Fallen Earth Review

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Fall­en Earth

Gamers First’s Fall­en Earth became free-to-play this week­end.  I have enjoyed a num­ber of for­ays into post-apoc­a­lyp­tic land­scapes (Fall­out 3, Fall­out New Vegas, Rage; even Left 4 Dead is, in some respect post-apoc­a­lyp­tic); so I expect­ed to enjoy Fall­en Earth.  Also, hav­ing played Eve Online, I was cau­tious of the time-suck abil­i­ty that MMO’s could become — although this lat­ter point didn’t bear fruit in Fall­en Earth’s case.

Even if it’s not imme­di­ate­ly appar­ent, I play fair num­ber of dif­fer­ent video games; most­ly of the first or third per­son genre.  There are a few con­ven­tions to this genre.  WASD (the ‘w’ key moves for­ward, ‘a’ and ‘s’ move left and right and ‘d’ backs up) is a core con­ven­tion.  What isn’t men­tioned by the it’s name (WASD) is that the 2nd part of this con­ven­tion is the mouse: the mouse con­trols where you’re look­ing and in that man­ner con­trols where you are run­ning and shoot­ing as well as the look­ing.

Fall­en Earth breaks this fun­da­men­tal con­tract by pro­vid­ing a com­plex modal inter­face where the play­er char­ac­ter moves entire­ly with the key­board (using the ‘q’ and ‘e’ keys to turn) and then changes mode to “com­bat” mode where­by mouselook is mys­te­ri­ous­ly enabled.  This inter­face is dou­bly con­fus­ing when you get stuck (as I did) in com­bat mode with pop­up win­dows in the way of your field of view and dou­bly annoy­ing when that win­dow is a nag screen to upgrade to the pay-per-month ser­vice.  In fact the nag­ging nev­er real­ly goes away: an “upgrade” but­ton was in my cen­ter low field of view con­stant­ly and I nev­er found a way to be rid of it.

I also got stuck in the tuto­r­i­al (and had to restart).  I’m fair­ly used to the first-per­son RPG genre and one of it’s core val­ues is reward­ing explo­ration (“you must look at all my won­der­ful tex­tures,” says the game design­er).  I was jump­ing and run­ning around in the tuto­r­i­al sec­tion even though there was sup­pos­ed­ly some urgency of some­thing going to hap­pen; it was per­fect­ly clear to me that the stan­dard “noth­ing hap­pens until you move for­ward in the map” was ful­ly in effect.  Any­ways… I was look­ing on top of some ledge when I got com­plete­ly stuck: I could not move in any direc­tion.

After get­ting igno­min­ious­ly stuck, I decid­ed not to explore any more and fin­ish the tuto­r­i­al cam­paign.  I real­ized as I made this deci­sion that every­thing looked rather Doom-2-ish in graph­i­cal qual­i­ty.  Once I had made the deci­sion that I wasn’t hav­ing fun explor­ing the envi­ron­ment, I start­ed to crit­i­cize the envi­ron­ment in my mind.  This break in the immer­sion is not a good thing.  It was at this point that I real­ized that the funky con­trol scheme was of the same era as the old-skule graph­ics.

Plow­ing on direct­ly to the end of the tuto­r­i­al sec­tion, I was intro­duced to the non-death mechan­ic (you die at the end of the tuto­r­i­al and you are “reborn” because you are a clone with a clone-mind-sync-col­lar — not unlike the “the­o­ry” by which you are reborn in Eve Online).  While sav­ing the Hoover Dam is cool, forced sac­ri­ficed death after 10 min­utes of play is a bit of a down­er.

At the end of the tuto­r­i­al, and this is a mild SPOILER, you sac­ri­fice your­self after a short dri­ving sec­tion and die.  The dri­ving is hor­rid.  I couldn’t fig­ure out how to look up … I spend the whole time look­ing down at the nearfield and luck­i­ly, there were curbs to keep me dri­ving in the right direc­tion.  It’s con­sid­er­ate that the game expos­es all of it’s extreme­ly bad con­trol schemes with­in the tuto­r­i­al so that you know what you’re in for.

At this point, I’ll admit that I was dis­in­ter­est­ed enough to stop, but I lis­tened to the end-of-tuto­r­i­al cut scene and chose which hub I would start with.  The hub choic­es were cou­pled with dif­fer­ent fight­ing styles and I choose the com­bi­na­tion of pis­tol and rifle.  This choice imme­di­ate­ly trans­port­ed me to an area with shops, quest givers and oth­er play­er char­ac­ters.

