Review by cam the man

"O yea? Well my Guild can kick your Guild's ***!"

Thousands of years after the gods left the continent of Tyria, a new menace arises for the people of Ascalon. As one of six unique classes, you embark on an epic journey to save Ascalon, and in the end Tyria as well. All without subscription fees!

Gameplay 9/10
Guild Wars is undoubtedly one of the most balanced and fun games I have played in a LONG time. Starting off, you choose as one of six classes- Warrior, Ranger, Monk, Elementalist, Necromancer, and Mesmer are the classes you have to choose from, as well as picking a secondary profession to complement your first.

For example, if you pick an Elementalist/Monk, you can either use your Elementalist powers to strike down a foe, or you can use their increased mana pool as an advantage in healing. If you pick a Mesmer/Necromancer, you can use the unique Anti-Caster spells of the Mesmer and the powerful Hex spells of a Necromancer to bring down even the most powerful of casters.

Unique combinations like this are what make this game so fun. Not to mention all of the gear and customization that can go on within the game. Finding that perfect weapon, discovering a unique dye combination for your armor, or just customizing your skillset, there are never two avatars exactly the same in the game world.

Now an important thing to mention here, is that if you are coming over from another MMO like World of Warcraft or Everquest II, you are going to have a hard time switching over. First, the level cap is 20, and you can achieve it in about 20-30 hours if you follow the main quests. That means no more useless grinding to get to coveted level 2332442. Another result of the low level cap besides the anti-grind ensures that the PvP arenas are much more accessable, and are not dominated by the "grinders" who are always gaining experience. You are given a set limit to attribute points, which means that you cannot be almighty god of <Insert Class name here>. It forces you to make strategic decisicions when making your character. You also can only use 8 skills/spells at any one time, so it encourages you to think ahed, and devise unique strategies to work with what you have equipped.

And the classes are amazingly balanced too. A good Mesmer can take down just about any player, but then again a Ranger can keep a Mesmer frustrated and unable to cast his spells. A Warrior can sure put the smackdown on a Necromancer, but if a Necro can start yanking out vampiric spells, that Warrior won't have long to live.

Even if you have never enjoyed PvP in other games (I don't want to lose my armor/money/weapons/loot), you are bound to give it a try in Guild Wars. The only penalty incurred on dying is a percentage of your max health/mana taken away, but it can be earned back by scoring kills, and your stats are instantly recharged upon entrance to a town or outpost. Also, participating in PvP earns you experience points and Faction, points that you can use to unlock upgrades or skills, in case you don't want to play PvE in order to get some items. And speaking of PvE, you don't have to run all the way across the map, taking hours out of your gaming time to get to some previously visited outpost. You simply press a button and click on a city, VOOSH you're there. And every time you and your party enter the land, you are given your own little "instance", or copy of the zone. That means no other players camping monster spawn, stealing your loot/kill, or ganking you on the side of the road. Although it detracts from the "massive" feeling felt in other MMO's, its something I'm willing to give up. Thanks to ArenaNets unique "Instancing" system, lag for all players is drastically reduced across the board. This game is even 56k friendly aside from update downloads and content download, but those are manageable.

Now for the negative part of the game... the player base. Granted that this game does not have a monthly fee, it is bound to be more accessible to younger players, and although it isn't always a bad thing, an immature player can ruin a mission for the entire party. Not only that, and although the creators are on top of the game providing fresh new content and upgrades, the economy in Guild Wars is shot to hell. Some rare items that hardly drop can sell for as little as 10 gold, while others can sell for up to 100 platnium. (1 plat=1k gold) Of course additions of NPC players and "nerfs" of monster drops in certain areas is balancing out the money flow for players, slowly but surely.

Story 6/10
As I mentioned above, the storyline is your average save-the-kingdom, fight-the-evil, blah blah blah stuff that has been included in every RPG for the last 10 years. Not to say that it doesn't offer its unique thrills, but it isn't the most indepth story out there. One bad thing about the missions, is that some of them can be insanely easy, while others can be maddeningly difficult. It isn't as much as the monsters/situations set up, but the other players who work with you. You are offered computer controlled Henchmen to aide you, at the cost of item drops and cash division, but Henchmen are nowhere near as flexible as real people are. The nice part of the story is that the smaller quests are well written, and greatly vary from the typical "Slay this, Retrive that".

A beginners area in the beginning of the game gets you acquanted with the controls in a low-stress environment, as well as introducing you to the plotline. And the scenery along the way is very detailed, varying from wastelands and swamps to tropical forests and jungles. Not to mention a huge amount of explorable land that has nothing to do with the story, Guild Wars provides a beefy, though not fully cooked, experience for the PvE player.

Graphics 9/10
One of the prettiest games out there, Guild Wars sports full animations and emotes (/dance, /yawn, etc...), as well as realistic fight and spell visuals. And this game is NOT a graphics hog either. I was able to run Guild Wars on medium-low on an Nvidia MX 400. Water splashes, snowflakes falling, monsters burning, thunder crackling down from the sky, Guild Wars is a very pretty game. My only quabble with it is the lack of mouth animations for the characters. How could ArenaNet not include those?

Sounds 8/10
With music directed by a professional orchestra, the Guild Wars soundtrack is very moving, however it tends to get repetitive after a while, and no amount of orchestral quality can save the game from that... Also, the spell sounds can get tedious as well, but some spells can have some very interesting sounds (Charr arrow anyone?)

Play Time/Replayability 8/10
With six different classes to play as (as well as a secondary class) it takes about three play-thru's to unlock everything for every class for PvP. One of the nicest things is that if you have a unique build that you want to try out with PvP, you don't have to make a new character and bring him/her through the story. All you have to do is make a "PvP Character" which can use all the spells/skills you have unlocked, as well as items/weapons. The downside is that you can only use him in the PvP arenas, but that isn't much of a problem for me. There isn't much difference in quests taken on by different classes, but the play styles are vastly different, and do warrant a play thru for each to at least find out how they play, and to find unique combinations.

I've played this game nearing 300 hours, and over 200 of that has been playing PvP. It took me a relatively short time to finish the game, but then again I sped through it. There is a wealth of hidden outposts and areas to explore, and they all have amazing visuals that you won't notice anywhere else. Not to mention the unique types of PvP (Guild vs Guild warefare, Hall of Heroes tournament, as well as 4vs4 arenas), this game should keep you occupied for hours as long as you are willing to open up your mind. Only problem for me is that going back to play though the game, the only compellation I had was to unlock new skills. I didn't want anything to do with the story. It isn't the most entertaining, and is by no measure a Final Fantasy.

Final Opinion BUY
This game is the MMO to change all MMO's, the game to own all games. It has a little bit for everyone, coupled with unparalled convenience and ease of use, you have yourself a gem right there.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/25/05

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