Review by Fossil

"You can't beat skill and free online play."

Guild Wars was a huge game in works many years ago. I actually didn't know about it until probably March. But the game had 2 Beta's that I knew of to test the game as they finished it up, made fixes, etc. Guild Wars stream lines data as you play the game. So you won't ever download parts of the game you may not end up reaching 50 hours later. You download things when they are necessary for you to continue.

Guild Wars is made by ArenaNet. Not a very well known game company right now but they've got many interesting games in the making. A group of Blizzard Employees were part of the main crew of developers in Guild Wars. For those of you who don't know who Blizzard is, they've probably made the most popular RTS ever(Starcraft). But anyways, I believe the Blizzard employees are part of the reason ArenaNet was able to pull off free online play with Guild Wars. Yes, that's right, I said FREE ONLINE PLAY. A lot of people deny the truth that it's free online when it's obvious it is. They feel the game will cost money in the future and that it takes SO MUCH effort to run servers and what not, which obviously isn't true. Blizzard pulled it off with 3 games running on, why can't ArenaNet? Free online alone will draw in a huge crowd of gamers of all ages. I must say, this game isn't for the younger generation in my opinion. It involves more strategy and PvP like no other. You won't get very far in this game if you expect to just hack and slash your way through.

Guild Wars is kind of like EverQuest in the time era it takes place in. More or less Medieval times of war and magic, monsters and gods. This game is very large and isn't something you should expect to master in a week. You can do things from exploring a huge world to having pets and training them to fight at your side, customize weapons and armor, create a guild and recruit a large number of players and fight against other guilds to compete for supremacy over everyone else to exploring the map with friends, partaking in quests and learning more about the Storyline and how it revolves around what you're doing now and from the past.

This game is all about skill. And that's where the main portion of this games combat system comes in. Skills are what separate you from everyone else... and your class. But I'll get more into that later in the review.

Gameplay - 9/10
You start off the game by picking which mode you want to do. There are two different modes. Story Mode and PvP Mode. Story mode basically takes you into the game and you learn everything about Guild Wars, find items, kill monsters, level your character, etc

The PvP Mode puts you right into the PvP portion of the game. You basically make your character right there and jump right into the game. The point of PvP Mode is strictly PvP. I personally haven't made a character for this yet, so I can't speak much for what you can actually do outside of PvP.

When you create a character you have the choice of picking from 6 different classes.
Warrior - This would be your close combat player. Melee with swords, hammers and things of the such.
Ranger - A Ranger is the long range class with bows and arrows. They are the only class that can have pets as well.
Mesmer - A Mesmer is probably the hardest class to get play as a beginner. They mostly deal with countering magic and attacks and then using it against their opponent.
Monk - The Monk would be your healer. He keeps the party alive and can other things such as raising your teams abilities temporarily or hindering the enemy.
Elementalist - Magical spellcasters, nuff said.
Necromancer - A Necromancer is your negative based magic class. You can raise the dead, do damage from taking the life force of your enemy and cast curses on them for periods of time.

You really don't get very many options for style. You pick your class and sex, which will give you different hair styles, faces, looks, etc. I would say this is something they could've broadened and made more customizable, but oh well. In the game you can actually find Dyes to color your clothing and give your characters unique looks. I guess that's one reason character customization isn't so broad. Maybe Expansions in the future will open this up some more. You then give your character a name, which has to be realistic to some degree(2 words or more).

The game takes place in a huge world, that for the most part is completely explorable. You have your limits of climbing steep hills, jumping off cliffs, swimming and what not, but considering just how much you can explore is amazing. You can walk or run and strafe, etc. Getting around can be pretty glitchy sometimes when the game loads, so you'll have to bear with it. This game is still very early in it's life so things will be updated and fixed in the future with no problems.

What you'll most likely be doing in the game is questing and leveling your character, finding new weapons, items, etc. Quests make up a big part of the Storyline and offer huge rewards most of the time. So it's definitely worth playing them all even if you don't need to. You can partake in multiple quests at a time or one at a time. Whatever suits you. Most will reward you nicely and with things you may not be able to find anywhere else. A word of advice, when you complete quests, be sure you have some free space for whatever you may receive for rewards or else you won't be able to complete the quest.

Storage early in the game can get pretty bothersome for those that like to stock up on things. Extra storage is available early, but after you pass a certain point in the game you'll have a LOT more room to stash things. Items stack so you don't have to worry about having 10 different slots to carry the same thing. You can organize your items, trash them, use them, put them on your character if it's armor or weapons. You can also customize weapons and armor later in the game, which overall, will make you more powerful in PvP and against enemies.

