them have some sort of moral bankruptcy within their backstories. Also, each of the empires are far too fanatical one-sided about their own views to be taken seriously as a point.

Gameplay

At any one time in the game, thousands of soldiers can be fighting across many different types of environments in many different types of vehicles or on foot. PlanetSide is one of the first first person shooters with a persistent war, with one simple goal in mind of all of the players: gain more land while denying the other two factions from gaining land. There are many opportunities within PlanetSide to use tactics, but learning the intricacies and depth of battles can take many months. PlanetSide does not suffer from the 'hands-off' feel of many other Massively Multiplayer Online Games.

Leveling and Experience

Although PlanetSide is a first person shooter at heart, it does have a levelling system. Players can gain Battle Experience Points to gain Battle Ranks which can be used to get certifications, implants, and uniform upgrades. Also, through leading, a player can gain Command Experience Points to gain Command Ranks, which give the players different command related abilities.

Updates

The game is still being actively supported by Sony Online Entertainment, with a patch being released about once a month. These patches usually focus on fixing in-game bugs and adding new content. PlanetSide also has a Test Server like other online games to test changes before they go onto live servers.

The PlanetSide: Core Combat box art.
The PlanetSide: Core Combat box art.

Core Combat

On October 27, 2003, PlanetSide's first expansion pack, Core Combat was released. This expansion pack added new areas and new weapons for players.

Story

A new area underneath several continents was discovered. These caverns appear to be the remnants of the ancient Vanu civilization. Geowarps on six continents, Hossin, Amerish, Ceryshen, Oshur, Solsar and Forseral, were discovered that led to caverns underneath these continents. These caverns reflected the continent above, but no colonist from the Republic had ever seen them before. The Geowarps appeared from thin air, and were not there when the Republic originally surveyed the surface of these continents, and there were no reports of anyone building these Geowarps.

Sovereignty scientists speculate that these caverns were used by the Ancients as a staging house for energies that swept over the entire planet. Also, these underground chambers were not for habitation, but were merely baffles and routing structures for these energies. However, due to an information leak within the Sovereignty scientists, the other two empires also know how to activate the Geowarps and how to take advantage of the information inside of the caverns.

Because of this, the three empires are using these new areas to produce new technologies for war, but because all three empires have access to the Geowarps, no empire has a technological advantage. However, these new technologies could change the face of the battlefield.

Changes to Caverns

With more recent patches, the way the caverns work has changed. Rather than having the six caverns being linked to the same six continents all the time, two caverns are open at any time and are linked to random continents on the surface, and the other four caverns have a countdown timer to when they will be opened.

Ancient Modules

With these caverns came the addition of modules. These are powerful tools, which, when installed in a surface facility, grant that facility and all other friendly facilities in the lattice certain benefits. The six types of modules are equipment, health, pain, shield, speed, and vehicle.

Criticism

Many users criticize Core Combat as an expansion pack, as they feel the content added was not enough to justify its purchase. They feel that the new equipment and vehicles added in Core Combat aren't accessible enough, as it can be fairly difficult to acquire this Ancient Technology equipment. Also, many people state that fights in the caverns do not happen often enough to justify a purchase of Core Combat.

The Bending

On August 14, 2004, the planet Auraxis underwent a change. For a few days before this happened, the planet had been undergoing constant meteor showers. No one knew what these meant, but people kept fighting on. Right before it happened, the meteor showers became heavier, and then, right before it happened, you could hear the words "Bending Sequence Initiated".

Everyone was forced to respawn back at their sanctuary. Everything looked the same, but soldiers noted the different stars. Each of the continents was pushed off of Auraxis and became a smaller planet on their own. The warpgates still funcioned under the normal lattice, but the skies were different. Also, Oshur was removed completely, and in its place were the Battle Islands.

The PlanetSide: AfterShock box art.
The PlanetSide: AfterShock box art.

Aftershock

Aftershock was released on October 18th, 2004. While some people refer to Aftershock as a second expansion, Aftershock is simply a repackaging of the original PlanetSide along with Core Combat. However, Aftershock marked the introduction of a new gameplay element, BattleFrame Robotics (BFR's).

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