Prior to your first engagement, Global Agenda feels much like your average MMORPG. At the bottom of the interface can be found shortcut bar that corresponds to the number keys on your keyboard, player characters scurry around with their names displayed luminously above their heads and vendors stand behind counters ready to take every rabbit's paw that you happen upon in your travels.
Player vs Environment gameplay takes place in one of four security levels, ranging in difficulty from 'low security' to 'double agent'. Each level of security contains five different missions which you spawn in at random. Many missions are very similar to one another in terms of level design and they're all painfully linear. Alternative routes to the end from the starting point are nonexistent and each one kicks off with a handful of enemy droids to mow down and climaxes in a boss fight. If you die then it's back to beginning for you catch up with your buds and a mid-way checkpoint can be used if you're that far in. The loot is minimal – consisting of 'scraps' of armour and weapons – making things all the more mundane and, quite frankly, a rabbit's paw or goat's spleen would breathe some well-needed variation in to the proceedings. Phat lootz is one of the best parts of MMO questing and it's painfully amiss in Global Agenda.
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Mercifully, the action-based combat does a good job of keeping you on the edge of your seat, even if if the loot doesn't. A particularly cool addition is the jetpack. All classes have a jetpack which can be used for a short period of time, using up a characater's power - the sci-fi equivalent of mana - which puts a limit on flying around all the time. Your weapons also use the same power source, forcing you to think carefully about when and where to fire up your jetpack. Landing with no power in the line of enemy fire is guaranteed to immediately strip you of any kudos earned by a skillfully executed jetpack traversing of the map.
The combat itself is pitched somewhere between Phantasy Star Online - with its four-player sci-fi edge - and Team Fortress 2. A good example is the Assault class which is the tank of the game. With heavy armour and a huge minigun that could well be a descendant of the Heavy's precious Sasha. The Assault class has some personal shield skills helping him take punishment on the front lines too.
What class is the cream on the heavy weapon guy's chocolate pudding? The Medic. The primary healing weapon of the medic class in Global Agenda works in much the same way as the one in Team Fortress 2. Healing is applied to your target from a constant energy beam while the medic himself benefits from health points over time too. Being more of a general healer than the crazy German doctor, the Medic in Global Agenda also has area-of-effect heals which keep make for a more dynamic healing experience.
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The engineer of the group is the Robotics class. He can drop turrets, combat drones, mines and shields. Sadly, he doesn't have a large wrench to bludgeon foes with, but with the robotic arm protruding from his backpack makes up for it. Finally, the Recon guy is the rogue class of the game. He's paper-thin, super-fast and deals plenty of damage. A stealth skill ensures that the Recon guy can get in amongst the action, dish out pwnage and then turn into a translucent grid that attacks pas straight through so he can get out of the melee in one, semi-solid piece. This does inevitably cause a lot of 'Leeeerooooying' and make them hard to heal, but a good Recon is a welcome addition to a team.
Each class can be developed to make them better at specific roles, or more of a generalist though, as ever, the former is preferable for the best results. As there are no substantial loot drops in the game, all of the weapons available to your class exist already in the the equipment screen and become unlocked as your character progresses. Equipping weapons will cost you device points and you only have a certain amount to use up so you can't equip all the best kit that's available to you. Each weapon is available in MK I, II, III, or IV variants. The higher a weapon's MK, the more device points it will cost you. This adds another level of character customisation. If you're a medic for example and you want to get in on the damage-dealing action then you could spend additional device points on a MK IV poison gun and maybe opt for a MK I healing beam. As well as providing an additional development path to the WoW-like skill tree, it's one that can be chopped and changed prior to any mission, a touch that adds diversity to your character customisability.