Shooter Gone Global
Heading into Global Agenda, I was a bit worried about the experience of which I was about to partake. Rather than taking the best from tried-and-true genres, hybrid games are typically too ambitious and miss the plot by concentrating on the prose. This isn’t the case here, however. Global Agenda does a nice job of incorporating MMO, RPG, and shooter elements into a persistent world, tactical shooter that fans of any of these genres will likely enjoy. That being said, the game is by no means perfect; it will require continued support from the developer and the community to make its appeal last.
Though Global Agenda (GA) carries with it the MMO and RPG monikers, don’t let that persuade or dissuade you; this is not WoW or EverQuest. It does, however, incorporate tropes from big MMOs and RPGs that make it feel as if it were one of them. For example, GA allows you to create up to eight characters from four different class types (Assault, Medic, Robotics, and Recon). These characters will gain levels through experience, acquire new skills and abilities, gain access to more equipment and options, and can be customized through the acquisition of dyes, armament, crafting, flair, etc. This all combines to make ‘questing’ in GA a bit more compelling, but, unlike MMORPGs, grinding to attain a higher level isn’t necessary to truly enjoy the game. Actually, whether you’re a level 10 or a level 27, you’ll be able to participate in the PvP and PvE portions of the game without dealing with insurmountable disparities between characters.
That’s because, at its core, Global Agenda is a third-person shooter that relies on individual skill as well as cooperative tactics rather than the amount of hours you’ve put into grinding. At the outset, players will be given a reservoir of device points that give you immediate access to important and effective powers, abilities, and weapons; powers, abilities, and weapons you’ll still be using at higher levels of play, not because you are constrained by a particular path of character progression (in fact, you can change out skill paths, essentially revamping a character concept, at anytime between missions), but because they are simply practical elements of which you’ll continually make use.
In terms of the shooter aspect, the third-person view lends itself nicely to a run-and-gun experience. If you’re looking for über-precise sniping and a quality cover mechanic, though, you won’t find it here. What GA does offer is tactical team play, backed by four quality classes, that makes the fast-paced, often frantic gameplay quite fun. While individual players can definitely make an impact whilst playing against the bots of PvE or against the other gamers in PvP modes, the game plays best when squad-mates work together.
Whether playing as a Medic, Robotic, Recon, or Assault character, you’ll have a role to fulfill on the battlefield. Medics are amazing healers that also provide boons to their team. Additionally, poison abilities can be learned that also make them able to hold their own in combat. The Robotic is a controller that can set up turrets, shields, and even med stations to support their squad and give them a tactical advantage. Recon characters are stealthy ninjas and snipers that can move in close for deadly backstab, melee attacks, cover their tracks with traps, or take out baddies at range. Finally, the Assault class is made up of combat specialists that take the fight to enemies with heavy weapons and massive damage resistances. If you fulfill your role and travel around in cohesive packs, there’s almost no enemy that can stop you. Though each role has a weakness, working in unison makes particular classes much stronger.
All this working together makes both the PvE and PvP sides of the game very enjoyable. In PvE, there are a number of ‘missions’ on short ‘maps’ that you’ll plow through, much like dungeon-crawling in an RPG, in groups of four. These levels are filled with minions, under-bosses, and checkpoints, culminating in a challenging, arena-style boss battle. In addition to clearing out all the baddies, you’ll have to do so in a time limit or else you’ll fail. There are several difficulty levels from which to choose, resulting in better experience rewards and even credits (used for customization) if you’re team successfully completes the Challenge component of the mission (not exceeding the death limit). PvE is not only progressively more challenging, it will help you get the hang of your class and working with others. This is very important for the PvP portion of the game. Large-scale battles on varied maps with several different objective types accentuate team play and offer stiff competition. PvP battles also offer distinct gameplay that keeps the entire experience fresh; I found myself bopping between PvE and PvP regularly.
There are a couple issues with matching, however. For starters, you’ll often be put into an interminable queue, essentially being unable to enter a game. I frequently had to leave the queue and re-request entrance in order to be matched up quickly. Also, teams, both in PvE and PvP, are often unbalanced. As I mentioned, team work is crucial, and you can only be truly efficient if you have a nice mix of roles in a squad. Oftentimes, you’ll be paired, or even quadrupled up, with the same character classes. This makes it difficult to meet the mission objective or dominate the other side (the opposite is also true: you can definitely be too powerful, especially in PvP). Worse still, if there are too many characters of the same role, other players can steal your thunder.
All the PvE and PvP content is included with the purchase of Global Agenda. For those players that want more out of the title, there is also Conquest. In order to get access to Conquest, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee that is competitive with other MMOs. Conquest is a mode that has you join a particular Agency (i.e. Guild) and participate in PvP matches that have persistent world consequences. Rather than just fighting, you’ll team up with other Agencies and form Alliances for global control of territory. Your territories can be reinforced by purchasing facilities and upgrades that make it more difficult to invade or easier from which to spearhead attacks. Conquest provides players with a strategic and political metagame along with an increased sense of camaraderie that the PvE and PvP portions simply don’t offer.
The Conquest mode is definitely an appealing aspect of the game; one that will likely draw players into paying the monthly fee. That being said, it’s a shame players who purchase the game don’t get more then trial access to it. I’ve got a feeling that most players will soon tire of the PvE and PvP battles and find the fee to be too steep to pay month after month. In truth, there probably isn’t enough content out of the box to keep players into the game long enough. Perhaps this can be allayed if new classes, more maps, varied mission types, etc. are introduced for free, or for a one-time expansion fee, to all players. If only the paying participants are given continued support, I don’t expect the Global Agenda community to thrive for very long at all.
Controls in GA are not perfect, but they are more than sufficient. Some of the default button-mapping, for instance, is not ideal. The use of abilities and devices is dependent upon pressing the right key in a timely manner, and reaching up into the number keys is not quick enough. Fortunately, you’ll be able to customize the skill mapping to your liking, making access to things such as the jetpack (crucial for getting in and out of fights quickly) far more accessible. Still, don’t expect inch-perfect control.
The sights and sounds of Global Agenda are pretty lackluster, if not unbearable. The maps, enemy and character designs, and even power animations are all fairly uninspired, though they get the job done. Thankfully, GA is a surprisingly stable, marginally-taxing game that will allow even gamers with moderate PCs to join in on the fun. Still, while it’s not toe-ugly, it isn’t a game you’ll want to take to the prom. Worse is the music and voice acting in the game. The background themes aren’t bad; they’re simply phoned-in generic. The voice-work of the NPCs in Dome City, on the other hand, is just plain awful. Fortunately, solid effects make weapons and power usage satisfying.
Global Agenda isn’t an excellent game, but there is a lot of co-op and competitive fun to be had. In fact, the overwhelming vibe from current players is quite upbeat. Still, there’s not enough content included with its purchase to keep you playing for months on end; you’ll have to pony up the monthly fee for the Conquest mode to get any lasting appeal. Hopefully this won’t destroy the title, but I’ve got a feeling it is going to quickly chip away at the vibrant community of players that currently exists unless significant after-purchase support (e.g. new classes, more maps, new city hub) is included gratis.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
This game won’t win any awards, but the visuals are serviceable and allow for many gamers to participate in spite of weak rig specs. 3.5 Control
Fast and loose third-person shooting is fun, but activating more complex strategies and abilities can be too slow for the action around you. 2.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sonic presentation is barely good enough to support gameplay. 3.8 Play Value
PvE, PvP, and Conquest modes offer players a lot to love. Unfortunately, Conquest is only available for an additional monthly fee and the run-and-gun fights of PvE and PvP will only hold your attention for so long. 3.6 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.