MMOs are a popular genre; there are literally thousands of titles played by millions of player every single day. While the number of MMOs is huge their genre is not. The large majority are all based in a fantasy setting, but what if you'd rather be fighting cyborgs then orcs? What if your kind of story involves espionage and not magic? What if you'd rather wield a powerful blaster than a magical flaming sword? If science fiction is what gets you going there are not many options. Luckily there are a few one can play. One such Sci-Fi themed MMO is Global Agenda.
Global Agenda provided 4 different character classes:
Robotics is an engineering class, this class allows a player to deploy a range of equipment like turrets, drones, shields and stations. This class is probably the most complicated to play as it does require some planning. Deploying a turret takes a certain amount of time and definitely cannot safely be done during combat; same though to a lesser extend goes for stations (AOE Player healing, damage Buff and turret heal). Once deployed, they offer a great advantage however.
Medic is as one would expect a support class, unlike a normal medic however the one is Global Agenda didn't take his Hippocratic Oath as in addition to healing a medic can also use poison on enemies which stuns them for a while making them easy targets. A variety of weapons and devices are available to the medic to accomplish his task. Here medic will need to decide which of these to carry. A setup can be geared towards maximum healing, maximum damage or a mix of both. Devices available are guns that heal target and the medic himself though biofeedback, poison delivery systems and even cool gadgets like the healing grenade which explodes microscopic nanites in areas that target and heal friendly unit’s overtime.
Recon class is a stealth based class, this class can be played in different ways, either exploit your stealth capabilities to get to a vantage point and snipe your enemies, use the stealth to get up close and personal before dealing devastating melee attack on unsuspecting victims or simply deploy devastating bombs that will wreck havoc on an enemy robotics turret and station position. Stealth is a really good advantage for a Recon whoever it is not absolute; a robotics agent can deploy sensor station that will reveal your position to him and even worse his devastating turrets.
Character customization is adequate; you get to select different features from presets which can make for a huge number of combinations. Ultimately it doesn't matter much however as with all the power armor and helms you'll get to wear the customizations you make to the character are not that important. That being said, players who love customization might be happy to know that it is also possible to customize said armor as well.
Assault class is as one would expect is a class designed to be in the hearth of the combat. An Assault agent can focus on being a tank at the expense of damage dealing or he can focus all out damage against mechanical structures such as robotics turrets and stations or alternatively he can focus on massive damage to players themselves instead.
The game itself looks amazing. The game uses the unreal 3 engine and it uses it very well. The game supports either DirectX 9 mode or DirectX 10 and offers advanced eye-candy options such as Ambient Occlusion. The world is very believable and the graphics is not what one would expect from an MMO. The game starts out with you being liberated from inside a vat in a commonwealth facility, unfortunately your liberators didn't survive the ordeal and it will be entirely up to you to escape from the commonwealth. Not all is bad though as soon after you're freed a remote agent with the resistance who was in contact with your liberators gets in touch with you and helps you escape. Her guidance and your escape is the perfect setting for the tutorial which not only introduces you to the game but also jump starts the story.
Global Agenda is not your regular MMO either; it’s more like a hybrid between an MMO and a Multi player Shooter. The game has three distinct play modes so to speak. You can either enjoy the main story line doing quests either alone or with a party. Join in instanced PVP and PVE missions or if you're part of an agency (guild) that is in an Alliance there is a Alliance vs. Alliance global domination game mode.
The game has in fact itself evolved since its initial release. Originally the game seemed to be more focus as a normal multilayer shooter with an optional persistent component introduced by Alliance versus Alliance Combat available with an optional subscription. Later on the subscription idea was dropped and the game was evolve into a more MMO style Free to Play game (the game still need to be bought however unlike most Free to Play games) This move was executed in the latest game update called Sandstorm which also introduced the standard MMO story base play mode by in introducing a new open zone game area the Sonoran Desert.
