It’s hard to contain myself within a word limit regarding this game, I feel as though I can ramble on for days about it. But as this is the preview of Guild Wars I will leave the rambling till someone does the review of the full game.
I would say only a handful of games come out each year which fit into the category of instant classic. They’re so ground breaking and revolutionary that there is something for every game player to like about the game. Guild Wars may look like just another MMORPG (Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Game), but once you have scratched the surface it offers much more than any other game of a similar vein. From the ground up Guild Wars has been built with the concept that players want to have fun with a game, because that means they will keep playing it. So many aspects of Guild Wars revolve around the removal of the undesirable elements found in other MMORPGs.
I have played one or two MMORPGs in my life and none have really inspired me to part with $15 (£8-10) a month to continue playing them. Guild Wars offers much more. The gaming experience I want with no monthly fee! Yes, just like any other computer game on the market once you have bought it you don’t pay anymore to play the game. This alone sets Guild Wars in a league above all other games of its genre.
A big problem many people have with MMORPGs is certain undesirable elements that mean nothing but stress and an unentertaining game experience. Some of these elements take on the form of people who like nothing more than to upset and annoy new players and make their life difficult. I have played a few games where as soon as I walk outside of the safe areas I’m dead, because some kid likes to sit there and kill new players (PK) that are far weaker than themselves; this appears to be some form of power trip for them. This aspect of MMORPGs has been totally removed from Guild Wars, if someone wants to attack you they either have to challenge you to an arena dual or take you on in Guild vs. Guild combat. This gives new players the peace of mind that someone won’t attack them out of hand just to feel superior, because one can just say no and ignore the requests for duels!
Other aspects such as camping waiting for animals to re-spawn just to grind up your XP have also been removed. The XP curve is smooth and quick. During the time I have played the preview, I never felt as though I had to sit in one area killing hundreds of things just because I needed to get to the next level. Just playing out the quests and missions is enough to get you through, and there are plenty of them to add variety to your life. So with grinding gone the game playing experience has been greatly enhanced, as a casual gamer I find this to be one of the most appealing factors of the game.
In fact many aspects of Guild Wars have been built around having a fun and enjoyable experience that you can come back to again and again. Unlike other MMORPGs you don’t feel compelled to come back just because you have paid for a month. You can leave Guild Wars for a few months and come back and your characters will be where you left them. The world might have changed, but your bank balance hasn’t.
I have to admit when I first saw the screen shot I though there is no way this game will look like that on my PC. Well, I’m very glad to say I’m very wrong. The screenshots viewable on this site and many others are real in game undoctored screenshots. My PC is not the newest one out there, in fact for the record I have a 1.8 GHz PC with a GF4 Ti4800, and I can run the game with all the effects on and no slow down. I have even tested the game in different systems and it will is still playable on a 1 GHz with a GF 2 and 256mb of ram. So if you have an old PC don’t be put off by the graphics, it will run in such a way that the game is playable. Then at a later date when you want to upgrade your PC Guild Wars will be able to utilise your upgrades accordingly.
Anyway back to the graphics. They look like water colour paintings in some areas, and a large amount of quality of work has gone in to making each area look the best they can. I for one, plan on starting a holiday snaps collections with screen shots. You can just sit there and take in the vibe of the beaches to the mountains of the world. For many players of this type of game, who are disadvantaged and cannot get out much, it offers something whereby you can see things which would be hard to see in real life. I recommend this game to anyone who has trouble getting about and wants to see a world where you have every type of landscape imaginable.
Just trust us when we say the graphics are the best we have ever seen in a MMORPG, and in many other games currently on the market.
I will have to say in many games I find the music annoying and distracting, this is one of the few where I have found it adds to the game and overall mood of the world. It seems to mesh so well and is brilliantly composed, I’m sure they must have taken some cues from movies like Lord of the Rings and others like Gladiator. I just feel that this music is right for the game and it enhances rather than detracts from it.
