Freedom isn’t free
It says on the back of the box “set yourself free.” It seems like a novel idea for an MMORPG, but considering the overwhelming shadow cast by World of Warcraft right now, how can a new title survive in a flood of competition? Simple, have many of the people responsible for the first EverQuest develop the game. Sigil Games and Sony Online bring Vanguard: Saga of Heroes to the battlefield of the MMORPG war and make no apologies for its direct appeal to the old-school player.
Set in the beautiful realistically detailed world of Telon, your first mission is to choose from 19 different races. Anything from the traditional fantasy based RPG characters to the Vulmane, a race of bipedal wolf-men. From this point comes your profession. You choose from Ranger, Sorcerer, Bard, etc., 15 in all. Customizing every feature of your character right down to the size of your nose adds a layer of personalization to the game right from the beginning. Finally, every hero has to have a starting point, and Vanguard is no different. Choose from one of three lands to begin your journey: Thestra, a European styled country with mountains, wetlands, and forests, Kojan, an Asian themed continent with mostly jungles, and Qalia, a middle-eastern continent with mostly deserts. However, you will not limit yourself to one continent; eventually, you will be able to explore every corner of Telon.
The gameplay is divided into three separate spheres for you to decide the path you will take: the Adventurer, the Crafter, or the Diplomat, each with there own ways to level up and progress your character. In addition, there are no restrictions to how you combine and use each sphere. As an adventurer, you will level up the same way you do in every other MMORPG, by hacking and slashing your way through countless monsters. However, there is a stronger sense of tact to the game. While fighting several enemies at once, information of all of the foes displays, thus leading to a richer set of tactical options. The crafter will level in a different manner as your craft sphere levels up independently from the other spheres. In other games, the crafter must spend an ample amount of time and resources to acquire materials. In Vanguard, you can interact with a NPC to be given “work orders” and in most cases; they will give you the raw materials from the get go. The final sphere is Diplomacy, where you must use the power of persuasion to achieve new class titles such as Messenger or Ambassador. You do this by entering a parley with a NPC. From this point, you will use the Statement of Influence to drain your Dialogue points to zero. As your skill improves you will be able to enter up to seven different kinds of parley, for example Early Diplomacy, Regional Trade, and Consular Embassies to name a few. Unfortunately, the parleys will feel artificial and bland at times. Equally unfortunate if you are looking for a game with a deep involving storyline – this is not the one for you. Only a hand full of quests offer storylines and finding history on the world of Telon is equally disappointing.
One of the other features in Vanguard is the capability to build houses. There are three types of houses for you to build, residential player owned homes, Industrial buildings for the Crafting players, and Commercial buildings that are shops owned and ran by the player. You must be careful where you build however, as there are specific zones that you can build. Once your building is done, every other player will see and can interact with it. The zones are tricky since no other player has the ability to build once a building is built in a certain zone, but other players can damage or destroy your building if you don’t watch carefully.
Whether traveling the green hills of Thestra, the jungles of Kojan, or the deserts of Qalia, you will be delighted with the massive attention to detail of the game. This sense of realism allows for total immersion into the game right away. Unfortunately, the beauty comes with a price. In order to keep the lavish graphics you must endure the sluggish gameplay, even with a moderately powerful system. Battling in a dungeon against several foes will actually require you to turn off several of the visual effects that make Vanguard stand out. The harmonic score is even harmed by the repetitively bland NPC mission dialogues.
With its faults, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes should be passed by on the shelf without even a second glance. With the immersive multiplayer gaming experience and its in-depth complexity, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes offers a challenge that any old-school player, or a newcomer to the genre, can’t pass up.
Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
|Rating out of 5||Rating Description|
| Graphics |
You must choose between graphics and gameplay.
| Control |
Familiar for experienced MMORPG players and easy to learn for newcomers.
| Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting |
The repetitive NPC mission dialogue hinders the harmonic music of the game.
| Play Value |
Great for anyone looking for a deeper MMORPG experience.