Since I didn’t have any appetite for quest­ing, I sim­ply ven­tured out of the “safe zone” into the world.  This was the biggest dis­ap­point­ment of all.  I real­ize that, to reach the widest pos­si­ble audi­ence, MMO’s have to have graph­ics set­tings for the low­est com­mon denom­i­na­tor avail­able, but in this case, on a rel­a­tive­ly pow­er­ful rig, the graph­ics were the great­est dis­ap­point­ment.

The draw dis­tance was such that I could only see a few build­ings around me and a chunk of bro­ken express­way that was fea­tured in the trail­er.  That chunk of bro­ken express­way seemed to repeat quite a bit.  I sup­pose some ele­vat­ed express­way wasn’t com­plete­ly out-of-place in Fall­out 3 (as it’s set around Wash­ing­ton D.C.) and sim­i­lar­ly in New Vegas; but car­ry­ing on to Rage’s unknown loca­tion with ele­vat­ed express­ways run­ning between Buttes in a Wile E. Coy­ote land­scape, I just can’t take it here.  There are a num­ber of ele­vat­ed express­ways in the U.S., but the type pic­tured — 4+ sto­ry high sin­gle post express­ways arn’t that com­mon… espe­cial­ly in the mid­dle-of-nowhere that you spawn.

Maybe that last gripe is too much, but the draw dis­tance and hor­rid graph­i­cal qual­i­ty com­bined with the lack of a sen­si­ble con­trol scheme just turned me off.  You can add to that a pletho­ra of spe­cial abil­i­ties that imme­di­ate­ly grant­ed for which only one is explained (heal­ing some­one else, not your­self) and a basic yet con­fus­ing inter­face.

I couldn’t play on.  Maybe this game gets more com­pelling as you con­tin­ue.  I cer­tain­ly played 100’s of hours of Eve Online.  Eve cer­tain­ly doesn’t have a rep­u­ta­tion as a game that cod­dles play­ers.  I think the real show-stop­per was the graph­ics.  When I think about it, the urge to explore a world is based on what you will see.  Fall­en Earth left very lit­tle to see.  Maybe even one moment like emerg­ing from the vault (either Fall­out or RAGE) would make it inter­est­ing to press on.  Maybe I’m just not inter­est­ed in pre-2000’s graph­ics any more.  I’ll leave you with an image that shows the dread­ful graph­ic qual­i­ty and amaz­ing lack of draw dis­tance … and the rel­a­tive com­plex­i­ty of the inter­face giv­en to the first-time play­er.

I’d give this one a pass even though it’s free.

Fallen Earth Interface Example

Fall­en Earth Inter­face Exam­ple: Note Lack of Draw Dis­tance

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4 Responses to Fallen Earth Review

  1. FEReview says:

    This is my review of a game called Fall­en Earth

    Fall­en Earth is now run by a com­pa­ny called K2 Net­works Inc.
    and are also know by the name Gamers­First

    K2 Net­works Inc.
    14252 Cul­ver Dri­ve Suite A-355
    Irvine, CA
    USA, 92604
    Phone #1: 949–870-3100
    Phone #2: 949–486-0400
    Fax #: 949–486-0399
    Web­site #1: http://www.k2network.net
    Web­site #2: http://www.gamersfirst.com/

    If you look at the BBB page about K2 Net­works they have had mul­ti­ple
    com­plaints over the past while and yet still main­tain an A+ rat­ing.

    http://www.la.bbb.org/business-reviews/Online-Gaming-Websites/K2-Network-in-Irvine-CA-100018034

    That is because the Bet­ter Busi­ness Buearu takes mon­ey for bet­ter rat­ings
    and has obvi­ous­ly been paid off and the A+ rat­ing that you are see­ing here
    is a bought rat­ing so don’t believe the rat­ing that you see on the BBB web­site
    about these guys.

    The Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau rat­ings are mis­lead­ing at best and mis­rep­re­sent the
    true rat­ing of a com­pa­ny. If you file a com­plaint with them they will close
    off the com­plaint and do noth­ing to help you and if you ques­tion them about
    the rat­ing they will just give you a bunch of garbage about how the rat­ing
    sys­tem is a com­plex sys­tem.

    This was cov­ered by ABC’s 20/20

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/business-bureau-best-ratings-money-buy/story?id=12123843#.T2DGVXlDQ_Q

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNlwHf7NTKE

    So you are prob­a­bly ask­ing why I am telling you to avoid the online game
    Fall­en Earth. Basi­cal­ly the game is lag­gy as hell most of the time
    it is quite unplayable. Also a thing occurs that is called “rub­ber band­ing”
    where you will walk for­ward 2 steps and then get pulled back to your orginal
    posi­tion again due to all the lag. There are fre­quent out­ages and serv­er crash­es
    and log in issues with not being able to log in. 

