Industry rookies Hi-Rez Studios have released their post-apocalyptic third person shooter MMO, but with the Internet already extremely saturated in a sea of Massively Multiplayer games, how does it fare?
Reviewed by: MJBasinger
Game: Global Agenda
Developer: Hi-Rez Studios
Publisher: Hi-Rez Studios
Release Date: February 1, 2010
I went into Global Agenda knowing absolutely nothing about it. For one reason or another, I had written it off as nothing more than MMO shovelware. It was a classic case of judging a book by its cover. Guilty as charged. So, when I actually installed the game and dove into the tutorial, I was somewhat blindsided by the fact that I was actually having fun. Unlike countless other MMOs, I wasn’t bored to tears by RPG clichés. I neither had to slay ten festering rodents for an enchanted loin cloth, nor crawl through a dungeon for a stat raising amulet. What I did have to do was fight my way out of a research facility full of armed robots who (like all sentient computers) wanted me dead. But, I’ll be damned if I’m letting some battery powered, binary speaking piece of scrap metal take me down! I digress… After my rescue by a team of vigilantes who are opposing the worlds single evil empire, the Commonwealth, I was transported to Dome City. A Safe haven for all those who oppose the corrupt world government of the post World War 3 year of 2155.
I exited the tutorial high off kicking ass and ready to see what this dystopian world had to offer. So, I started the first quest line I saw, which took me straight to the barren wasteland of the Sonoran Desert. It’s a dirty, hot place full of opportunistic people who will only help you if you give them something in return. It’s also full of brutal enemies that did a pretty great job of relentlessly slaughtering me if I dared even think of crossing their paths. But I pushed onward through the cracked and withered terrain mission after mission, death after death until I reached a halt in the quests. So, I began planning to venture onward and find new people to meet in new and exciting territories. That wasn’t going to happen, though. It was about this time I realized that I had been playing the expansion portion of the game the entire time. This, in a nutshell, is kind of an example of how Global Agenda treats its players.
I’ll be upfront with you. My experience with Hi-Rez Studio’s flagship game, Global Agenda, was nothing short of absolutely confusing. Straight out of the gate, there is really no explanation on how best to take advantage of Global Agenda‘s offerings. How does the crafting system work? Why do all of the merchants sell so many items that are only available to high-level players? Why did I immediately start the expansion instead of the game telling me how to enjoy the original content first? But maybe that was part of Hi-Rez Studio’s intentions. Global Agenda isn’t a quest based experience, it’s a series of joining queues to go on missions. Rinse and repeat. So, maybe they wanted to give new players an easier, more familiar entry into the game by pointing them in the direction of the desert first by offering the Sandstorm expansion up front. It’s an exponentially more streamlined RPG experience full of quest givers that send you to specific locations with specific goals that you physically take your character to carry out these orders. For RPG and MMO rookies, it’s a bit easier to relate to that experience rather than one where you opt-in for a mission and are suddenly whisked away.
Even the basics of the game were lost on me, though. One of the biggest issues being the loot system. Not until about 5 or 6 hours into the game did I even receive a new weapon and I’ve yet to receive any new armor or cool looking gear. Furthermore, the amount of cash that you rake in is barely enough to buy anything that is actually being sold for sub level 20 characters. There’s just not much of a carrot on a stick to keep you interested in the game sometimes. This also can be said for the mission structure. I hadn’t even played three missions before the game forced me to repeat one that I had already done. Since the game has a pretty steep difficulty (even in the early missions of the game it is pretty masochistic), it makes redoing missions extremely frustrating. Especially when the next set of available missions isn’t unlocked until you reach level eighteen! I can’t help escape the feeling that I’m just “doing it wrong”, but even if that is the case, I don’t know that I can really blame myself for being so lost. Throw me a bone here, Hi-Rez!
