Reviewed: February 21, 2005
Released: November 4, 2004
Also runs on Mac OS X and Linux
Vendetta Online is a MMORPG set in outer space. This game is online only, as you will be piloting your spacecraft alongside, or against, other online players. You will choose your own path as you pick from military pilot, explorer, merchant, mercenary, pirate, and more. You have the option to choose from three separate factions: two of them being at war, and the third being a mainly neutral guild of merchants and traders. This game is completely open-ended with lots of career paths, and several quest options.
Vendetta Online features:
The game play is very similar to any other MMORPG; as you will be presented with various options to choose from that will invariably decide your reputation and alliance. The main difference here is that this game is set in outer space, so all of your time is spent in your spacecraft. I was fairly disappointed to discover that you could not go off and discover different planets to land on and explore—you are in your spaceship at all times! This is no Star Wars Galaxies.
The beginning also gives you a nice tutorial to help you familiarize yourself with the movement and the menu navigation. I also encountered a few helpful players that, at the very least, responded to some of my chat text, and that is nice to see.
Once you get the hang of it, the spaceship is really simple to maneuver. Joystick support is included, but the mouse and keyboard worked rather well for me. You have your basic movement commands using the WASD keys, and then there are a few more advanced battle tactics to master, such as rolling, but it is all fairly simple to overcome.
The combat here is “twitch based,” but the main thing to point out is that, unlike most flight simulation games, the combat doesn’t feel like traditional dogfights where you are just maneuvering to tail enemy ships; you are focused more on evasion, such as side-strafing and rolling, rather than constantly turning your ship around—and this is a good thing because you have to be constantly moving and dodging, and this makes the combat more fun and intense.
There is a handy little flight assistance flight model that you can use to help to always keep your ship moving in the same direction, or you can turn that option off in order to maintain your speed and momentum; this allows you to move and fire in different directions. The combat frequently boiled down to constant side-strafing and moving backwards, and this made the game feel more like a first person shooter rather than a flight sim.
In combat you will mainly rely on your ability to use your plasma cannons, as missiles are a considerately weaker threat; this helps to make battle more about skill, rather than who is able to launch the most missiles at the other player first. It takes a bit of a learning curves to really get the hang of combat, but it is worth the time because the game does a good job of keeping battles intense and dynamic.
Aside from combat, you can do other things such as: explore, mine asteroids, uncover some useful trade routes, and fight bots—computer controlled ships. The real fun would probably have to come from dealing with other players, however. The tutorial does a nice job of telling you how to chat, and telling you where to find other players.
I was surprised to discover a very lively chat room full of experienced and helpful players—well, not particularly helpful to me since I was a newbie, but they seemed to have active guilds and groups formed. Most of the chat was about the bounty system, a cool system that rewards players for seeking out other characters that have dubious reputations. If you are able to succeed in your bounty hunt, you will be able to score some nice cash rewards, as well as having your name placed in the space station news boards.
One hindrance to the building of a good player community that I found is the fact that you cannot build your own structures or trading empires, and you cannot have more than a single vessel at one time. This seems to really hold the game back from developing strong guilds and communities. It would seem that, the players are there, and the combat is inviting, but the game just does not have enough content to help stabilize and expand the community.
The graphics are the absolute worst part of this game. The ship fire and lighting are well done, and the sun is big, bright, and blinding, like you’d expect—I found myself wanting to fly right into it—not because it was alluring, but because it was the only thing I could see to fly towards because everything is so empty. That’s exactly the point though, it is rather empty—because it’s space—so you can’t be too critical.
I will say that there are lots of asteroid fields and ion fields scattered throughout the galaxy, as well as some crystals here and there, but they are all only decent. The ships, at least the ones I encountered, were all blocky and horrendous, the space stations were even worse. I will admit that they did a solid job of capturing the vast, black, emptiness of space—and they also captured the vast, boring, depressing, loneliness of it too.
The sound here is actually quite nice. While cruising around in my crummy little spaceship, I was surrounding by nothingness, and the only thing to bring me comfort was the beautiful ambiance of space. A slow, melodic, almost hypnotic trance filled my ears, and it really let me feel the vastness, and utter loneliness of space. Suddenly, I encountered an asteroid field filled with giant metal bumblebee looking monsters from the abyss, I load up my plasma cannon and the intense battle music kicks in—and now the scene has shifted, now it has intensified, and this all comes together quite well. I will admit that the sound effects are very dull and blatantly obligatory, and the amount of music is quite lacking in variety.
This games’ future it yet to be determined; there is so much promise at first, but you get the feeling that it just will not deliver. The game comes with a monthly fee, and promises of content updates. All I can say is, the concept is great, but the execution is sorely lacking.
The music in this game was great; it got me into the feel of space. At first, the game seems quite promising; I had high hopes of becoming a space pirate! Unfortunately though, the game succeeds too well in creating the emptiness of space—I want to feel the emptiness of space, not feel like the game is lacking way too much content. I’d wait this one out and see what develops before buying.