    The servers have been like this for months now and noth­ing is get­ting bet­ter
    recent­ly they intro­duced this on the steam net­work and ever since then it
    has got­ten 10 times worse. 

    If you com­plain about the prob­lem to the staff noth­ing gets done about
    the prob­lem. The Game Mas­ters (GMs) in the game are rude and igno­rant
    towards the play­ers and their cus­tomer ser­vice in game or if you
    open up a tick­et is hor­ri­ble.

    Basi­cal­ly in game every time you log into the game if you are a free mem­ber
    a large logo comes up telling you sub­scribe to the game. Which I did because
    I got sick of see­ing this come up every time and open­ing up a web brows­er
    win­dow every time try­ing to get you to sub­cribe then when you do sub­scribe
    to the game you can’t even play the game because of all the tech­ni­cal prob­lems
    with their serv­er and soft­ware.

    Over all the game is extreme­ly bug­gy even in game as well with lots of glitch­es
    and prob­lems. The serv­er I am play­ing on is NOT a test serv­er this is the full
    pro­duc­tion serv­er and there are this many prob­lems.

    There are fre­quent dis­con­nects and the serv­er is extreme­ly lag­gy!

    Now I have asked to be com­pen­sat­ed for all of the out­ages and lag
    and extreme­ly hor­ri­bly play and noth­ing has been done up to this
    day to com­pen­sate me since I am a pay­ing cus­tomer and have a commander’s
    lev­el sub­scrip­tion which costs an out­ragous $29.00 a month. You can go play
    a lot of oth­er MMOs for a heck of a lot cheap­er then that. Over all this
    is just yet anoth­er rip off. 

    This is noth­ing more than a mon­ey grab they want you to sub­scribe
    and pester you till you do. And once you get in game if you have to reset
    your AP you have to buy that from the cash shop with real mon­ey.

    This is noth­ing more than a mon­ey grab by this com­pa­ny and they are doing a
    hor­ri­ble job at run­ning the game and expect peo­ple to pay for this crap!
    Even once you are a sub­scriber you get very lit­tle and still have to pay
    for reset injec­tors (reset your AP) if you screw up and put the points into
    the wrong loca­tion. THis should be 100% free if you are a sub­scriber.

    http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/post/4700334#4700334

    Here are a few exam­ples of the prob­lems in Fall­en Earth these were not post­ed
    by me but oth­er play­ers com­plain­ing of all the same prob­lems.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QmOeViMsG4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GY06ZFOuYm4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ua_JiDwYKjM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNVP1BBBEp4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJe02bhbp2E

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xvo_RaniGI0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdynvYuh-Ds

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpbt6ZagOg4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOib89x0pgc

    http://www.dual-boxing.com/threads/24632-Fallen-Earth-My-impressions

    This game has already failed once before when it was under con­trol of
    Icarus Stu­dios and it looks like K2 Net­works Inc. is not doing any bet­ter
    of a job at run­ning the game. 

    April 30 2010
    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/100379-UPDATE-Fallen-Earth-Developer-Icarus-Studios-Closes-Up-Shop

    Bot­tom line is if you are think­ing about sign­ing up for an account on
    Fall­en Earth don’t both­er the game is hor­ri­ble and extreme­ly glitchy and
    very lit­tle if any­thing is actu­al­ly being done to fix it.

    Avoid Fall­en Earth it isn’t even worth your time or trou­ble and all of the
    poor game play and poor cus­tomer ser­vice that you will receive.

    • dgilbert says:

      All I can real­ly say is “wow.” You real­ly must have a bug up your ass to go post­ing that entire review on someone’s blog (that already had a neg­a­tive review) as a com­ment. The thing that real­ly strikes me is that you’d go to the LA BBB to com­plain about a game com­pa­ny. In this inter­net age, that just seems to be an anachro­nism.

