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Joystiq eyes-on: Jumpgate Evolution (PC)

Majed Athab

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Sci-fi fans who love the idea of galactic war and space-age dogfighting will want to have a look at NetDevil's Jumpgate Evolution. In this Massively Multiplayer Online game, players take command of their very own fully-customizable spacecraft in a war against a mysterious alien enemy. The developers describe the game as an MMO version of Wing Commander with the intensity of Battlestar Galactica's fast-paced fighter battles.

This war not only has to have grand action, but also has to be set on an equally grand stage. And in that, we can attest that Jumpgate fulfills those duties very well. The artistic direction will be the very first thing that will grab one's attention upon sitting down with Jumpgate. The diverse locales we've been shown are all very colorfully vibrant and lively; there's rarely a spot that's dull or fails to dazzle. Open space is accentuated with swirls of thematic nebulas, while cruising along the backdrop of beautifully rendered planets is an amazing sight on its own. There are various other places to visit including mining colonies, asteroid fields and debris-filled 'space graveyard.'

Gallery: Jumpgate Evolution | 27 Photos

Connecting these different sectors of the universe are, you guessed it, jumpgates. These are massive energy spheres located within an area which can be entered and accessed to travel to other places. Jumpgates have fixed connection points, meaning that entering a specific jumpgate will yield the same exit point every time; jumpgates don't just jump to any spot across the galaxy. To better demonstrate this, we were shown an in-game map that displayed the different locations. A line drawn between two different locations signified that a jumpgate connected them together. This is important to note as specific locations along certain trails will be designated for either PVE or PVP play. Everything is going to be all on one server.

One of the niftiest things about the game is its ship customization features. Players can buy new or barter old parts for better equipment. They can also create them out of items they've collected. Ship upgrades are handled at designated stations/cities throughout the game. Weapons, engines, shields and other parts can all be manipulated. Energy acts as a strategic limiter for all ships; each part of the ship uses a specific amount of energy and if the ship is drained of all its energy capacity, it won't fly. This ensures that ships can't equip too many high-maintenance/high-performance parts.

While there are no classes in Jumpgate, there are different ship types to choose from. Different ships have different capacities from how many weapons they can carry to how many shield upgrades they can equip at once. The reason why there are no classes is that the developers don't want players to be stuck in any one role as something like a tank or a healer. Instead, they opted to make ships highly customizable so that they can fit any situation; players can equip a set-up specifically for heavy damage and then switch out their equipment quickly (using a pre-saved configuration) to something defensive or support-oriented.

The last thing we'd like to mention before we wrap this up is that the game also features joystick and triple-screen support. We've seen the joystick in action, even played a bit of the game with it, and it feels like a space fighter should. We unfortunately didn't get to see the three-screen display, but with the stunning graphics we've seen thus far, we most definitely think it would be quite a thrilling experience.

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