Review by zpickle7

Reviewed: 05/16/05

Is it an MMORPG or not?

Perhaps the biggest question surrounding Guild Wars would be is it an MMORPG or is it not? The answer is somewhere in the middle.

Most MMOs are huge realistic persistant worlds with thousands of players interacting with each other. Guildwars does indeed have thousands of players interacting but the world hardly feels as real as say in Everquest or Dark Age of Camelot. The entire world feels very static. There is no day-night cycle. It stays at one time of day all the time. There is very little freedom of movement in the cities or wilderness. Often in the city I see a place off in the distance I'd like to explore but I hit an invisable wall. Invisable walls are bad in an MMO. It takes away from the experiance. In the wilderness there is a set path to follow in most zones. As with cities I'll see things I want to go inside and explore but I'm restricted to where I can and can't go. Perhaps the biggest annoyance this causes is I see where I need to go to complete a mission or quest objective just below a hill but I cannot run down the hill. I have to go what feels like miles out of my way just to find a way around.

Each environment is instanced and unique to a single person or a group. Cities are where the players meet up and decide to do a mission, quest, or just go to go out and explore. Once a person leaves the town it's just him/her and his/her group. This may seem like a turn off to those that like to meet up and adventure with other players in the middle of a desert but it's not really that big of an annoyance.

Guild Wars has things called missions which is basically like a campaign in any other action RPG. While this is unique to an MMORPG it ultimately makes it feel more linear than it should. These missions are very original in their objectives offering everything from kill named to escort missions. The missions also have cutscenes in which sometimes the leader of the party will have a bit of scripted voice acting. I wish more MMOs did this. As I mentioned earlier however in most situations you must follow a set path as there's really little alternative routes. Completing missions advances the storyline and takes you to a new city or region. This is perhaps my biggest gripe with Guild Wars. You have to do certain missions before you can go to the other regions. If you just want to explore the world then you're basically out of luck. The progression is very linear.

The sound is pretty much standard for this type of game. I thought the music was good but not nearly as nice as Everquest II. Outside of a few tunes in the cities there does really seem to be a whole lot of music in Guild Wars. The swords, spells, and enemy grunts all pretty much sound the same as they always have.

The graphics in this game are quite amazing. They manage to look great without hogging all your system resources. The lighting has this awsome glow effect on everything. The environments are also quite amazing. Right at the start of the game it puts you in this beautiful forest filled with trees, waterfalls, and sunshine and it takes a dramatic change to giant ruined cities. There's snowy peaks, lush forests, and beautiful beaches. In most MMOs you spend your first few levels in this totally uninteresting place killing giant rats and ants. There's no rat slaying in Guild Wars. Right from the start I found myself killing these giant creatures that can only be described as a cross between a giant lion and orc. The character models are great. There's a lot of detail in the faces and armor. The capes you can wear have a really nice realistic flowing effect in windy areas.

The battle system is execellent. Gone is the slow paced 1 on 1 combat of previous MMOs. The battles of Guild Wars are truely epic. The first time you see a huge group of giant golems racing towards your party is to cool to describe. Each and every battle is a challenge. It's impossible to win by hitting auto attack and going to get a Coke. People doing that will often find themselves dead. The combat is extremely fast paced with monsters coming at you from all sides. Since they constantly move it can get a little annoying though when you're surrounded by monsters have only have a little area in which to click to target them. You can buy or do quests to gain skills for your class and then equip each skill while you're in town. The catch is that you can only take 8 skills with you out to the wilderness. The trick is figuring out which skills work best for each situation.

Of course what would an MMO be without guilds? Guild Wars allows you to create guilds just like any other MMO. It even allows you to create custom guild cloaks and eventually your own guild hall. The main problem is that the max number of players a guild can have is 100. In regualr MMOs most guilds will reach up to 200+ members but you will find out later that only about 30-40 of them may even be active players. With such a heavy restriction on the number of people a guild can have it's hard to find a guild with more than 6-10 active players.

The coolest thing about Guild Wars is it's PvP. The game only has a level cap of 20 but that is for a good reason. Once you hit level 20 you're on a level playing field with the rest of the PvPers out there. It's clear to see that this is the area of the game that Arena Net put the most time in. Most PvP battles are 4 on 4 deathmatches but you can also participate in CTF and king of the hill type games. Once you gaint access to a place known as the Hall of Heroes you are able to participate in tournaments where you represent your home country. The winners of each tournament are even broadcasted out to everyone in the game. Once your guild gets a guild hall you can also participate in guild vs guild battles and attempt to become the number one guild in the game.

The UI could use some work. The group window isn't nearly large enough and has sometimes has to have a scroll bar. This can be a pain to healers who need to keep an eye on everyone's health. You can't see the players' name above their heads. You have to highlight them. This makes it a major pain to find someone you're looking for.

Overall Guild Wars can't be considered a true MMORPG simply because of how it's so linear. However those of you wanting a taste of the MMORPG genre but dont' want to have to pay those steep $15 dollar fees will find Guild Wars appealing. It's also great for those of us who don't have a lot of time to invest. Most quests can be done quickly and traveling is done mostly by instantly porting from town to town. If you're a fan of action RPGs by all means get this game. It blows Diablo 2 out of the water. If you're an Everquest addict like me then it might be best to find a friend that has it so you can try it out to see if it fits your style first.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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