Review by Kimari

"'Guild Wars' entertains RPG players of any kind with an addicting world and few flaws"

May 19th was destined to be a great day for me- the new Star Wars movie came out, and it was the day that I was going to purchase Guild Wars. As I, along with 3 other friends, waited for our theatre to open, we walked down to buy Guild Wars, which we had read about online and thought that it was the perfect game for all of us, since we were huge fans of Diablo 2.

All four of us bought the game, and for the next few months, we were all addicted to it. This was our perfect summer game, and it basically took over our lives.

This is a near-perfect game for any RPG fan who likes to play them online. Even though it has been over 5 months since I bought the game, I feel a review is necessary at this time.

The story is not incredibly complex, and it harkens back to themes in the Diablo and Warcraft series. Basically, you are a hero (which is the character you create before diving in to this gigantic world) and must defend your country from the Charr, a menacing beast army from the north that threatens the kingdom of Ascalon. Doesn't sound too complex, does it? No, it's not, and it really doesn't get much more unpredictable than that. As the story moves along, you move out into the world from locale to locale. However, about halfway through the game the story jumps around a bit and this has confused several players. The plot is decent enough, though personally it wasn't the main factor that kept me playing. The gameplay and the world were. However, if you are looking for a complex, Xenogears-like plot, you won't find it here.

But who cares about the plot when there is such excellent gameplay at hand? There are so many elements involved, it's hard to keep them all in line. Basically, the game is split into two parts: PvE (story/mission mode) and PvP (player vs. player). I'll admit, I play MUCH more PvE than I do PvP, though PvP is still alot of fun and it is constantly updated.

PvP takes place in a tournament called 'Hall of Heroes' and it is essentially a world-wide battle. The region that holds the Hall of Heroes (at this time, the only regions are USA, Europe, and Korea, but Taiwan and others are soon on their way) is announced to all players all over the world (both the game world and the real world) and there is an added benefit to holding Hall besides pride, but you can discover that in the PvE area for yourself.

The world for PvE is huge, with towns and cities littered all over the world map. If you want to breeze through the story line as quickly as possible, do the "Primary Quests". These lead you from town to town and ultimately the end of the game. However, you will miss out on the great rewards, items, experience, etc. if you skip all of the other optional quests, which far outnumber the necessary ones. As the game goes on, these quests get much harder in difficulty, and more “Missions” start popping up. These missions are required to move on to the next town (they do not appear in every town/outpost), and thus you move on with the game. In the last half of the game there are several difficult missions, and people have been known to be stuck on a single one for days, weeks, possibly even over a month. If you want to succeed in the tough missions, I can give you this advice: There is no ‘I' in ‘team'.

As you go along, you can give your character new weapons, armors, etc. (like most other RPGs). You will also level up as you kill more monsters and get experience, though here is one of the flaws of the game (at least in my mind)- the maximum level your character can attain is 20. The reason for this, according to the developers, is because the game is based more upon skill than the number of hours you have logged in the game, which is somewhat true. This is not a solo game like the Diablo series can sometimes become. It is imperative, especially in the latter half of the game, to join a good team.

Which is another area that people, such as myself, somewhat dislike: the emphasis is placed so heavily on the team concept that your character's individual stats and equipment may end up meaningless. You can have the highest level, the best weapon, and the toughest armor in the game, but if your team is terrible and uncooperative, then you will fail. This isn't totally a negative thing though- usually, teaming up with people (teams range from 2-8 people) is incredibly fun. With Guild Wars, it is not only fun, but also a staple of the game, so if you don't play well in groups, you may be in trouble. Luckily, there are henchmen, which are computer controlled characters that you can recruit in any town/outpost for any mission/quest, and there are some people who can get through the entire game with just henchmen by their side.

There are two big pluses to this game that have not yet been mentioned. First off, there is no monthly fee, and there never will be a monthly fee; ArenaNet has officially stated this time and time again. You buy the game, and there, no more paying, except for the expansion sets that they will eventually release (the first one is coming in mid-2006). Knowing that the world of Guild Wars has only just started and that so much more is on the way in the future is pleasing.

And speaking of expansions, another great thing going for this game is how the developers can update the game whenever they want. Recently, in September, an expansion called ‘Sorrow's Furnace' was placed in the game, which included two new areas, more quests, new weapons/armors, etc. Though big updates like 'Furnace' are rare and will be announced when they come, other updates are significant too, like changing the specifications on skills or adding a quest or two in the world.

Bottom line- this is a great game. Only a couple of flaws (big emphasis on team, level cap is 20) but they may or may not be changed in future updates. Sometimes those aren't even negative things. If you like MMORPG, then this is a great game for you. Plus, there is no monthly fee! And it runs so smoothly too…sorry I forgot to mention this, but the graphics are beautiful and clear, and there is rarely lag (at least for me). The music is also wonderful, especially the new tunes that came with the Sorrow's Furnace update.

So buy it. Go now, or ask for it for the coming Christmas or something. If you enjoy RPGs, then I can guarantee you will be sucked into it pretty soon into the game. If you like Everquest, for example, and think that MMORPGs should strictly be like that format, then you may find this game odd, or on the other hand it will be something new. Like I've been saying, it's very addictive, so it should last awhile.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/28/05

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