What constitutes an MMO these days? Some argue that an MMO truly has to be of a massive multiplayer experience, i.e. World of Warcraft or EVE Online, others, like me, simply believe that any game that is persistent — continuous character, “living” in non combat zones, buying/selling/interacting with environment — is what makes an MMO, even if they don’t necessarily support 2000 players at the same time in the same zone. Global Agenda does not and yet I’ll still argue that Global Agenda is an MMORPG just for the sake of genre comparison.
Anyways, now that that is out of the way let’s get to the nitty-gritty. First, I’ll lay out some disclaimers: Like with most MMOs, Global Agenda is a large game. I was not able to play everything the game had to offer or level every class up to its height. So please think of this as a sort of “on-going” review that I’ll add to as I play it over the next few months. Additionally, some may not see Global Agenda as an “indie game” necessarily. However, I have personally contacted the devs about this and they assured me that they are independent as laid out by our own guidelines. They are a larger indie developer, but funding, etc. was all independent from the big time game companies and VC firms.
Second, with this review being an MMO, I’m going to deviate from our traditional review standard of “Gameplay, Story, Style, Everything Else”. Everything will still be just as easy to find and read about along with the red/blue text for negative/positive comments, however for an MMO I did not feel like the traditional model would fit inside those four categories. There’s simply too much to talk about. As such, I’m adding a few more that will make it easier to find exactly what people are looking for/interested in.
Finally, before we get to the actual review, for those that don’t yet know what Global Agenda is: Global Agenda is a spy-based MMO that takes place in the future where all of humanity (or most of it) is under control of an evil dictatorship called the “Commonwealth”. In this dystopian future wars are not fought with armies, but rather small squads of elite agents to gain valuable resources. You are one of these agents. From there you can participate in PvE missions and PVP gameplay to level your character etc. But more on that later. Needless to say, Global Agenda is a different sort of MMO than you’d expect, but the flip side is that it’s actually a breath of fresh air from all the MMOs I’ve played.
Global Agenda is by far one of the most refreshing MMOs I’ve ever played. And I’m not biased because it’s an indie effort either. It can honestly go toe-to-toe, with any mainstream MMO out there and give it a serious run for it’s money. The moment you boot up the game and play the introductory sequence you’ll understand what I mean. With GA you aren’t playing another WoW-clone, nor are you falling to the traditional MMO methods of doing things, you are playing something that’s very unique to the MMO world.
To further expand on my previous thoughts, Global Agenda is a shooter trapped in an MMO’s body. MMO-haters take heart in knowing that your character isn’t all stats and numbers, there’s real twitch-based skill required in this game to win. While some may be turned off by this, I feel like it’s absolutely a great thing amongst the swathes of generic, number-based MMOs out there today.
Additionally, to make things even more interesting, each class plays very differently (more on class specifics later). Each has their own play style, weapons, armor, etc. I’d liken the class system to the way Team Fortress 2 was laid out. Each class has a clear identity and there’s very little overlay in what classes can do. Although with Global Agenda there are only four classes not eight.
Each class comes with it’s own skill tree that allows you to specialize in exactly what you want to do. While I didn’t get to experience much of this on the other classes, the Medic, for example, got to choose between healing and poison as their specific class spec. It’s almost exactly what you’d expect if you ever played WoW or the Diablo games, the primary difference being that all classes share a similar tree called: balance which upgrades neutral items like your jetpack.
One of the best things I never would have imagined in the game is the unique way the game handles your weapon/item utilization. With your character, at all times, are eight items/weapons. Your melee, ranged, class-specific weapon/utility, jetpack, three class-specific gadgets, and a class specific “boost”. What makes this so unique is that you can only use one at a time. There’s no such thing as a jetpack-flying sniper in Global Agenda and that, dear readers, makes GA so much better than you could possibly imagine.
Finally, two words: JET PACK.
As stated above, Global Agenda has four very different classes: Assault, Recon, Medic, and Robotic. Each class plays very differently from the other. The assault is the “heavy weapons” guy of the group. You like fire power? He’s/she’s your man/woman. Prefer to play a stealthier, faster, more spy-like character? Recon. Healers will feel right at home with the Medic, of course. And for those of you who enjoy building your own gadgets, laying turrets and force fields, look no further than Robotic.
