|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Hi-Rez Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Hi-Rez Studios||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 12, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: MMO||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Andrew Groen
There have been many challengers to the throne of World of Warcraft over the past five years, Global Agenda just happens to be the most recent. When it released in February, it was a middling attempt, but few people truthfully expected this Sci-Fi MMO experience to gain any sort of notable traction. Even fewer people (read: approximately zero) thought it had a chance to dethrone the unquestioned king of the genre. Unsurprisingly, as the masses predicted, none of this came to pass.
It released to minor praise and became little more than a blip on most people's radars before fading into the darkness for the next six months. Now, Hi-Rez Studios has released a massive new content pack, titled Global Agenda: Sandstorm, which it hopes will revitalize their ailing product. The million dollar question is whether or not it has the chops to succeed.
In short, no, this game will not be the next big thing. Truthfully, it will most likely struggle to maintain even a small fan base for the rest of its days. However, as we've seen with the inimitable EVE Online, that can be a viable business model as well. But, just as with EVE, popularity is not always a perfect indicator of quality. Many MMOs have come and gone in the last five years that were better than World of Warcraft.
However, Global Agenda can't really make claim to that distinction either. It's certainly on the same level as WoW, but it doesn't surpass it in many meaningful ways. Even its beautiful graphics engine is rivaled by the new content of the reigning king. But, Global Agenda: Sandstorm does have a few things that WoW can only dream about, jet packs. Not just jet packs but real-time combat infused with jet packs. This is undoubtedly the greatest strength of Global Agenda, but this is nothing new and has been around since the game's launch. At its heart, Global Agenda is a pretty good open-world, third-person shooter, but nothing that will stack up to the champions of that genre like Red Faction: Guerrilla and Saints Row 2. Sandstorm's new open-world questing environments are a great asset for this combat system, and it's much more satisfying to use the full-fledged combat system in an expansive environment. Even just using the jet pack to leap through the environment from one quest to another is fun.
Moreover, the open-world questing has finally helped Global Agenda reach its full potential. It had an expansive system of moving around, but only now does the game allow you to get around the way it was intended. However, some of the classes are starting to feel aged in the new environments. For instance, the Robotics class still feels like it was designed to succeed in close quarters and feels almost useless in large open areas. After all, what good are its awesome turrets if you're moving out of its range in one tenth the time it takes to actually build the thing. By contrast, the Assault class feels better than ever, but melee, in general, just isn't at home in an open environment.
In comparison to other MMOs, Global Agenda has some of the best combat around. Rather than walking up to a creature in WoW, pressing attack and waiting for it to die, Global Agenda forces you to react and manage every battle. It's vastly more entertaining on a fight by fight basis.
Unfortunately, WoW has taught us that combat and thrilling gameplay are not the number one things on an MMO shopper's list. Far more important to them are usability and large communities. Neither of these two things are Global Agenda's specialty. After about eight hours of gameplay, there were still aspects of the game I didn't even know existed, not because it is so extremely vast that I simply hadn't reach it, but because I had just not been curious enough, and the game never pointed it out to me.