RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Aug 24th 2008 at 12:38:37 AM by (Sirgin)
Posted under Review, Modern Gaming, PC, ArenaNet, NCSoft, MMO, RPG, Guild Wars

Guild Wars: Prophecies, released in 2005, was the first game ArenaNet ever developed. It's an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) that shares many traits with other games in the genre, but also introduced some interesting things; most importantly maybe that there's no monthly fee for playing this MMO.

If Guild Wars (GW) would've been an offline RPG, its story could've been considered a bit shallow. It is however an online RPG, where story is somewhat less important than the actual online interaction with other players.
You start out as a new recruit of Ascalon, which has been at war with the Charr for years. The Charr are a bunch of savage creatures from the North, who look like upright walking tigers with horns. Suddenly disaster strikes as the Charr launch a massive, magic-fed attack and almost completely overrun Ascalon; an event later called "The Searing". You regain control over your character two years later in the now post-apocalyptic Ascalon where the story further unfolds...

This story is what it should be and drives the main missions well. However, you already get to play with your character before the Searing, all of which serves as a big tutorial. In this tutorial (which can easily take up 10 hours) you learn the basics of combat for all professions and have to choose your secondary profession before you'll get thrown into the actual game.

As with most MMO's, you first get to create your character: male or female, tall or short, brown or blond hair. Also, you immediately have to decide which profession you want to be: ranger, warrior, monk, elementalist, necromancer or mesmer. This is a choice that'll profondly effect your further gameplay, so it's wise to try a few professions first before investing too much time in one that doesn't suit your style of play.

GW features pretty standard gameplay. Each profession can wield any type of weapon, but can only wear its own specific armor. The attributes of each profession are different though, which is why it's best sticking with weaponry suited for you. A ranger, for example, has an attribute called "Marksmanship" which improves damage done with a bow.
You gain attribute points every time you level up, until level 20, the maximum level. Different than in most MMO's, getting your character to the maximum level doesn't take hundreds of hours, but can be completed within 50-60 hours on your first playthrough. (Incredibly fast for a game of this type) Also armor and weapons which feature maximum stats aren't that rare, giving GW quite a unique perspective on achievements compared to most MMO's.

In GW, the real goals are titles which you can display under your name. These can range from obvious ones as "Champion", "Hero" or "Explorer" to "Drunkard", "Party Animal" or "Unlucky". Some of these are relatively easy to complete but most take tens or hundreds of hours, some almost a thousand hours to complete. Craziest title of all is "Legendary Defender of Ascalon". To achieve this title you need to get to level 20 in the tutorial area (before The Searing) which requires you to make enemies level up by letting yourself die over and over again. A perfect example of playing the game without actually playing it, something that can be said of alot of the titles in this game.

To advance through the world you'll have to explore Explorable Areas (what's in a name) by yourself or in a party, making your way from outpost to outpost. Some of these areas are linked to specific missions, which also push the main story along. Don't worry though, because the other areas are filled with NPC's giving you lots of FedEx quests to gain some more experience. GW's world map is huge; exploring it alone takes hundreds of hours.

In these explorable areas, you'll come across the unavoidable monsters, which drop some gold or items for you to pick up. Every profession has different abilities, which you collect along the way. Only 8 abilities can be used at the same time, making for some strategic tactics when putting together the ultimate set of abilities.

Graphically, GW is great, with nice characters and monsters and interesting and diverse scenery. I think the water is particulary nice, even maybe by today's standards.
Music and sound are pretty standard, same goes for the voice work; although there are some catchy musical themes. It's not mind-blowing, but never gets on your nerves aswell. (Very important for a game that never ends)

Now to discuss my theory on MMORPG's as a genre, and something that GW suffers from too. The problem with an MMO is you're either addicted or you're not. There's no middle way. (Atleast not for me)

When you're addicted, the game you're playing is the greatest game ever and you don't want to play anything but that game. With objectives (in GW's case: titles) taking hundreds or thousands of hours to complete, you can easily spend a whole year on an MMO, completely submurged in the game and everything about it.

However, once that addiction fades it's hard to stay interested, because games like GW or WoW are specifically made so they're only fun when played alot. Finding the motivation to perform these long, tedious tasks becomes much harder without that obsessive drive aswell.

As a conclusion I can say that Guild Wars is a great game in its genre, but it's still an MMORPG, so beware! Once you're hooked, you might not play another game anymore for months. Don't say I didn't warn you... 8.5/10

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Good review. While MMO's aren't really my thing, this one looks like a fun game regardless. Exploration and no monthly fees I could even see myself picking it up on the cheap sometime. Smiley
Great review, once again! But stop calling it "Little Review"!!!! Cheesy

What's your beef with the title anyway?
@c2534:It certainly is worth picking up if you see it cheap. Let me know when you picked it up and we can do a few quests together Smiley

@c2538:He thinks my reviews aren't small enough to justify the "Little" part of the title. I'm not changing it anymore though, I like it when the titles look consistent Wink

Well considering how major gaming websites have reviews that span several pages at times I think your title suits it well. For the same reason when I do a review on the blog I call it "Tan's Mini Reviews". Wink

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