The Assault Class is your standard infantry unit. He is the first one in the door when the fighting’s the hardest and he’ll probably be the last one dead should things take a turn for the worse due to his heavy armor and high health. Anybody who enjoys big guns (chain gun, missile launcher, etc.) will feel right at home with the Assault Class. For lack of a better word I’ll coin the old MMORPG reference: the Assault Class is the “tank”.
That said, in my limited experience with the Assault Class, I actually found the class to be the weakest in terms variety. With the other three classes you have a specific goal/skill set that you can employ in your missions. With the Assault Class you do one thing: shoot. You shoot, shoot some more, and then when everything is dead… well you still shoot. It felt to me like the Assault class was left out in the cold when the other classes were getting assigned all the cool skills. But if you really, really enjoy shooting things then, hey… there’s no going wrong with the Assault Class.
The Recon Class is the fast, stealthy character of the group. Players who enjoy not being seen, using mines/traps, and generally controlling their enemies will definitely feel right at home with the Recon Class. Additionally, those players who enjoy using melee weapons more often than not, should also look at the Recon Class. As a Recon, you’re at your best when you’re right on top of somebody swing your sword around.
Personally, of the combat-oriented classes, I found the Recon to be the most diverse and most fun. They have a unique stealth item that cloaks them but also makes them run slightly faster so you can catch up to fleeing opponents.
Additionally they just seem to be the fastest paced class of the game. What I mean by that is, with the Recon class, you’ll be moving around a lot more and focusing on your surroundings a lot more. There just seems to be more depth in the class than the other classes. I haven’t played the class beyond the first 10 levels or so as of yet but in the early stages of the game that was my impression.
This was my class. I’m always a healer in almost every MMO I play and Global Agenda was no different. As such, you can expect a bit more “review” for the Medic than the other classes.
The Medic, as you’d expect, is the healer class of the game. That’s not to say they are some “namby-pamby” class, however, as they are loaded with their own unique skills that can either be used to heal your friends or devastate your opponents.
Healing with the medic is similar to that of the Team Fortress 2 Doctor class. You have a gun that shoots a continuous stream of “heal” towards whatever player you’re aiming at. This, in turn, redirects a small amount of healing your way (provided you’re using the correct healing gun) so that you may get healed at the same time as healing your friends. Additionally, the healer class comes with a host of other gadgets that make life easier. For example, there is a healing grenade that you can throw to a group of friends that aren’t nearby which will AoE heal them. It’s a nice system that livens up the healing factor while still keeping the class essential to the game.
For those who’d rather focus on being a non-healing medic there is a whole skill tree specifically set aside for “poison” effects. I didn’t personally delve too far into this skill tree, but for those of you out there who love DoTs and debuffs, this is the place for you. I personally found the Medic class a bit “wanting” in the damage department, but again, I was specced for healing not poison. I really can’t say if the damage output is significantly better than a healing medic.
One thing that did bug me about the Medic was that the healing stream seemed to get confused easily. If you’re near two friendlies and your attempting to heal one and then they cross over each other really quick it seemed like the healing stream would either stop entirely or get permanently stuck on one of the characters. Even if you were faced in a completely different direction the beam would stay attached to that one player.
The Robotics Class, as many would suspect, is the “engineer” of the group. If you at all enjoy building your own gadgets, laying down turrets, or setting up force fields/healing arrays then this class is definitely for you. Aside from even that, however, the Robotics Class seems fairly adept at combat as well able to deal a great amount of damage even without his gadgets.
I don’t really have too much to say about the Robotics class. I wasn’t able to level him as much as I wanted as of the day this review goes live. However, I can say that the Robotics class feels the most “diverse” of all the other classes. He can deal damage on his own, he can build turrets to help him, he can lay out protective devices like force fields and healing arrays. He just seems to be the most balanced class of the group.
PvE in Global Agenda is unique. Each mission is an instanced area in the game and each mission varies in difficulty depending on whether you choose low, medium, high, or maximum security. There’s also another PvE mission called Double Agent, but I wasn’t able to experience that. In all honesty, GA’s PvE is the “weakest link” so to say. There’s just not enough variety in the missions available and what is there gets fairly old pretty fast.
