Tuesday, January 26, 2010
BigPoint's "Dark Orbit" Review: My first try at one of the new "free" MMOs
I really wanted to like this game. It's a good try. It even held my attention for about a week, but in the end it's just badly designed.
I'm not going to get into the difficulties I had signing up and the poorly designed and programmed BigPoint.com home site beyond saying, "don't bother trying". Just log in through SyFy.com's gaming center.
I will take a moment to say that they've recently "upgraded" the client. The game graphics are MUCH slicker and the client itself is much less prone to lag, but the "HUD" was designed by a baboon. It's not even a HUD. A hud is supposed to be transparent so I can see the information without obscuring my view of the road, right? I mean look at that mess! It's almost impossible to click on the screen without accidentally hitting a control.
Why do so many idiots get jobs redesigning perfectly good GUIs?
Anyway... Let's talk about game play.
Free players are not going to enjoy the game. If you want to have any fun at all you'll need to drop some bucks. You need to use real money to buy "Uridium" for good equipment or you're just cannon fodder for the PKers. All told for enough equipment for a good, survivable ship you'll need at least 150,000 uridium. In real money that's about $60.00 US.
It's theoretically possible to grind up enough uridium in-game to compete, but not practically (unless you have no life at all and are willing to be bored out of your wits for several months).
The game isn't really that interesting. You gather resources. Some appear as random pickups, but mostly you accumulate them by killing aliens and salvaging the materials from the wreckage. After 20 or so hours this gets a little dry.
The big problem you're going to run into are the PKers (Pkers, or Player Killers, are players who play the game mainly to kill other players). In most MMOs there are safe areas. Nearly all games allow newbies "haven" zones where they can learn the game basics and "grind" a few levels, and most allow for the simple reality that not everyone likes PVP (Player vs. Player). This game has no safe areas at all. It's very frustrating getting killed over and over and over. Be prepared to be PK'd 2 or 3 times a day. If that doesn't sound like fun... well... it's not. In all fairness the point of the game is to make money. Getting PK'd 2 or 3 times a day will either drive you away or get you to dig into your wallet. Frankly, the folks at BigPoint don't care which. The whole point of allowing free players into the game is to give easy kills to the premium players.
Cough up a hundred bucks, buy a goliath, fill it with the best drives, weapons, shields, and "boosters" and you may have some fun. Spend another hundred bucks and add a squadron or two of battle drones and you can run with the big dawgs. Lastly, be prepared to cough up 5 bucks every now and then when you run out of money. The problem, of course, is that the game isn't worth that much money.