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A Decent Shooter Or A Competent MMORPG?
The new wave of next-generation MMORPGs comes in the form of non-targeting combat, where players can freely attack as they see fit; no longer bound to the limitations of turn-based or single-enemy targeting. The upside to this is that players can surpass the fettered restraints of static combat as found in games like World of Warcraft or Rohan: Blood Feud. And while Project of Planets is truly a real-time MMORPG with large worlds to traverse and tons of mobs to combat, it’s also very much a first-person shooter as well, allowing players to freely aim and engage enemies without turns, static positioning or obligatory enemy targeting. In other words, if a player shoots at something in front of them without properly aiming,it's possible it still might hit something.
While I applaud Miracle Castle’s attempt to break into the new wave of MMOs that are as large and quest heavy as they are original, the biggest flaw that Project of Planets has is that it encompasses something new whlie at the same time carrying many burdens of the old generation of MMOs.
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There’s no denying that Project of Planets is a one-of-kind at the moment. Fans of Gundam or Exteel will find themselves right at home with the whole process of leveling, earning new equipment and adventuring through an expansive game world while customizing their mech with all sorts of short range, mid-range and long range weaponry.
Given that the game is non-targeting it means that players need a fair amount of quick-keys to briskly activate skills attached to shoulder mounts, off-hand weapons and other devastating devices. It’s cool that the mechs can pack a lot of firepower but it really could have used controller support to streamline the action on-screen. Nevertheless, unlike other games where skills are earned as players level, skills are instead attached to various weapons. So players can exercise different skills based on the weapons they acquire, which is a very neat addition to the standard-fare MMO concept.
The real highlight of the game, however, falls in line with the ability to roam around and freely attack any foe using the non-targeting option or first person HUD. It suits the games atmosphere quite well but the slightly clunky control scheme – which is quite similar to the control scheme for the other non-targeting MMORPG, Fallen Earth – makes it somewhat difficult to adequately maneuver around.
There’s also a minor or light crafting system in place that allows players to conveniently upgrade or add-on to existing equipment. It’s very easy to use and with the right resources players can increase defenses or damage to the selected parts. The crafting reminds me a lot of the one featured in BattleSwarm, but slightly less savvy.
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It’s really hard to enjoy the quest setup in Project of Planets when it’s so darn repetitive. The biggest issue with the game’s quest setup is that it’s so heavily oriented on grinding. Now, I don’t mind grinding in an MMO. In fact, some of the games with the best quests for grinding include Red Cliff Online and 2029 Online.
In Project of Planets the quests are one of two things: Either players have to talk to an NPC and deliver a message or grind ‘X’ amount of bad guys. Literally, it’s one or the other. It’s safe to say that the quests get boring really fast and are as stale as many of the enemies that will be encountered in the game.
The only upside to the quests is that many of them can be completed rather quickly and it makes it a breeze to rack up experience and level, but only at the expense of incessant grinding.
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The thing that made Red Cliff so fun is that combat was skill-based and players could block, parry and move around during fights, making them quite fun and entertaining. The problem with Project of Planets is that while players can move around and there’s no static, standard-fare targeting procedures hampering down the gameplay, players are given a very stiff combat system that feels very weighty and uninteresting.
And even though players can freely use the mouse to aim and shoot at whatever target they please -- which is very similar to the gameplay functionality of Fallen Earth -- trying to move and shoot is such a hassle and ultimately it’s just more convenient to stand still and fire away as opposed to trying to use any sort of evasive maneuvers to take down foes.
Having a fair selection of heavy firepower at one’s fingertips makes the game fairly interesting, though. And for the most part the weapons behave quite well, but the overall gameplay feels so very, very soulless.
In Exteel there was this vibrant and enthralling feeling of accomplishment per every battle, whether a player won or lost. In Project of Planets so much of it just feels listless and nonchalant, and I feel a lot of this is a combination of having poor quests and the lack of making it convenient to exercise mobility during combat
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While the game may have its faults, it’s still partially fun to play because the gameplay functionality itself is not broken. I found myself somewhat entertained with leveling up the mech and using the very easy-to-use crafting system to upscale items. I actually enjoyed those elements of the game because of their affability toward newcomers and had the rest of the questing been streamlined like the crafting system then maybe the game could have been more fun.
The major issue comes in with having to constantly kill the same robots over and over again, or in some cases, killing one robot 300 times before reaching a certain level. It just becomes horribly tedious after a while and only diehard mechanaut fans will find Project of Planets thoroughly fun.
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Graphics And Sound
The visual aesthetic of the game is actually quite sound. The mechs have distinctive looks about them and the higher level the mech the cooler they look. Their model designs aren’t intricately detailed but they’re good enough looking to be passably appealing. The lighting system has a somewhat dull and tiresome look, and there’s an annoying motion blur that kicks in whenever a mech moves. Nonetheless, on the higher settings the game has a clean look and the crisp environmental designs help convey a convincing, mech-warfare atmosphere. My only real complaint about the overall visual theme is that much of it just comes off as being boring to look at.
The sound isn’t bad and most of the explosions and gunfire come across with a decent quality. It’s by far no where near as convincing as the sound in Mercenary Wars or Cross Fire but it’s good enough. Most of the audio soundtrack is also the standard-fare instrumental set but it’s nothing special
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If you could sum a game up as being completely and entirely mediocre then Project of Planets would be that game. It manages to stand within the realm of being a next-generation MMO yet does nothing to separate itself from the old-school mechanics that many gamers have become increasingly tired of, including the non-stop grinding and endless dispatching of mindless, enemy mobs.
Gamers who may have liked a game like Exteel but wanted something more slower-paced and long-winded with its character development then Project of Planets wouldn’t be a bad choice. But any gamer who has already been accustomed to the likes of MechWarrior probably won’t want to take any steps backward with this game.
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