Each mission starts out the same way. Your a four-man team and you must battle your way to the objective and defeat the boss. While there may only be four “grades” for missions, each grade (low, medium , etc) comes with a variety of missions within so as to not make the missions completely exact. That said, there are only a few missions for each grade meaning that after a few rounds you’ve basically seen all you can possibly see.
Additionally, Hi-Rez Studios did not include any way to pick or choose what missions you want to do within your grade. It’s the luck of the draw and believe me when I say that there are some less desirable missions out there.
The one seemingly saving grace of the PvE experience is the “Double Agent” missions. Now, I haven’t got a chance to play them yet as you need to be a higher level, but apparently its a mission type where 6 players go in for a mission, but two are actually double agents working for the enemy. I have no idea how this plays out yet, but the mere idea of that type of gameplay really makes me want to push through to the end.
As many would have already expected, what Global Agenda lacks in PvE it more than makes up for in PvP. Global Agenda ships with 6 different types of PvP modes. Plus, for those of you who are big TF2 fans, GA actually shares some of the same game modes like attack/defend and pushing an object through a level to an end goal. Needless to say, there’s enough variety here to make most PvP enthusiasts excited. The fact that these modes also exist in a persistent world make the game all the more sweet.
Additionally, let’s not forget that this game’s gameplay mechanics are almost tailor-made for a PvP experience. Sure it’s fun to use your badass weapons on mindless robots from the PvE levels, but it’s even better using them on other players.
The games fast pace and twitch-based gameplay also make the PvP accessible from the start of the game. No longer will you need to level up to the “level 20 bracket” to participate in PvP with a bunch of other level 20 somethings. This game throws you right into the mix and, believe it or not, even as a newcomer you’re still liable to knock a few heads around if your at all good with shooters.
The one mode that I have yet to experience, and one that I can’t wait to experience, is the game’s Conquest mode. This is the part of the game that allows for alliance vs. alliance gameplay, base raiding, and world domination. This is where the “real” MMO begins in Global Agenda. The only negative part is that, in order to take part in this mode, you have to be actively apart of an alliance of which I’m not a part of yet. Still though, the prospect of this makes me will probably keep me a paying subscriber long after my free month is over.
Global Agenda has a good look and feel going for it. It’s not the most graphically pleasing title out there, but it still looks good. In fact there’s little I can say that’s bad about the game in terms of its graphical prowess. It looks good, runs smooth, and never seems bogged down by graphical hitches. What more can you want?
Additionally, the audio in the game is equally as good. There’s some minor voice acting going on, of which all sounds decent to me. The music is alright, maybe a bit forgettable, but beyond that it suited the game just fine. No complaints.
Global Agenda is by far one of the most polished MMO’s I have ever seen on release. I haven’t played every MMO and certainly not every MMO as soon as they were released. However the going logic for MMO gamers is to wait 6 months after the release to settle all the bugs. Global Agenda looks and works great right out of the gate. I honestly couldn’t find anything major wrong with it. There was some minor lag issues, bu it’s really hard to say if that was from the game or just a minor hiccup in my own internet connection.
Two MMOs were released earlier this month — Global Agenda and Star Trek Online — and I acquired both of them. When I got both of them I knew fully well that neither my time, nor my money would allow me to carry two MMOs beyond the month of February. While I fully expected I’d be sticking with Star Trek Online for the long haul, I’m pleasantly surprised to say that I will, in fact, be ditching Star Trek Online in favor of a Global Agenda optional subscription. The game is too good to pass up and I’m simply having too much fun with it. Sure, not everything is as good as it could be, and there’s a lot more work required — specifically on the PvE side of things — but I can honestly say that Global Agenda has provided me with a more lasting experience than STO and it’s absolutely not something I want to stop playing.
Did I miss something in my review? Want to add something? Feel free to leave it in the comments! We read em all!
[Hi-Rez Studios gave DIYgamer.com a copy of Global Agenda for review purposes. This, in no way, affected the outcome of the review. The monthly subscription was bought and paid for by Geoff Gibson. Neither DIYgamer.com nor Hi-Rez paid for the subscription.]