As for the sound, like the graphics they have created a rich tapestry of sound which adds to the area you’re in. Just walking from a waterfall to a forest will give you a sample of the range of sounds within the game. It seems they have picked the important elements in the aural spectrum which offer more of a feeling of being there.
Really, a lot of the sound aspect of the game cannot be put into words and you just have to listen to the game. An added bonus for anyone who buys the Collectors Edition is the addition of the soundtrack on audio CD. I think this has to be one reason to spend a bit of extra cash and get the CE edition.
The biggest bore with any MMORPG is waiting for the latest patch or update so you can play. In some cases by the time you have the update you’re not in the mood to play anymore. Guild Wars has hammered this concept into the ground. Their streaming technology has to be some of the best developed for any game. Any updates you need for an area will be downloaded as you enter or wander around, so you don’t have to download useless data, also because it streams while you play it’s seamless. It won’t affect play and causes negligible lag, to a point where you won’t notice it unless you have a really slow connection. Even the download between new areas only takes a minute or so, so you’re not wandering away looking for something to do while it’s downloading.
Another good aspect of this technology, is that updates are dynamic there is no one patch a month scheme as soon as a bug is fixed or new content is added it will start to stream when you use it, so you don’t have to wait for it to download. From what I have worked out from the previews the updates come close to 10 per day. However, this might slow down a little after release as most of the bugs will be squashed. However, while playing don’t be surprised if an area changes next time you visit or while you’re there.
One of my biggest gripes in the past with MMORPGs has been the interface; many games suffer from a non-intuitive and clunky interface. Guild Wars I’m glad to say doesn’t, the interface is customisable to the nth degree. It offers all the information you need and access to all the vital components quickly. It seems that they have removed buttons which are un-important in completing quests and combat, or don’t require fast reactions, and changed them to chat commands, because that’s where you will be using them the most. As the last thing you want to do is start dancing while fighting of hordes of creatures, because you accidentally hit the wrong button.
I would have to say smooth is the word for the game play in Guild Wars, within an hour you will have everything where you want it and know most of the keys you will need to play. So no need for hours of key binding and scripting to have what you need at hand.
One of the key features of Guild Wars is protected environments. By this I mean when you form a group to go out on quests to fight monsters, the areas you go in beyond the safe zones are yours. Other players cannot interfere and grief you or cause problems whereby you cannot complete the quest. Then once done you can head back to the safe areas and meet many thousands of people who are interested in similar things. It might not be to the tastes of every MMORPGer, but it offers a better gaming environment for the new players and those who just want to have fun.
I would say because there is no monthly fee and the low cost of the initial purchase, this game offers an inroad to people who want to try out a MMORPG, or who just want to hang out with people all over the world and chat. I can see many people who have troubles getting about buying this game because it offers them a chance to explore a world and meet new people and not face any of the prejudice or problems they may get in the real world. Also anyone who wants to maintain a level on anonymity but likes to meet people can use this as a portal to do so.
I have heard people say about other MMORPGs that it’s only $15 a month; it’s not much you should play. I say when it’s free then I’m interested, as I cannot spend hours a day playing. I want to be able to come back as and when and join in without feeling pressured in to doing so. Guild Wars offers me and many other people what they want from a MMORPG, a no hassle environment, with no pressure to play because you have paid up for the month. From here on in a lot of MMORPGs should sit up and take note, Guild Wars is coming and it will be the MMORPG of choice by many people who are worried about monthly fees or sadistic kiddies on a killing spree.
This is the long and the short of it, I guess I will have to wait till the servers go live, and then do a full review once everything is in place. Just as a side note buy this game it’s not much and there is no commitment but you can at least try out the MMORPG genre without having to worry about the expense of continued play. In fact many of the reviewers at Games Xtreme like what we have seen so much were all getting the game and forming a guild, so if you see members of Obliviata Wolf [Owlf] around say hi.