Here is a review for Beyond Protocol from Erhan Altay of MMOHut.
Beyond Protocol Review
Beyond Protocol was developed and is hosted by the independent game company Dark Sky Entertainment. First released back in November of 2008, the Beyond Protocol is the first truly persistent MMORTS. Real Time Strategy games have been an important part of the PC gaming scene since Total Annihilation and it is a treat to finally see a fully fledged RTS make the MMO leap. The merger doesn’t come without costs, Beyond Protocol is not a free game but it does offer an open ended free trial with no time limit.
When players first sign up for Beyond Protocol their account status is set to ‘trial’ which allows them to access the game and try it out at their own pace in the trial star system of Aurelium. Each account can only have a single character and there is only one server in the Beyond Protocol universe. The only customization options available during initial set up are player name, empire name, and the ability to design your own icon. There are three sets of sliders, one for ‘front’, ‘middle’ and ‘back. The varied images and colors allow for interesting styles, I spent a few minutes just tinkering with this feature. After logging in for the first time, new players are presented with a tutorial. It moves at a brisk pace and covers basics such as selecting units, constructing buildings, troop movement, an explanation of the basic interface menus, and finally combat. The whole experience is narrated by a woman with a British accent who speaks at a brisk rate. The voice acting is a nice touch and keeps an otherwise uneventful tutorial interesting.
Into the Void
After the tutorial the game throws you into the trial star system with little in the way of direction or purpose. It’s easy to be overwhelmed at this point and lose focus. Players can switch between several views, the first of which shows the currently selected planet’s surface. The second view shows the region of space just outside the planet’s atmosphere while the third shows the general area of space around the planet. Next is the view of the entire star system displayed in a more or less flat plane. The Aurelium system has around 30 planets but is not considered part of the ‘live’ game since it is disconnected from the rest of the universe. Players on Aurelium cannot interact with those who have left and vice versa. The only exception to this is the general chat box which allows server wide communication. While switching between these views, it is very easy to lose track of where exactly your colony is. If this occurs, remember that you can always zoom right to your base by hitting the ‘home’ key on the keyboard.
A Lone Engineer
Your colonization efforts start on a single planet with a single engineer unit. Luckily, the game provides new players with a ton of free credits and the ability to instantly construct structures and units with those credits. The game advises players to put these free, insta-build credits to the most efficient use but I doubt new players will be ever to grasp what that is. Instead, I recommend players simply move their engineer to a relatively undeveloped corner of the world (you’ll share this planet with many other players) and start building. The planet’s terrain will look mountainous at first but don’t be fooled — this doesn’t mean you can’t build there, only that it hasn’t yet been built on. I built my first few buildings near another players city since I assumed the mountainous areas were off limits. Only later did I learn that the rough terrain automatically turns into smooth green turf after it is built on. Players can open the help menu by clicking one of the many purple exclamation marks that pile up on the left hand side and read through the text to try to understand Beyond Protocol. Prospective players should be warned that this is not a simple RTS based on ‘twitch.’ Strategy and patience are the two most important traits here.
A Big Universe
The gameplay in Beyond Protocol is as complex as the game’s universe is massive. More and more star systems are added to the game as the population increases but sadly free trial players won’t get a chance to experience any of this unless they’re willing to upgrade to a ‘standard’ account for $19.99 or a ‘premium’ account for $49.99. But even with trial restrictions, Beyond Protocol is not an easy game to learn. Sci-Fi games generally have a high learning curve and while BP is not as complicated as Eve Online, it makes Shattered Galaxy look simple. Buildings require energy which is provided by Power Generations, power generators can be manually re-designed to provide additional energy but doing this involves using the research center and designing a custom hull. Players are free to design and save custom engine, hull, weapon, and other templates than use them on their buildings and units. Mines are used to purchase minerals, trading posts allow players to exchange resources with one another and space ports allow the construction of flying units like fighters. Combat in Beyond Protocol is intentionally slow paced to promote tactics over fast reflexes. All units have several health bars and different rates of armor on their front, sides, and back.
In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream
Beyond Protocol hasn’t established a large player base yet but the game is still relatively new. The chat channel is generally empty but this may be because players are more interested in playing rather than chatting. Another explanation is the large foreign population. Besides general chat, there is a French chat channel. The few players who are active in general chat are very helpful and will be your best source of information when trying to get a handle on the game. Don’t hesitate to ask for help since GMs often read the chat box. The game’s visuals are pretty basic, there’s little eye candy when you’re at a normal zoom setting but zooming in does change things considerably. It is only when players zoom in to an unplayable amount that the three dimensional aspects of the game standout. The music is your standard fare of techno/futuristic sounding beats that get the job done.
Final Verdict: Fair
Beyond Protocol has an interesting concept and manages to put it all together pretty well. Unfortunately, the package that it is delivered in is rough around the edges. Uninspiring graphics, a complicated interface, and slow paced gameplay make Beyond Protocol a difficult game to penetrate.
- Source -