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I Spy a Hail of Gunfire… Global Agenda [Review]

GAlogoWhat 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.

Gameplay

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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.

Classes

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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.

Assault

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.

Recon

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.

Medic

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.

Robotics

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

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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.

PvP

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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.

Style

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.

Everything Else

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.]

Comments

  • ApeGrail

    How much did they pay you. There is nothing about Global Agenda that is an MMO. It is a meere marketing ploy and excuse to accrue monthly payments from any unwitting customers that think the gameplay is good(which it is.)

    But it is in no form or fashion an MMORPG any more than role-playing in an IRC chatroom is.

    • nou

      ApeGrail has apparently never played this, or even read anything about it (or even this article, which already addresses the point I’m about to restate). Please shut up.

      The MMO part comes in with Agency vs Agency (Conquest). This is a RISK-like ‘overgame’, in which you attack and defend areas on a grid to conquer as much as possible. Each attack and defense phase is essentially a PvP round. These grids, though you never actually wander around them with your toon, are what makes the game ‘massively multiplayer’.

    • http://www.orangeblueclan.com/ Recon415

      Let me check to see what MMO means… Ah, “Massively, Multiplayer, Online”

      Is Global Agenda on a large single server? Massively, check.

      Do you play with others in Global Agenda? Multiplayer, check.

      Do you use the internet to do this? Online, check.

      I don’t see “role-playing” in there anywhere.

      • Its not as good as they say

        they never called it an MMORPG… they called it an MMOFPS… still, its not one of those either since its 3rd person

  • Its not as good as they say

    Alliance vs Alliance is not as good as they make out. ive had this game since the preorder, and TBH i dont enjoy it much. The AvA is just a clone of the normal PvP with a few more options. I dont know where you got the idea of “risk” from, all you loose if you fail at AvA is a little hexagon – your character isnt effected in anyway, hell, if you loose alot, you can just change agency. The persistant world thing is also a priddy poor excuse for calling it and MMO. the pitiful ava, 10 vs 10, gameplay is hardly massivly multiplayer. If that is your definition of an MMO you can call any game that has a highscores system for its player groups an MMO. the open world city is annoying, and just slows you down. The combat is the bastard off-spring of two genres – not sure if it wants to be skill based or number based, and has done a poor job of both. for example, there is the sniper rifle from world of FPS , but no headshots and, you wont belive this, the snipers shots have what i can describe as casting time! after you press to shoot, there is a half second delay before firing – not much, but coupled with bullet travel time and the 3 hits neaded for one kill, the sniper is rendered useless for long range – think of the huntsman bow in tf2. and other players are so resistant to dammage, like in an MMO, that you are unlikely to get very many kills per game. this would be ok, if all your hard work getting somone down to low health in a one on one couldnt be ruined by a few seconds of attention from a passing medic – which incidently are stronger than recons in all out combat. The graphics are also nothing special… “but its stylised” i hear people bleat – maybe. But if your going to stylise it, make sure the style looks good, like TF2, not this kind of mock realism, that just makes it look like they have failed to make a realistic game.Honestly. I fail to see anything in this game that hasn’t been done better elsewhere. This is the Frankenstein of multilayer gaming. That said, people who like the MMO genre but want somthing more could enjoy it. but if your like me and hail from the fast paced FPS genre and want that adrenal rush from pulling off a skilled kill, give it a miss, or you will probably be wondering why you paid money for it. this is just my opinion. if you like if, G4U, but don’t bother flaming me. I know that I am not the only one dissapointed in this game.

    • alex

      ok, but i really think you have had a ruff day. this game has an unreal 3 engine (same engine in most modern games today, witch real critics call “stunning” and i can tell you for a fact that they are better than WoW) true, it takes quiet a while to get a kill, but that is the fun part! the game isn’t like modern warfare and get shot once and ur dead. that just isn’t this game. and the 10v10 is just enough to make it simple and no chaotic. the classes are balanced and fun… and you have this mmorpg thing wrong, and it’s not a mmofpg ethier. it’s an mmo3pg :) so just to let you know, this game is so unique this game has it’s own catagorie. :]

  • Drued

    Its not as good as they say’s response seems to be heavily influenced by his inability to aim with a sniper rifle. There is no cast time on it, you have to lead your shots as in most shooting games. It’s an MMO by definition, perhaps not your personal definition, but it is. The game does suffer from the inability to select mission types, but that has been promised to be fixed in a patch this month.

  • http://underdogreviews.blogspot.com/ KrazyKAin

    I’m amazed at the amount of haters in the comments.. this article was very fair, and i’d have to agree with it. but i suppose it probably should have mentioned the lack of choosing pvp and friends lists… ALTHOUGH these are both promised by the end of February.

    ah well, guess the hate shouldnt surprise me.. every non mainstream game is going to have mainstream gamers pick on it

    • http://underdogreviews.blogspot.com/ KrazyKAin

      oh, and nobody can call the ‘mmo’ part a marketing ploy because in all interviews and on the website they clearly state it’s all about 10 man striketeams.. they never suggested otherwise

      • FITS

        This game is not good enough for charging a monthly fee. I’ve played MMO’s for well over a decade as well as playing simple online FPS with no monthley fee, this game isn’t as good as any game I’ve ever played. I really like the idea of an MMO shooter and have been awaiting the relaese of this game since I heard about it years ago. Planetside is much better in the MMO department with full scale battles. The fact that battles are limited to 10 players is extremely weak, play most FPS with free internet play and you can enjoy maps with sizes up to 32 players. and most MMO’s being relaesed now make room for more than 10 player instanced play, so this fails in both departments.
        Sorry but if I’m going to pay to play it has to be a heck of a lot better than this.

    • alex

      @FITS

      This game is free coming right ot of the box. sure you have to buy it from retail but this game will definatly change over the year. This Game is only a month old! give it a break! WoW wasn’t perfect at first ethier! they are trying very hard to keep this game free ( with an OPTIONAL membership ) right out of the box. Although, i Wouldn’t exactly pay $12 right now for how much content they have on the optional membership right now, but maybe when it is older, fixes most of the insainly tiny bugs, add more content, and get more players, i will definatly pay to play this amasing game.

  • Pingback: Unlimited Free Trial for Global Agenda? Yes Please. | DIYgamer

  • Adaactar

    lol i love this game, sure its not as fast paced as modern warefare ect, but playing as recon still gives you the same old thrill when you get spotted and have to run for your life.

  • http://none Sosick

    It’s all based off of opinion. Yes it is considered an MMO, no, not everyone is going to like it. Just because this guy likes it doesn’t mean everyone else will. so it doesnt mean he was paid off douche bag