Guild Wars is my kind of MMO RPG game. It's as though my complaints have been addressed and someone has crafted an almost perfect example of an online, multi-player, role-playing game.

When new games debut we are often so enamored with their uniqueness that the flaws are overlooked. It's not until we become comfortable with the genre that we begin to see the seams. That doesn't mean that we're a bunch of ungrateful complainers, we're just helping to further refine the genre. Online multi-player games suffer from some flaws that we were once eager to accept but now realize there's little need for them. Guild Wars has not simplified the gameplay but it's streamlined some of the elements and eradicated some of the more annoying ones.

Comprises of two main modes, single and multi-player, the single-player mode gives you all the advantages of the multi-player mode without the hassles of real people. At least you'll get a chance to get used to things before you have to play with other humans. Actually a lot of the hassles such as losers lying to wait to pummel you for experience points is a thing of the past. Your party will consist of three other AI (henchmen) which do a fine job of accompanying you on your quests except they always seem to be under-powered for the enemies that you meet.

Towns can still be used for trading, buying, selling, recruiting party members and picking up quests. The quests are relevant to the storyline. You will actually feel like you've accomplished something instead of just grabbing treasures and experience points. It makes you feel part of the community and that's one of the tricks that will keep you coming back.

Choosing party members is a bit of a crapshoot. You can't tell what class they are until you see them. It's important to have a well-balanced variety since most of the missions require diversity, which emphasizes teamwork - another feature that will make you feel part of a community.

Each character can only carry eight slots worth of spells - not hundreds. You will notice that there are other restrictions in Guild Wars such as linear missions and virtually unavoidable fights but it all serves to keep the action flowing although you can't help but feeling shoved around a little.

Monsters will run at you when they see you and even if you refuse to fight and run away they will chase you for a long, long time and make you virtual life miserable. There is a lot of fighting so you might as well get used to it. Taking on low-level characters is a waste of time. You hardly get any experience points and they seldom drop anything that you can use. The monsters will drop weapons and stuff that will allow you to create things but they don't drop any armor. Your energy is always regenerating but you have to wait until the battle is over before your health kicks in. But it does quickly and you can be off and fighting in no time.

Travel is fast and easy although you will face plenty of battles. It does tend to get repetitive but you can always enter the multi-player modes for some diversion. There are different arenas that you can play in that include Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, King of the Hill and Team vs. Team. The load times are fast, there is no slowdown and best of all, no online fee.

The environments are stunning. They have been carefully crafted to appear as realistic as possible within the context of such a fantasy world. The graphics are rich, well-detailed and convey a huge sense of scale. The music tries hard but it just doesn't make a great impression. It's best relegated to background music as you won't likely be humming any memorable melodies. Cutscenes are great and immerse you into the storyline which closely trails the gameplay.

Guild Wars is not perfect but it's so close I can almost taste it, and the taste is sweet. Real sweet.

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System: PC
Dev: ArenaNet
Pub: NCsoft
Release: April 2005
Players: 1 - Multi Online
Review by Fenix