Now onto skills. Skills are probably the core of the player and in PvP. Skills are based on the class you choose and your secondary class(if you choose to have one). Skills have certain attributes they are based off of. Which I will talk about next. You can have up to 8 skills at any given time and can arrange them in towns and outposts. When you're out in the wild fighting etc, you are stuck with what you have. But that shouldn't bother you unless you really needed to replace a skill with one that was required for maybe a certain quest or enemy fight. Which you could just map jump to a town; another very handy feature in the game. There are probably up to 70-80 skills per class. Meaning if you had a secondary Class you could have up to 150+ skills in your grasp to use at your own disposal.

Attributes are the other thing that differentiates player from player. Most classes have about 4-5 different attributes that play there roles for those types of skills. You get attribute points for every level you gain. The BEST thing about Attribute Points is you can refund points you've already used to put them into another Attribute you feel like trying out later on. A very nice feature in the game that ups replay value substantially.

Control - 7/10
I will admit, I'm not much of a computer gamer. So getting used to using my Keyboard and Mouse over a controller is different, but it's not as hard to memorize as I had thought. When you buy the game, you get a little "Quick Reference Guide" that shows you the default setup on the keyboard. You can use the mouse for everything on the Keyboard as well, just at a slower rate. The keys are setup pretty good as far as being close to doing one thing that might lead up to something else you're doing. The skills are setup based on the numbers. The number pad isn't actually used for anything, so I came to find out. Which isn't much of a bummer, trying to use skills on the other side of the keyboard would be tedious. I probably played the game for 5+ hours the day I got it and by the next day I pretty much had most of the keys memorized. If you can type normally with 2 hands then you shouldn't have a problem knowing which keys are where. If you're a finger typer and look at the keyboard... that might be a different story, haha.

Story - 10/10
I can't tell you how involved the Story is in this game. The Manual that comes with the game is probably one of the thickest I've ever seen for a game. Half of it is probably the story alone. Which is a very good read. I personally hate reading books, but this was really interesting and TRUST me when I tell you that you want to read it before playing the game. I started reading already playing the game, but you'll understand a lot more of what you do if you read it, already having the knowledge of the history as you play and get to know towns, locations and the meanings of certain places.

Every quest plays a part in the Storyline as well. The more quests you play, the more you know about the Storyline. You don't have to play the quests, mind you, but playing them is a big part of the game and well worth the time and effort. But all in all the Storyline is very involving and won't disappoint.

Graphics - 9/10
The Graphics are absolutely amazing. You can see the game for miles ahead of what you're actually doing. The landscape is very well done. Hell, you can even change the Visual Quality of the game as you play it. Ranging from realistic water ripples, shadows off of trees, players, buildings, the clouds pluming overhead and reflecting off the water to as simple as near motionless water, a mere shadow under your player to movement in the grass and weeds. The advantage of this option is MUCH smoother gameplay for those of you that don't have the luxury of a very high end computer that can handle this game with no problems. I will say my computer isn't something for gaming these days, but my specs are just good enough to handle Guild Wars on an average scale. This game does have a Video Card requirement which is pretty high on my standards. Most people seem to have the cash for something like a Radeon 9800 or a Nvidia 6800, but I don't. I got a Radeon 9200SE for 50 bucks and the game runs great on it. You don't need anything expensive.

Detail on players, monsters and items is very well done. It may seem like not much is put into the active environment as you play, but you can zoom in and basically scroll 3D all around yourself to get angled shots from just about anywhere. You can even play this game in 1st person if you wanted too. I wouldn't recommend it though.

Sound - 10/10
RPG's are known to have very good music and rhythm in the game as you play it. Guild Wars is just that. Relaxing music for every area you go to. I'm not sure if it's just me, but it seems like they update the Servers sometimes and change the music in the areas to keep it fresh. I could just be hallucinating though. But one unique thing ArenaNet did was provide each skill with it's own unique sound for PvP purposes. This is something they did for those hardcore PvP players that want to become masters of the game and know what their opponents are planning to do. So basically, you just listen for that "chime", know what your opponents next move is going to be and counter attack it with something of your own to render them useless. Very useful, but will take a lot of time to memorize all those unique sounds.

Replay Value - 10/10
First off, this game is online. Online games ALWAYS have a huge amount of replay value. This game is a new generation RPG that includes a huge 3D world which you can explore with friends, strangers or NPC's whom will aid you in your battles. The PvP alone will more than likely be the reason this game lives on. Hence the name 'Guild Wars' which is what PvP consists of, Guilds going at it to compete for Rank and Fame. But I mean you have 6 different classes to choose from. You can mix any 2 classes and come up with tons of combinations with unimaginable skill combinations to dominate your enemies. This game will last for hundreds of hours easy if you plan to do everything in the game.... or try too, haha.

Overall - 10/10
I recommend this game for anyone. Especially those big on RPG's and online gaming. If you're a competitive person, make a guild and duke it out with hundreds of guilds to prove just how good you are WHILE exploring the game on another character and finding new weapons and armors for your Guild Character so he can become more powerful and hold his own in combat.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 05/17/05, Updated 08/15/05

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