Review by psaltery

"A Very Complex Game and a Worthy Successor to the Original"

Guild Wars 2 is a great sequel to the original Guild Wars and its expansions. The story of this sequel takes place 250 years after the events of the original. Looking at the sequel's map of the continent of Tyria, it's nearly identical to the original Guild Wars. Many locations have the same name but they have been completely redeveloped with new communities and landscapes. It's like re-visiting your hometown 250 years after you moved away. And unlike the original Guild Wars, our characters can now freely jump in the air, take falling damage, and swim underwater.

The original Guild Wars was all about mixing up the right skill combinations to be successful in player versus environment and player vs player battles.

Guild Wars 2 takes it a step further. Instead of waiting inside a town instance to swap skills and attributes, you can now swap your skills anytime you are not actively in the heat of battle. Furthermore, after you level up just a bit, you can actively weapon swap during battle which also swaps half your skill bar as well.

Guild Wars 2 does away with private instancing for player versus environment maps. Instancing is still available for storyline quests and cutscenes but the whole continent of Tyria is a public and shared explorer zone for all players.

This game lets you pick from 8 very diverse professions (Mesmer, Engineer, Thief, Ranger, Warrior, Guardian, Necromancer, Elementalist), and 5 races (Human, Charr, Norn, Asura, Sylvari). You can learn up to 8 crafting schools per character and you are granted 5 character slots initially. More slots can be purchased through the in-game store or by trading for gems with other players.

The crafting system in Guild Wars 2 is very detailed and a refinement of the original Guild Wars crafting system. The best part is you can deposit all crafting materials into an account vault that can hold every unique crafting ingredient (with a 250 unit limit per ingredient).

One word to describe the auction system in this game: Amazing. It's very user-friendly but it does charge you 5% of your selling price as a non-refundable listing fee, and then an additional 10% of the selling price if the item is actually sold.

The game has excellent graphics and you'll need a really good PC if you want to play it without lag or low framerates, especially in player versus player combat. The art style remains consistent with the original Guild Wars and the character creation system is more in depth with all sorts of facial feature adjustments and also personality types.

Guild Wars is rated T for Teen so there is no over the top violence or blood spilled everywhere. But it is a world full of ferocious bestial Charr, rodent-like Asura, and elf-like Sylvari. Humans look like your average Joe and Jenny and Norns are more like big superheroes that can transform into animal forms. All the player characters, non-player characters, and environment monsters and animals are very well animated. Moreover, the storyline and quest dialogue is powerfully voice-acted. Your character won't be a silent protagonist but will announce themselves as a true hero. Merchant and other NPC greetings are also nicely voice-acted which also adds to the gameplay experience.

I do have several complaints about this game so it's not perfect but it could be.

First off, there is a fee for using the map teleport waypoint system and this fee increases as you level up. Because of this, I feel like ArenaNet or NCSoft is kind of like a bank that wants to nickel and dime you. Map fast-travel was completely free in the original Guild Wars and to charge a fee for it in Guild Wars 2 is extremely annoying.

Secondly, many of the music tracks from the original Guild Wars are recycled in Guild Wars 2. Jeremy Soule and his crew did an excellent job with the music in Guild Wars but I would like to listen to some new music and the old music completely overpowers any new music that might exist.

My last major complaint is that instead of one big happy Guild Wars player family, we now have to pick a server as a semi-permanent home. I understand separate servers are needed for logistical reasons but it was a great experience in the original Guild Wars where you could meet up with anyone else that was playing the game.

Right now server swaps are free but ArenaNet is planning to charge for server swaps sometime in the future. Now my thinking is that if server swaps are currently free, then they should remain free. They could limit us to 1 free server swap a day or 1 a week and I'd be happy with that.

Final Recommendation
Overall the game is a 9 out of 10. Excellent graphics, a fancy user-interface with great character customization and a dynamic questing system, as well as fun and exciting combat, there are just so many things that make Guild Wars 2 a very enjoyable gameplay experience. And remember, there's no subscription fee. Thousands of hours of playtime are possible in a single purchase which is a big positive compared to other online games.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/12/12

Game Release: Guild Wars 2 (US, 08/28/12)

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