Global Agenda Review
|Release Date:||September 10th, 2010 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
I'm not an MMO kind of guy. I have neither the time nor the inclination to spend my time wandering around a vast, open world, beating the flesh of people to unlock the next level in my dwarfen cloak (somewhat ironic, considering my current obsession with New Vegas), so I was somewhat surprised by how much I enjoyed Global Agenda and it's Sandstorm expansion.
I never played Global Agenda before the Sandstorm expansion, so my comments here only account for the most resent incarnation of the game of course.
Playing like a cross between Tribes, a traditional MMO and Team Fortress, Global Agenda sees a planet Earth held under the jackboot of a massive conglomerate called the Commonwealth. The player, who quickly escapes from the government, joins a rebellion of sorts, and has to fight for the last few bits of free land on the planet - land covered in factories and other futuristic goodies that the competing 'Agencies' (read: clans, or guilds) have to battle over - all presented on a hexagonal grid that requires a little tactical thinking beforehand.
It's a simple setup, and it's light on story, but thankfully the gameplay more than makes up for this shortfall. Starting off with a simple create-a-character mode, the game gives you four character classes to choose from: Robotics (who can build turrets and raise shields) Recon (sniper/ninja who can turn invisible) Assault (chain guns and heavy armour at a premium) and the Medic (health packs on tap).
You then customise your appearance and perks, armour abilities and skills, and are set loose into the colourful world of Global Agenda.
The art design for the game is all about high-tech sci-fi and colourful environments. Armour and guns send pulses of neon light over your monitor, and the various environments of the game world - ranging from wide, windswept deserts to spaceships tearing through the immaterium, are all nicely rendered and pleasant to look at. The graphics certainly aren't on the level of high-spec games like Crysis, but that's to be expected in an MMO.
From what I can tell, Sandstorm's added several new quests, PvP and PvE maps and a huge, World of Warcraft-style desert to explore alone or with friends, increasing the initial content included in the game by a fair amount. There are also new weapons, armour and loot drops.
While a fair amount of grinding is needed to unlock the 'conquest' mode, which contains most of the PvP deathmatching on the hex grid, the PvE levels are more than enough fun on their own, allowing a small fire-team of players to team up and blow the heck out of a legion of Commonwealth robots, culminating in a mini-boss fight and a whole lot of swag.
While the traditional MMO players might find the inventory system a little annoying - as new armour and weapons needs to bought at a vendor in the 'dome world' lobby - I found it a simple and easy method to use, though the PvE experience points really need to come at a faster rate, as most of the PvP players have kit far better than is available to you early on.
The gameplay is fast and furious, and the addition of jetpacks only makes each battle more interesting. The shooting dynamic of the game is well implemented, especially as it can handle the use of an Xbox controller. The close combat, while very swing-and-miss (literally) is nicely done, and it's fun to use your jetpack to zip about, hurling grenades from the sky like a vindictive raincloud.
The game really takes off, however, when you and your team work together. A typical PvP match can become a rout if your team don't pull together and use your overlapping abilities to aid the cause.
Medics can follow Assault troopers, keeping them alive, while a Robotics expert raises a shield to protect the team, and a Recon ninja appears behind the enemy, laying into them with his monofilament blade.
This teamplay dynamic keeps the gameplay intense and fast-paced, and encourages prior planning to pull off, especially when the enemy Agency are pulling off similar manoeuvres.
The action is, at times, as much fun as mainstream titles like Halo - and quite apart from the MMO experience I was expecting.
However, aside from the slightly limited number of PvE and PvP matches and quests on offer, and the huge environment of the desert included in Sandstorm, there isn't really much to do - the cardinal sin of any MMO.
Deathmatches can get boring eventually, despite the good design of the levels and the intensity of the action, and the quieter moments really could do with a little more variety.
Thankfully, Global Agenda does not require a monthly subscription, and the developers, Hi-Rez Studios, have a good community constantly throwing new ideas their way.
The game itself is a very stable platform, with a cool techno soundtrack and reasonable voice acting. In-game chat and typing is easy and quick to use, and ideal for that tense match when you need to get your heads together to break the deadlock.
Global Agenda: Sandstorm, is a refreshing take on the genre, managing to combine MMO, shooter and sci-fi into one nice little package. With no subscription, it's looking like the developers will be adding new quests and areas with regularity, as the game itself is still a little light on content, despite the add-on.
If you're looking for an excellent, sci-fi, squad-based shooter with a bit of MMO in its makeup, then give it a look.
- Frenetic action
- Well implemented team shooting
- Good art design
Not so good stuff
- Not a huge amount to do outside of deathmatches
- Heavy imbalance between experienced and new players in loot and gear
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