Planetside 2: Big free fun

When Sony Online Entertainment announced its intentions to create a sequel to the highly popular game Planetside, many fans were thrilled.  They were not disappointed. Planetside 2 captures most of what made it’s predecessor a success, while expanding in other areas that Planetside lacked.

Planetside 2 sports the same three factions found in the first game. The empiristic Terran Republic, The highly techonological Vanu Soveriegnty, and the favored underdogs, the New Conglomerate. Once you choose a faction and create a character you’re ready to start bringing glory to your faction on the battlefield. The first thing you want to look into, after figuring out the basics, is the game’s Certification system. The certification system is your way of acquiring new abilities, weapons, armor, and vehicle upgrades. Certifications are earned through capturing/defending outposts, getting kills, and performing support tasks for you team such as repairs, heals, etc…

There are six different infantry classes that you can specialize in. Spending Cert points in the combat medic class can gain you access to quicker heals and revives, or you could choose heavy assault and upgrade your regenerative shield in order to get that extra second to take down an enemy tank. You can also opt to upgrade your favorite vehicles. Like driving a tank? Dump some certifications into the lightning or one of the factions main battle tanks. You can upgrade everything from weapons to armor systems and even the performance of the vehicle. There are actually so many options that sometimes it can be difficult to decide what exactly you are going to specialize in. If anything can be said of Planetside 2 it’s that it has plenty of options for how you want to play the game.

Planetside 2 also has air units that play an integral role in almost every combat situation. The mix of ground vehicles, air vehicles, and infantry in a persistent online world is one of the things that makes Planetside 2 really stand out from the competition. Air units can turn the tide against an armored column that’s rolling in on your base, or if your armored column is taking heavy fire from the air you better hope that someone has a skyguard handy (an armored vehicle designed to take out enemy aircraft.)

The point is everything in Planetside 2 has been expertly balanced. No one vehicle/infantry class stands out as being over or under powered. If something is killing you constantly, there is a counter for it, though you may have to certify into it.

Capturing territory based on a complex hexagonal map infused with a lattice system makes Planetside 2 unique in not only the fps market, but also the MMO market as well. If you are capturing a territory it must be linked to another territory you already possess. This prevents chaos and maintains a solid front line so that combat is localized and easy to locate on the huge maps. This can also be used by the game’s commanders to coordinate assaults or to cut the enemies supply lines and isolate part of their force.

Planetside 2 offers integrated VOIP and an easy to navigate squad system. There is an option to auto-join a squad whenever  you log into the game. You can always lone wolf it, but you get more exp for helping out your squadmates, the game rewards teamwork. Squads hold up to twelve people and if you find more people want to join you in your fun you can always convert the squad into a  platoon, which is three to four squads. The game offers certifications for dedicated commanders including access to the command chat, squad beacons (which act as spawn points for your squad when deployed) and multiple waypoints that show up to your squad so they know where to go on the map.

The maps  are huge, and waypoints play a pivotal role in keeping the squad together and on objective.   There are three different continents in Planetside 2, each featuring it’s own climate. From the frozen wastelands of Esamir to the dry deserts of Indar and the humid jungles of Amerish, you’ll find beautiful panoramas across all of Planetside 2’s lush landscapes.

The game’s soundtrack, while not groundbreaking, provides good background sound when appropriate, and is faction specific.

The best part about Planetside 2 is that it’s absolutely free to play. No intial purchase or subscription fee is required. Instead, SOE has a store where you can buy station points and use those points to purchase upgrades in-game. All of the weapon upgrades can be purchased with either station points or certification points, leaving you with an option on whether to spend money or earn your upgrades. The good thing is, there is no item that affects the battlefield that cannot be earned with certification points. There are, however, some items that can only be purchased with station points but they are aesthetic in nature, armor colors, armor skins, helmets, etc…

The only thing I will say if you want to play Planetside 2 is you want to have a decent gaming PC. The huge battles, especially when it gets into the range of 200v200 can get extremely laggy on a low to mid end PC. With the price tag being free however, it’s definitely worth checking out.   All in all Planetside 2 is an extraordinary game and stands alongside it’s predecessor as a unique gaming experience.




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