If you read my review of Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, I may start to sound like a broken record. Because, beside the fact that I felt like a sheep without a shepherd, I can’t deny that I actually enjoyed most of the time I spent with Global Agenda. It’s learning curve may be a bit high for those that have never played an MMO before, but the core gameplay actually helps outshine a decent amount of its shortcomings. Fast paced shootouts with groups of enemies through caverns and buildings to reach a hulking brute of a boss is pretty engaging. Especially when you are paired up with a solid squad that knows how to take full advantage of their unique abilities and are willing to cooperate (protip: medics are invaluable in some of these boos fights.) Global Agenda feels a bit like a poor man’s, class based Mass Effect, but it has its own unique style and just enough personality to help hold interest and, honestly, it’s not too shabby looking either. It may be a tad bit rough around the edges, but some of the textures are impressive and character models and armor look nice. It’s nothing to drool over, but it’s competent work.
Global Agenda has some serious flaws. Ones that make you want to pull your hair out and stop playing the game if you aren’t already familiar with the ins-and-outs of MMOs. But underneath piles of confusing frustration, there is a game that truly wants to be good and offers some fun in trying. You can tell that Hi-Rez poured their hearts and souls into their first baby and I respect that and, while it may not be anything close to a perfect game, I can say with some pride that I’m glad to have a developer like Hi-Rez in my hometown. I’m anxious to see what this group can do with a bit more of a budget and some experience under their belts.
Global Agenda Sandstorm Review by Steven Mills
Let me start by saying I agree 110% with everything MJBasinger said above. Global Agenda as a game does have some pretty serious flaws, but even still manages to be tons of fun. I actually had the privellage of playing Global Agenda before the Sandstorm release. Honestly if I had review the game then, it probably would have been closer to a 4 or 5. Having said this, since the Global Agenda Sandstorm I’ve had a blast with the game. Please keep in mind while the above review is for Global Agenda, this review is specifically for the Sandstorm release.
When you first login to the game now the login screen displays a very angry man in the bottom right over looking a desolate desert. Every now and then he lets out a yell that could tumble buildings and move mountains. While nothing was changed character creation wise in Global Agenda Sandstorm, shortly after logging in the additions come into play. A series of running back and forth style quest lines will eventually bring you to the dry and desolate Sonoran Desert. The desert was introduced in the Sandstorm expansion and is basically a large open zone full of missions that are well strung together and presented to you at a enjoyable yet competitive pace.
In my journey’s I was tasked with taking out bandits, destroying a robotic swarm, and gathering supplies. Doing just these quests alone lasted me until almost level 20; with very light PvP queues along the way for fun. While it’s a shame that the Sonoran Desert is the only open zone in the game, I feel like it greatly improves the Global Agenda experience in the early levels. I feel as though people that played Global Agenda before the expansion released that quite due to lack of direction would certainly enjoy the game more with the Global Agenda Sandstorm expansion.
At the end of my questing experience I was tasked with taking out a boss in an instance named “Warlord”. I think I was supposed to group up for this mission, but I managed to solo it via some sweet skills and a bit of kiting. I noticed something familiar while fighting Warlord though…every now and then he let out a yell that could tumble buildings and move mountains. I’ll have to admit, it felt great knowing his loud yell would sound no more…until I went to the login screen, at least.
Before the Global Agenda Sandstorm expansion, I had tried crafting and simply didn’t understand or see a use for it. Global Agenda Sandstorm revamped how crafting works, and I enjoyed it. While it took a little messing around to figure out how exactly it worked, it seems like a more useful and simpler upgrade from the previous system.
Honestly, while adventuring through the Sonoran Desert I found myself relating the game to Borderlands; which is a good thing. This revamp is a great start to what the game needs to be an elite MMORPG, and while it no longer has a monthly subscription fee, it’s even closer to that status.
Overall, having played many MMORPG’s both free-to-play, purchase-only, and subscription style, I can honestly say I’m impressed with Global Agenda Sandstorm. If you’re looking to finally take your skill and passion for shooters into a massively online world, Global Agenda Sandstorm is where you want to be.