There is something amazing about this game that has been clearly overlooked by the gaming community.
I must admit when I first entered the world of EVE, I was awestruck by the sheer amount of customization available to your character's avatar. I was the instantly confused by the 4 hour tutorial the game requires you to endure. I was even more confused after this tutorial, as I was left to myself in what is the largest MMO world currently available in all of video gaming. Make no mistake about it, the world of EVE is huge and frightening. The chat rooms serve as a recruiting forum for thousands of competing player factions. The game's economy, the driving factor behind most if not all of the actions taken by the player, is an amazingly deep and absurdly confusing system that will bankrupt the rookie player if he doesn't find help immediately. Your ship will routinely be attacked by other players seeking to disrupt the different governments present in the game. Racism, economic standing, who your allies and enemies of those allies are, your standing with the established governments, traders, and pirate groups, and who you've killed...all play an intricate part in the way you attack the world of EVE. Anger a player, you may find your picture on a billboard with a bounty on your head, or you may have started an interstellar war between the larger factions in the game, or you may disrupt the economic stability of an entire region of space.
In short, the world of EVE is one of the most malicious, invigorating, and adaptable world available. The creators of the game have gone through great lengths to allow the gamers the ability to fully roleplay in a very capitalistic realm. Actual gameplay - flying your ship to combat raids, organizing pirate hunting parties, mining for minerals to build a battlecruiser for your corporation - takes a backseat to the interactions you have among the more that 30,000 players that can be logged in at any given time, most of whom are totally in character. Some will be racist bigots capable of running slaves across the stars without blinking, others will be self-righteous heroes who will be your best friends in the early parts of the game. Still others will be guiltless pirates, others hired mercenaries seeking the initiate wars, others bounty hunters, others simple traders or ship builders or fighter jocks or fleet admirals...all seeking to make their impact on the overall evolving storylines in the game. Talk is just as important as actual missions in this game.
The actual gameplay in EVE is disturbingly simple but convoluted. You buy a ship. You buy upgrades to the ship. You buy and learn the skills necessary to operate the ship. And it is here that the game's biggest flaw becomes overwhelmingly apparent. EVE is a slow game...a really slow game. To learn skills, you must by the skills off the market and then activate them as the skill you want to learn. Then you wait, and wait, and wait. Skills don't require you to fight, or you to do something. They are all learned over a time period that is established by your character's base statistics you chose when you selected your avatar's race. Some skills may take a month to learn. Others less than an hour. The positive side to all this is that these skills can be set to learn while you are not logged into EVE. Thus, if a skill takes a day to learn, you can activate it, log off, come back the next day and have the skill available to you.
Then there's the issue of space travel. As said before, the world of EVE is monstrous. There are thousands of solar systems in the game, each possessing anywhere between 5 to 12 planets, their moons, asteroid belts and space bases. You can warp between systems instantaneously, but you must travel between warp gates in a given system. This isn't much of a big deal in a 5 system jump. However, some situations may call for you to make a 25 system jump through hostile areas. These trips can take up to 45 minutes while on auto-pilot. Getting up and leaving your ship traveling isn't a feasible option either, as it can and will get attacked by pirates who camp just outside of the warp gates. Thus, you are forced to sit and watch as your ship meanders its way through space. EVE Online is an absolutely incredible achievement in gaming. Players define the way the world evolves, and create a very active, and daunting, environment that takes a while to get used to. If you can put up with the slow speed of the game and are looking for an RPG experience unlike any you've ever imagined, EVE is definitely a game for you.