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Free for All: Planet Cyrene adds to the high-stakes worlds of Entropia


I'm not much of a shooter fan and probably never will be. Sure, I have as much fun blasting my way through monsters as the next gamer, but I rarely have the patience or physical stamina to overcome the pains and frustrations of shooter PvP. After all, my first rule of PvP applies especially well to shooters: There is always someone better than you. Planet Cyrene, the new world being added to the impressive portfolio of Entropia Universe, tasks players tasks similar to those found in Planet Calypso and mixes in PvP arenas that promise to frustrate (or delight) players, depending on their skill level. I sat down with Ed Robles III, lead developer for Planet Cyrene, to see just how nasty and expensive things might get.

Remember, this is the Entropia Universe we are talking about, and that means players will spend real money on bullets, armor, and practically everything else. Fortunately, players can earn items that are worth real money as well. Call it gambling or whatever you want, but it still seems to be a pretty successful formula.

Planet Cyrene screenshot
At first we explored some of the sights and sounds of the gaming world. If you've played Planet Calypso, then you know just how pretty the game can be. Of course, beauty has its price. This game might require a beefy machine to run it smoothly. I played it on my older gaming machine on higher-ish settings and didn't have much of a problem, but performance was sluggish. It's best to keep the settings high when working through PvE content and turn them down if needed during the all-important PvP matches.

I was shown some of the cool vehicles and weapon types, including a flamethrower that looked cool but seemed largely useless. I stuck with my beam weapon but instinctively fired carefully. I was used to the fact that bullets could cost real money in Planet Calypso, and old habits die hard. Enemies seemed pretty smart, and animations were tight. If I got too close, I might receive a quick kick to my midsection. Although my time with the game was during a "soft launch," meaning that enemies and creatures were tuned down a bit and more were to be added later, I still felt challenged.

We even explored some sort of space-wasp area chock-full of pulsating membrane nests. I was informed that if players did not perform certain local quests to keep the creature populations under control, they would swell up and promise to become much more than a headache. It was nice to see some dynamic content within a game where I would normally expect none. As we have seen with games like RIFT, however, promises of dynamic content are rarely fulfilled to the point many players would like. I'd need more time to test the system in game.

Planet Cyrene screenshot
As much as I would have liked to be left alone to explore the beautiful and expansive PvE world, we moved inside the lobby area for PvP matches. Essentially, players can pay for entry into each arena, starting at about a few cents for the lowest match and almost a dollar for the highest. Why would players want to pay just to enter? Well, if I had actually succeeded in killing some enemy players (actually, I killed one or two), I would have been rewarded with a payout that equaled real-life cash. Remember, this is the Entropia series of games. If you had an issue with the system before, then you will still have an issue with it. But I see no problem at all with the fact that Entropia has been challenging players to "gamble" in game by giving the potential to score that big payout kill, and in fact, the success of the game shows that many players feel the same way.

"You know the type of player I am talking about: She has learned the hot-keys better than anyone on the planet and can move in ways that seem not only unrealistic but goofy. I felt like laughing as she faced me, jumped back and forth, and then shot me directly where it counted."

My main beef comes from the seeming lack of balance in the arenas. Sure, I volunteered to step into the lowest-level arena but was quickly killed over and over again by a player who, upon inspection, has the stats to show that she not only had been at the game for much longer but was also much more skilled than I, the brand-new player, was. You know the type of player I am talking about: She has learned the hot-keys better than anyone on the planet and can move in ways that seem not only unrealistic but goofy. I felt like laughing as she faced me, jumped back and forth, and then shot me directly where it counted. More than likely, the player just spends a ton of time in the title, wrist braces tight and eyes red, scoring hit after hit after hit because the game allowed her to play with people who had just stepped into the world. I don't really feel like challenging myself with besting someone who can kill me with the precision of a robot (and no, that's not an accusation) when I'd rather be out in the open world exploring and shooting space-wasps. It should be noted that all players were stripped of any previous weapon loadouts and all were given the same armor, health, and weapons before stepping into the arena to help with balance.

Luckily, Planet Cyrene allows for PvE and PvP. Honestly, if I were to play the title much, I would spend all of just a few moments in the arenas. I just don't see the point, but I can understand how some players might. I'll be outside in the simulated sun if you don't mind.

It looks like the Entropia Universe has another fun title to add to its roster. It's a pretty game that offers the all-in-one experience that an Entropia account can. Throw in a few bucks and you'll be on your way to killing space-wasps in no time, or jump in the arena and became the victim of the best damn PvPer this side of the cosmos. If you're lucky, you might just score a win.

Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to!

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