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  3. Markus says:

    (1) “the ‘w’ key moves for­ward, ‘a’ and ‘s’ move left and right and ‘d’ backs up” — Wrong. ‘d’ moves right and ‘s’ moves back

    (2) “Fall­en Earth breaks this fun­da­men­tal con­tract by pro­vid­ing a com­plex modal inter­face where the play­er char­ac­ter moves entire­ly with the key­board (using the ‘q’ and ‘e’ keys to turn) and then changes mode to “com­bat” mode where­by mouselook is mys­te­ri­ous­ly enabled. This inter­face is dou­bly con­fus­ing when you get stuck (as I did) in com­bat mode with pop­up win­dows in the way of your field of view and dou­bly annoy­ing when that win­dow is a nag screen to upgrade to the pay-per-month ser­vice.” — Wrong, it changes modes like neocron does, you have one nor­mal mode for play­ing (called com­bat mode with per­mant mouse aim­ing) and some more RP Like mode where you can move your mouse freely to con­trol the UI and stuff, tar­get char­ac­ters (not aim­ing, more like in wow where you have a tar­get UI-win­dow). BUT in UI mode you can hold down right mouse but­ton to acti­vate mou­se­view­ing and con­trol your move­ment with your mouse like in com­bat mode. You will nev­er get stuck in either mode, just hit TAB. You can move and/or close almost every UI ele­ment when in UI mode.

    (3) “I was look­ing on top of some ledge when I got com­plete­ly stuck: I could not move in any direc­tion.” — hap­pens even in the best games, you do not have to delete your char­ac­ter when get­ting stuck, there is an unstuck­er in your abil­i­ties.

    (4) “While sav­ing the Hoover Dam is cool, forced sac­ri­ficed death after 10 min­utes of play is a bit of a down­er.” — I did­nt see it as a down­er, in fact i think you were just pissed at the game at that moment. It’s just part of the sto­ry, it’s not like forced kill by ene­mies with a death penal­ty, it was just a way to bring you from the tuto­r­i­al into the present time with a nice cutscene. Also, it tells you “don’t wor­ry if you die”, which is some­thing i think more Games shoudl tell their play­ers (i’m espe­cial­ly think­ing of WoW, where kids are rag­ing when the group dies once).

    (5) “The dri­ving is hor­rid. I couldn’t fig­ure out how to look up … I spend the whole time look­ing down at the nearfield and luck­i­ly, there were curbs to keep me dri­ving in the right direc­tion. It’s con­sid­er­ate that the game expos­es all of it’s extreme­ly bad con­trol schemes with­in the tuto­r­i­al so that you know what you’re in for.” — Again you seem to not even have tried to fig­ure out the con­trol, i did­nt real­ly think about it, i just drove it into the vault with the key­board (like in gta). I can’t remem­ber any fps game with cars that ever had oth­er con­trols per default.

    (6) “At this point, I’ll admit that I was dis­in­ter­est­ed enough to stop” — i think you should have read more of the tuto­ri­als text.

    (7) “I real­ize that, to reach the widest pos­si­ble audi­ence, MMO’s have to have graph­ics set­tings for the low­est com­mon denom­i­na­tor avail­able, but in this case, on a rel­a­tive­ly pow­er­ful rig, the graph­ics were the great­est dis­ap­point­ment.” umh, you can change graph­ics set­tings, they are not like cri­sis, but for an rpg they are more than ok.

    (8) “The draw dis­tance was such that I could only see a few build­ings around me and a chunk of bro­ken express­way that was fea­tured in the trail­er.” — you can change that in the set­tings, also. On the oth­er hand, i did­nt notice the view dis­tance was too short by default. Maybe you just have a crap­py machine? The game decides on opti­mal graph­ics set­tings based on your machines pow­er when first start­ing up.

    (9) “You can add to that a pletho­ra of spe­cial abil­i­ties that imme­di­ate­ly grant­ed for which only one is explained (heal­ing some­one else, not your­self) and a basic yet con­fus­ing inter­face.” — Wrong. The abil­i­ties have been explained per­fect­ly, also the Heal­ing abil­i­ty is not just for oth­ers, you can heal your­self, too (just tar­get your­self and use heal­ing abil­i­ties). In the tuto­r­i­al you have to use it on some npc, that does­nt mean it’s only for npcs. READ more, espe­cial­ly before writ­ing reviews.

    (10) “Maybe this game gets more com­pelling as you con­tin­ue. ” — it gets more com­pelling as you try to fig­ure it out. Like any oth­er game.

    (11) “Fall­en Earth Inter­face Exam­ple: Note Lack of Draw Dis­tance” — What lack of draw dis­tance? You can see the whole town?

    All in all i real­ly don’t like your review. It felt like some­one rag­ing about a game that he did­nt mas­ter in every aspect from the begin­ning. We have some kind of metaphor (or such) for that: Buy­ing a book (and read­ing the back of it) just does­nt cut it, you have to read the book itself to know what’s inside. In my opin­ion the game is com­plete­ly ok, it is not real­ly as good as more mod­ern games, but for being free and post apoc­a­lyp­tic (and old) this game is quite good, actu­al­ly. I also real­ly like the con­trols, i was look­ing for some­thing like that (reminds me of neocron).

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