Global Agenda: Sandstorm Review for PC

Global Agenda: Sandstorm Review for PC

Stuck in a Sandstorm

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.

Global Agenda: Sandstorm screenshot

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.

Global Agenda: Sandstorm screenshot

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.

Global Agenda: Sandstorm screenshot

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.

PvP is still a fun experience, and the large scale battles are still interesting. In Sandstorm, Hi-Rez has seemed to favor PvE, but PvP is still a fun part of the experience. I found myself bouncing around back and forth between the two play options. They both serve as a nice respite from the other. If you’re sick of preordained encounters, then switch to the mayhem and chaos on PvP.

Global Agenda: Sandstorm screenshot

The problem with the PvE content is it’s extremely cliché. There are a sparse few encounters in Global Agenda’s new questing environments that amount to more than the extremely tired questing formula of “kill X wombats” or “bring back X number of wombat claws,” ultimately leading up to “bring back the head of the wombat king.”

It’s certainly worth noting, though, that top to bottom, this game is gorgeous. I said earlier it’s only on par with some of the new World of Warcraft stuff, but that should be thought of as a compliment to both games. Global Agenda is a graphical powerhouse in the MMO genre and Sandstorm continues that tradition. Even the barren desert location the questing opens in is rather full.

Other games present you with a vast emptiness, filled with randomly generated monsters, but Global Agenda takes a smarter approach. Not only are there lots of good looking landmarks, but the terrain is also varied. There are mini-platforming challenges for those who would rather scale a cliff face than walk around. This sort of thing keeps the action fresh and keeps the player from focusing too much on the combat (thus tiring of it more quickly).

Will Global Agenda: Sandstorm buff the franchise enough to gain a critical mass of players? Probably not, but that’s unfortunate because it certainly offers enough of a unique experience that it should attract lots of players. Its principle problem has been it lacks focus. The original game had an identity crisis. Was it an MMO or a multiplayer third-person shooter? Sandstorm clarifies this dilemma and shows Hi-Rez’s dedication to making Global Agenda a top-flight MMO. The problem is it’s only now feeling like a full-fledged experience. Most of what has been added feels like it should have been there all along.

There’s a certain class of people that will enjoy this game. Shooter fans will likely get a thrill out of this convergence of MMO and third-person, class-based action. However, most MMO fans probably won’t find enough new ideas to challenge their current MMO of choice.

Some of the best graphics we’ve seen in an MMO, but it may push your gaming rigs power to the limit. 3.5 Control
The controls are nothing spectacular, and the reliance on the tool bar method of combat isn’t as fluid as it could be. 2.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound effects are good, but the voice overs are sparse and the music is almost non-existent while questing. 3.4 Play Value
This is a decent MMO with lots of good combat, but veterans of the MMO are likely to feel like they’ve done this all before. 3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Create your agent: Create, customize, and develop multiple agent characters, complementing your FPS skills with accessible RPG-style progression. Unlock weaponry and cutting edge devices including jet packs, grenade launchers, mines, deployable turrets, stealth suits, holographic decoys, robotic droids, and hundreds of others.
  • Co-Op with friends online: Four players share the same online mission experience, working as a team, communicating via built-in text and voice chat, infiltrating facilities, defeating end bosses, and earning technology upgrades.
  • Compete in fast-paced, multiplayer matches: Teamwork and tactics are paramount within objective-based game types designed from the ground up to support intense and balanced player vs. player combat.
  • Conquer persistent territory: You and your agency compete against other agencies for control of limited land resources and special rewards.

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