Thursday, March 24, 2011

Perpetuum Online - This is done?

So I heard recently that Perpetuum Online had started offering a 15 day free trial for their game.  I've been interested in this one for a while, but dubious enough to be unwilling to shell out for the game without trying it first.  With a free trial on hand, I signed up, downloaded the client, and last night jumped in for the first time.

Many people have compared Perpetuum to "EVE with robots", a comparison that is not without merit.  Unfortunately, it's apparently "2003 EVE with robots" not the current iteration of EVE.  After just a few minutes in the game I started to feel like I was in an early beta, not a finished product that's charging money.  The game just seems filled with unfinished systems, as everything feels unintuitive and primitive, as if they just added the feature but haven't refined it yet.

The interface is pretty painful, consisting largely of clunky windows-style boxes that take up a lot of space.  The graphics are an odd mix of good (robots and buildings) and terrible (ground textures, plants, terrain).  Even on max settings the most impressive graphics in the game are on the launch screen . . .

The sense of scale is entirely off.  I was led to believe these were giant robots, but the robot you start with feels tiny, like a little spider-bot.  That the legs scurry in a fast blur doesn't help with this feeling.  My speed indicator says I'm going 40kph.  If the legs are moving that fast and I'm only going 40kph, these things must be tiny. 

The real killer though, is the enemy AI.  Well, assuming there actually is any.  The first enemy robot I engaged proceeded to back away from me, and back away, and back away, until it encountered a building . . . and back right through it.  Apparently the computer units don't have collision detection . . but players do.  So it went inside the building and I couldn't follow.  I gave up, moved away, and engaged another target . . . and it did exactly the same thing.  I tried again, this time putting myself between the enemy and the building, so that it would move away from the building when it backed away from me.  Nope, this time it walked right up to me, through me, and into the building.  That was pretty much the end for me.  If you're charging for a game with bugs this serious I don't want anything to do with you.

I might try Perpetuum again in a few years, if they're still around.  I really like the concept of the game, but the current implementation leaves a lot to be desired.

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