The regular MMO play mode is extremely good. The story is engaging and revolves around you trying to find a cure for a serum the commonwealth inject in you while you were in your personal little vat. Quests are varied from the classic kill 10 droids and get me their processors to assisting the AI of a long dormant base activating all its sub system to stopping a group of droids building a hive system and achieving awareness. Teaming up with other players can make the experience even more fun as you can help each other and achieve the objectives faster. The game is quite lethal and one can expect to die often, luckily there is no death penalty beyond your having to walk back to your objective. Walking to your objective might also not be the right phrase for it as like other MMOs have mounts players in Global Agenda have a jetpack. The jetpack is really fun and allows for more tactical options approaching your target. While the story mode is truly a great experience it is unfortunately quite short. It can be completed in a matter of around 20 hours however one must keep in mind the whole MMO story mode is a new direction for the game and is relatively young as it was released at the end of July 2010 with the sandstorm update. I am quite hopeful we can expect more story content as more updates are released.
The instanced PVP and PVE missions are another game mode for Global Agenda. Some missions and play styles (such as doing them solo) are level locked giving you an incentive to play more missions to unlock the next options. Additionally missions provide XP, credits and loot for participation and winning. PVE missions range from solo to 10 player instances. PVP missions are either 4vs4 or 10vs10. Initially I though this is a little restrictive however combat in Global Agenda is very fast paced and after playing a while I realized that more then 10vs10 would cause a lot of chaos and disorientation on the battlefield. One must also keep in mind that Global Agenda is a very tactical game. The game offers a lot of combat options each with their own strengths and weaknesses and one must think really fast and adapt to the developing situation and believe me its already incredibly hard to do that when facing 10 opponents. In conclusion 10 opponents might sound small especially to MMO fans that might be used to huge wars between guilds but it is in fact an optimum number in my opinion.
The latest game mode is Alliance Vs Alliance. (AvsA) In a way this is a game on its own. Here there is a map of the world split into hexagonal areas. Each hexagonal area is called a zone and is open at certain times a day only so that alliances do not have to worry about a zone 24/7. if a zone is unclaimed an agency can bid for that zone. The winner gets the zone. Once you get the zone the agency can start deploying structures in them in order to defend and manage it. If a zone is claimed one can launch an assault on it. For this a strike force is required. A strike force is a team of no less than 8 players. A strike force also needs equipment with a drop-ship being the bare minimum. Unlike other play modes AvsA game mode requires player to get all equipment with them including the re-spawn beacons themselves. These can be bought or build through crafting. Equipment is also persistent so if you take a mech on a mission if it is destroyed its gone but if it survives the mission then it will be available again on the next fight. Agencies can build buildings on owned zones these builds consist of:
Mining facilities, labs, Factories, Missile facilities, HQ and defense Facilities
Global Agenda also offers an extensive crafting system. These systems works on two levels, the player level and the Agency level where Players can use blue prints and loot from mission to manufacture Mods which can then be applied to weapon, armor or even equipment. There are 3 levels of Mods that can be manufactured, uncomment, rare and elite. Manufacturing higher level equipment requires the skill level and the blueprint for that level. There is also a crafting system for Agencies. Agencies owning zones and the right builds can create blueprints and manufacture various items like Mechs and siege weapons.
Additionally another feature Global Agenda offers that is worth mentioning is an integrated voice chat that can be used in missions.
When Global Agenda was initially released at the beginning of this year it was easy to justify the purchase but some might have been taken a little back by the subscription require for the Alliance vs Alliance warfare. Since then the game has evolved a lot. In July with the release of sandstorm the game changed drastically and become more like a traditional MMO. This was in my opinion a brilliant move. Additionally the Subscription model was dropped and now everyone can enjoy all the game has to offer for just the price of the game itself. This game offers a lot of things in a single package. You get a solid tactical shooter, an MMO as well as a strategic element in the Alliance vs Alliance system. Best of all you get a really fun game that forces you to think and think quickly! The developers have also shown they care about the game and in less then 6 months from release they expanded the game and changed in drastically in a good way. This shows commitment on their part thus one can rest easy more good stuff will come our way as more updates are released.
If you like science fiction, shooters and MMOs, this game is probably your best option. If you are mostly looking for an MMO with a long story line the 20 hours length the game offers right now might be a bit of a turn off however one must keep in mind the game will cost less than 3 months subscription other games charge and as the game evolves more content will be released. Additionally the alliance vs. alliance warfare is in a way a mechanism in which players create their own story, with alliances, betrayals and war. If you are still undecided give the game a try and check out for yourself if the game is for you or not