After the all-conquering, all-consuming success of World of Warcraft, the MMORPG gene pool has deteriorated into a pool of macrobiotic slime, from which game developers only seem capable of making bad clones of the Blizzard title. Fortunately though, there are signs of evolution as we enter 2010, and today we're looking at Global Agenda, an MMO that could only be labelled a WoW clone by someone who has dedicated their life to entirely missing the point.
Not only is Global Agendanot a WoW clone, it's unlike pretty much any MMO we've seen. This is the debut title of developers, High-Rez and It's a sci-fi title based on the Unreal 3 engine. You can play Global Agenda without a monthly subscription, or you can pay monthly fee of to gain access to the Conquest feature. This allows you to engage in PvP gameplay with persistent territory, competing to gain control of areas and resources, with your agenda being global control, and will cost £7.99 a month in the UK or $12.99 in the US.
As Global Agenda is a brand new game - and one with a pay-if-you-want approach, in this review we're going to take a look at the boxed game and how it plays for the opening 20 hours or so. Reviewing an MMO is a sticky business at the best of times as they go on for so long and constantly evolve. As such, most of this review focusses on the game's PvE gameplay, something that should help you decide if you want to try it and move on to the paid-for PvP.
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As the title suggests, the game's futuristic world and storyline are politically orientated. The back-story of Global Agenda is a rich weave of scandal, war, rebellion and sci-fi goodness. The game is set in the year 2155 after the third world war which cost the human race trillions of dollars to kill 4.6 billion people. From the devastation created by this fresh height of human stupidity arose the Commonwealth, a government organistation that's seeking to restore order to the planet through oppressive means. Naturally such a move can only result in rebellion and, ensuring the game is entertaining, this rebellion is manifested in the form of special agents with high-tech weaponry, awesome suits of armor, robots and, inevitably for an MMO, emo haircuts.
When you first fire up Global Agenda the character creation screen provides you with a decent selection of emo haircuts, the elaborateness of which will undoubtedly earn you respect among your peers. There's a good selection of pre-sets for facial features so you should be able to produce an original avatar too. Once you're finished here, you're given the option of whether or not to skip the intro sequence which takes you over the basics of character control and provides some scene-setting cuts with motion-captured NPCs that move like drunk power rangers.
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Entering the game world, we were expecting Global Agenda to be an FPS MMO, especially as the internet is awash with talk of this being the case - the game is hyped by some as the "new Planetside." However, it's in fact a third person shooter, with your avatar slipping around on the ground in between the bottom of your display and the crosshair. It would be have awesome to have an option to change the view to a true FPS, but it's not present.
Rather than having a continuous world in which to yomp around, gather quests and bump into old grinding buddies, Global Agenda operates out of the central city hub. At the centre is a machine which dishes out instanced missions which are available for a group of four agents. When you've got yourself a quartet of willing gamers, you're beamed down to the starting point. From there-on in, you're in a team-based action shooter with different classes taking different roles. The action-based combat sets Global Agenda apart from the pack, and it's a refreshing change to have some twitch-reflex, realtime run and gun gaming in an MMORPG.