From the official beta testers website: “As of Friday April 11, 2003, the PlanetSide beta tester non-disclosure agreement has been lifted. Testers, feel free to tell friends, family and neighbors about the game and your experiences.”
Setting aside my frustration with all the crashing (it is a beta after all), I currently hold the same opinion of Planetside that Gertrude Stein had for Los Angeles: “There’s no ‘there’ there.”
They have tweaked the game some in the last couple weeks, but the game still lacks any sense of urgency or accomplishment. You create your character, walk to another building to pick some certifications. You then buy equipment, run out to the vehicle pads to buy a vehicle if needed, then head to the warp gates and some anonymous battle. You can also take the shuttle and drop into any spot from orbit, but the shuttles only depart every 15 minutes now. From spawning to any useful fighting takes at least five minutes, more like 10. Get killed and you are looking at another five minutes unless your team holds the proper equipment facilities nearby. Even if they do, it just cuts down on your travel time some.
I haven’t noticed much ebb and flow to the battles. Usually one team has the good fortune to have more soldiers and weaponry in one place, and they push out the other team. Very little strategy, just a big meatgrinder.
Once you take a base, your team must keep it powered up by periodically running energy trucks to it. So, even if you have managed to pry a base or a continent away from another team, you won’t hold it by morning unless your team takes the time to babysit it. Throw in stealthsuit-wearing hackers cruising around in your territory, and garrison duty becomes a necessary evil. They expect FPS fans to play a slow, low-action game?
Graphically, it looks very much like Tribes2. Less vertical, since there are no jetpacks.
Finally, the lack of locational damage bothers me, especially when sniping. It seems very dated to not have it. Even if there is some bandwidth or game balance reason to leave it out, it has become such a standard feature of FPS games that its absence seems like a failing.