Birmingham's Omega Sektor sees World's first playtestLast week, I attended the Codemasters Connect 08 event in Birmingham where, amongst other things, I had the opportunity to be among the first people to play NetDevil’s upcoming space-based MMORPG, Jumpgate Evolution.
Due for release in Winter 2008, Jumpgate Evolution was presented in pre-alpha form at the event, so there are still plenty of features to be added and tweaks to be made before the final cut. The initial presentation with NetDevil president, Scott Brown, described the game as being fun and accessible, with comparisons being made to the likes of X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter. With the promise of plenty of action and large scale battles across the company’s colourful vision of outer-space, I promptly jumped into the pilot’s seat, declined the offer to play the game with the Saitek ST290 Pro joystick and instead plumped for the conventional keyboard and mouse combo as I docked into the graphically-impressive Bleakstone station and set off on my first mission on the hunt for a pirate outpost.
Throughout the 30 minutes or so hands-on time it was apparent that so far Jumpgate Evolution lacks any storyline. I’m so used to seeing games bolstered by a narrative that it initially seemed a little strange to get to the end of a major mission only to be sent out immediately on the next one without knowing the real purpose of why I was carrying it out in the first place. However, after quizzing the NetDevil team, it appears that this was deliberate as they don't want to reveal the story-line too soon. I was assured that Jumpgate will feature a ‘deep’ storyline,despite the action being the game's main focus.
In Jumpgate Evolution the action involves controlling space-craft as you fly across the cosmos taking part in a multitude of quests including delivery missions, fetch quests and scouting and combat objectives. It also involves exploring the expansive universe, trading in valuable commodities and meeting up with like-minded pirates as you aim to become a hero of the universe. Like any MMO you get the option to choose a race and class before the game begins and by earning money and completing quests you’re able to buy new ships and purchase upgrades to improve existing vehicles.