EverQuest II


posted 1/7/2005 by Randy Kalista
other articles by Randy Kalista
One Page Platforms: PC
When you view a painting by Van Gogh, you don’t compare it to another painting by Van Gogh—you compare it to every other painting in the world.

I will not compare the achievements and failings of EverQuest II to the first EverQuest. As the formula for massively-multiplayer online games reaches new levels, EQ2 must stand on its own merits. While there are some individual refinements, some interspersed high points, this product still sticks players with the same ol’ grind that gives many MMOs a bad name. The extensive hours invested that produce little reward comes off like a phone sex operator: just keeping you on the line as long as possible to milk this gaming cash cow.

What’s lacking in ingenuity is made up for in variety. At least as far as character creation goes. Character customization plays a vital function for many role-players. Although, with thousands of people logged on at any given time, individuality is hard to come by in an MMO. Most games’ races are typically sparse (some even unisex) and come with only a half dozen variable features to customize. Not so in EverQuest II. Sixteen races are immediately presented (minus one; the Frogloks are initially unavailable) with male and female variants for all.

The irrevocably good races are all here: dwarves, halflings, high elves, and wood elves. The brazenly evil are present as well: dark elves, the reptilian iksar, ogres, trolls, and introducing the rodent-like ratonga. Then, given the option to sway either direction: barbarians, erudites, gnomes, half-elves, humans, and the feline-featured kerrans. The alignment you choose—there is only black and white to side with—will determine which of the two cities you begin in. As denoted, some races are forced into their alignment. You can’t be a big friendly troll in the City of Hope without undergoing a long and arduous traitor mission later in the game.

You may create and maintain up to four characters on your account. Each has a healthy dosage of facial and bodily features to customize, but these create only vaguely noticeable differentiation. Thankfully, a satisfying degree of individuality is sparked by the vast selection of hairstyles and colors, skin tones, and other accessories. Many of these visual options are pretty damn cool and you will find yourself wringing your hands over which features to finally decide upon. The men range from demonic to debonair, and the females look from nightmarish to prom-picture-perfect (even if they decide to go Sinead with their bald selves.) Strangely, however, they all look victimized by an overdose of Botox injections; there is only a vague notion of liveliness beneath their plastique features.
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