PlanetSide 2 touts itself as a "massively multi-player online first person shooter" with "persistent worlds" and "ongoing battles." All of this is true. It is mostly free to play, although you can buy upgrades (or earn them at a snail's pace in game). The maps are huge, and can have multiple battles taking place simultaneously at various strategic points. It is frenetic, and confusing to the beginner, with a variety of classes and capabilities from "lone sniper" to "armored heavy infantry."
Try as I might, I can't really enjoy this game.
In This War, There Are No Winners
PlanetSide 2 battles can last for hours. Secure an enemy outpost, and the battle may move up the hill to a power generation station. If your side stalls, or enough people have to log off to go to work/school/real life, you can find yourself falling back to that recently captured outpost and putting in effort to hold it. The battle may turn on simple numbers, or a skilled pilot may come to your aid and route the enemy forces from the air. Multiply this by many, many hours, and you have some sense of what is going on. You spawn. You fight. You die. You re-spawn. A lot.
No Heroes / No Villains
The biggest draw that PlanetSide 2 claims is the MMO aspect. Hundreds of players can participate simultaneously in action. However, with unlimited revives on the battlefield, and unlimited re-spawns, a never-ending supply of soldiers is always available. The major difference between two well matched sides is how many soldiers of each faction actually have time to stick around an play.
In most of the FPS games I have reviewed here, there are set manpower levels. Combat Arms, America's Army - they have either no re-spawn or a fixed number of available soldiers. Battles begin and end, with clear victors and clear losers. A lone soldier can save the day, making a valiant last stand against an enemy force. A single life can matter.
Not so in PlanetSide 2. Life is cheap, and if you rush into battle and die, you can either be picked up by a medic or re-spawn at a variety of static and mobile positions. You can try crazy, stupid tactics and pay little more than a 30 second penalty. You can spend hours and hours trying crazy, stupid strategies. As long as you kill someone else, you earn points towards your personal arsenal of weapons, armor, and vehicles.
No balancing of sides is attempted, either. If you log into the server and enter a battle where you are outnumbered 10 to 1, you are outnumbered 10 to 1. I guess it sucks to be you. If your battle-mates are all new players with ridiculously underpowered weapons and personal armor, and some guy with a tank from the other side shows up, that's the luck of battle. Deal.
You've Got To Grind, Grind, Grind At That Grindstone....
In the end, I found that skill trees, weapons selections, special abilities, fancy tanks and warplanes didn't matter as much as luck when determining who was winning battles. The game was fun for a while, but the non-stop nature of the battle means you get no rest - no respite. No time to rest on your laurels or deal with a battle's loss. The base you were defending just fell, and now the comm outpost just south of it is in danger. Re-spawn, man, there's enemies coming...
That is probably the first and foremost problem I have with this game. You have no sense of how you are doing in the current fight against your current opponents. There is no sense of closure after a battle. No celebratory "inter round" gloat fest. Just an ongoing fight with no end.
The graphics are pretty good, server lag was acceptable, and the game is well done for what it is. I just don't enjoy it.
Of course, it IS free....