Review by miyaa

Reviewed: 05/07/05

RPG for those who don't want to travel for half the time they're on

Guild Wars is a very interesting concept amongst the completely too often repetitive world of the MMORPG. Guild Wars takes place in a scenario that you might call a medieval version of Apocalypse Now. You start up developing a character from one of six really basic classes: Warrior, Monk, Ranger, Elementalist, Mesmer, and Necromancer. Ideally, you select two classes: a primary and a secondary class so that you get a nice combination of skills from both classes. And this game is skills based RPG, as the advertisements state. You really can’t do much until you’ve finished developing your secondary class. However, this sets up an interesting game premise.

The game is essentially divided into parts, depending which method you go into. The standard version allows you to develop slowly your character, in a basic story line where for a small part of the game, you run around getting to understand what is going on while learning more about your classes and what they can do. The missions are generally "run and get this" or "help someone else with a problem". They are varied, even in the beginning, and I really like that idea. Eventually, through, you will have to badger the military might to go after a generally mutated race called the Charr who are orc-like creatures with a fanatic Beavis and Butthead like worshiping of fire. That’s where the real story kicks in as these Charr uses elemental weapons of mass destruction to destroy your home of Ascalon. The end result is a kingdom that is pretty much has the look of a war zone. Throughout your various quests, you’ll tangle with living elemental forces, the ever popular undead, and dwarves who make Ross Perot look like a free-trade guy.

The other version is a straight player vs. player PK killing zone, where you fight against other online for the right to be considered the best guild in the whole internet world. The rankings are very through and you instantly can compare to the groups around the block, on the same server, and around the world. This is the very essence of what Guild Wars is about.

The “eye-candy” in this game is a bit of a problem for me. The music is nice and appealing, but there doesn’t seem to be much variety and it seems to repeat itself far too often. Graphics wise, it’s pretty good, but it has an Empire Earth I kind of feel to it, and while your portraits and clothing really look very appealing, I just can’t seem to shake that there is a slight blockiness to the people that reminds me a lot of the first version of the Sims.
Gameplay is rather interesting as well. The game relies heavily on group affairs. If you can’t trust anyone (like me), even in an non-pk arena, then the mercenaries are the way to go. You choose up to three other fellows that you’ll want to tag along with, and then you go on fighting from there. If you feel a bit more trusting, then you can field requests from practically anyone. You can only allow four people in a group. To keep people from scarping up everything, there’s a severe limit on how many different items can one person carry in his or her backpack (although you can get added gear to add more stuff you can carry), and everything is divided such that each item is slated for a particular character. It is not a bad idea.

You start out with very basic equipment, and it takes quite a bit of effort to obtain the materials and cash necessary to customize and upgrade your materials. One of the annoying parts was that you have to purchase a kit to be able anything you picked up along the way that has an unusual new power that hasn’t been determined by yourself. The customization is done linearly in the beginning, as you’re pretty much restricted by the kinds of enhancements you can do. For example, if you want to enhance a sword, the first thing all of the weapons expert will do to it is to increase the damage it does by 20%. And there’s no real way to say, “How much would it cost to have a 25% increase?” While I don’t like the idea, I do understand this forces the players to focus on being better through your skill allotment and not through anything else.

Moving around from zone to zone isn’t too bad. The first time through you’ll have to travel in real-time to places that you have not gone through. But, the second time through, you can click where there are well-established cities and just go there. No waiting, no really bad pause, and this leads to one of the best things about this game. Every time you go through an a new zone, the game checks itself for updates, so you don’t get Final Fantasy like hours of waiting for the computer to receive and then digest the new updates which seem like they don’t do a whole lot to the improvement of gameplay. More MMORPGs should start doing things like that.

This game is pretty good, althrough there are things about it that I would have wanted to have changed in it. And while the eye-candy is so-so, it has pretty solid, yet streamlined, gameplay. While, I don’t think it’s quite the kind of game that will make me sit there for hours and hours on end, I do think it is a pretty good diversion when you’re tired of World of Warcraft fever. Especially when there’s no monthly fee, only a fee if you want to have more than four slots.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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