Monday, June 13, 2005

Guild Wars Review - Part I

Guild Wars Review – Part I

My thoughts on how to review an MMO.

What do I want out of Guild Wars(GW)?

I want a fast and fun PvP gaming experience with an MMO mentality, but of course free of charge. I want a game based around skill and a wide variety of viable in game skill sets. There needs to be massive competition among all the guilds and the competition needs rewards. The PvE needs to be enjoyable, but overall nothing more than a side adventure compared to the PvP aspect. The game needs balance to a certain point, but overall balance needs to be decided by giving the players the ability to build a wide variety of effective strategies.

The Basics

Graphics – Very well done. The ambient glow the game world has adds a lot to immerse you into the game. The character models are well animated and the monsters are fun to look at. The backgrounds are breath taking in some areas. You will be stopping to look at a water fall, forest, or battlefield in the background.

However there is a major detracting problem with these backgrounds… because that is what they are… backgrounds. You can’t interact with most of the game world. Small hills and other such visual aids often are misleading resulting in an invisible wall. I am sorry, but my character needs to be able to step over a two foot high rock in my path. It is confusing on the eyes when your avatar runs pointlessly into an invisible wall… visual clues such as walls, bushes, etc are needed to indicate an area is unreachable.

For all the awe moments built into the game world there are enough “damn it I can’t go that way” moments to counteract them.

Sound – From clanging swords to sandy footsteps the sound is right on in GW. The sound effects are excellent. However, the voice acting during the in game cut scenes lacks emphasis. The voice actors are drab and uneventful. You will spend more time skipping the cut scenes than enjoying them. The good news is that the sounds you will be hearing the most of, swords and spells, are very well done.

Technical Performance – The game runs nearly flawlessly. Everyone is part of the same game world and major areas are either instanced or broken up into several cloned districts. This results in a net positive effect on performance. The one area of technical performance that is troubling is the collision detection. Like the graphical problem of being unable to traverse the smallest hills there is an equally troubling problem of collision detection warping your avatar around.
You will have several times where you will try to move around an obstacle only to be warped back against it as though you never ran around it. Also when it comes to other players you will sometimes wonder why your character is running a zigzag pattern to someone or something right in front of you.

GW allows you to play the game with little to no lag and only suffers from poor collision detection.

Customer Service – Being a free MMOG there is little need for customer service outside of your routine spammers, scammers, and griefers. Every incident I encountered in game regarding a bad name or a constant spammer was resolved and the person removed or silenced. I actually reported a name of a group mate and before we finished out our current instance his name had been changed. The A.Net CS department seems to be on the top of their game.
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