Global Agenda: review

In early July, the developer Realtime Worlds released its anarchical crime-based shooter MMO, APB: All Points Bulletin. After only three months and following Realtime Worlds’ significant financial woes, APB was shut down entirely. Seemingly, the persistent whispers that no studio could successfully combine the shooter and MMO genres seemed to be validated once again.

Enter Hi-Rez Studios and their shooter MMO, Global Agenda.

Released in February, Global Agenda is a third-person science fiction shooter and MMO that combines the class and team-based combat of a modern shooter with the character customisation and player interaction of a massively multiplayer online game. It is not fee-based, but rather only requires the game’s initial purchase without any further subscriptions. What’s more, Global Agenda took the opportunity of APB’s downfall to offer discounted entry to that game’s understandably frustrated players.

Global Agenda is set in the not-too-distant future, when a “Big Brother” government known as The Commonwealth lords over the planet and generally causes everyone significant grief. Choosing one of the four classes—Assault, Medic, Recon, or Robotics—the player is constantly pitted against various baddies and placed in missions that benefit greatly from a team-based approach. An expansion to Global Agenda, titled Sandstorm, was released several months ago and added weapons, loot, missions, and areas to the game world.

"You guys wanna get a smoothie after this?"

The pitfall that other shooter MMOs run into, it seems, is meeting the expectations of both shooter fans and MMO fans alike. Players of modern shooters have come to expect rapid combat, twitch-sensitive controls, and unparalleled precision from their game experiences. Fans of MMOs, however, tend to favor a broader scope that encourages exploration and deep character interaction. The best complement one can give Global Agenda is that it does all of these things competently.

Global Agenda is a good third-person shooter. The controls are tight and precise. The weapons have their own character and physics. And there is enough innovation in the player customisation options to keep shooter fans interested and coming back for more. Aside from typical equipment upgrades like better guns and armour, players can purchase dyes to customise certain parts of their character’s avatar. And, depending on which class a player chooses, there are some very interesting class-based perks available. The Robotic is a powerful, tactically advantageous class that can provide shields to teammates or build turrets on the battlefield. Medics can obviously support their team through healing abilities, while the Assault class is sufficiently badass with guns large and small. Perhaps most intriguing, however, is the Recon class. Hi-Rez has taken two traditional shooter classes—the long-range sniper and the melee-focused stealth—and combined them in the Recon class. While the description may suggest a confusing, unfocused character type, the player who learns to use Recon properly can be devastating against AI-controlled opponents and real players alike.

Global Agenda can be played in a variety of ways, but it is most rewarding when played with a group. The PvE (player-versus-environment) missions are perhaps the most enjoyable. They are easy to enter, clearly defined, and offer the best opportunity to meet new players—which, if you’re going to get deep into Global Agenda, is advisable. Teams of four navigate short PvE maps to ultimately challenge a final boss, who often can only be effectively eliminated if the team works together. This is essential. Perhaps more than any class-based shooter, Global Agenda absolutely requires that every player knows and carries out their role. This can cause the game to seem daunting to first-timers. But after several hours of PvE challenges and getting accustomed to the classes, Global Agenda’s PvE mode becomes a ton of fun. (It should be mentioned that, for an MMO—or online game of any kind, really—Global Agenda has developed an incredibly welcoming community of players. Any concerns about “noobishness” or inexperience should be left at the door. Help can almost always be found in the form of other players, and makes the experience that much more rewarding.)

While PvE is a good place to start the cooperative experience of Global Agenda, the PvP portion is where things get intense. These games involve larger areas with objective-based missions and teams of real players slugging it out for victory. If a player does not know what they’re doing in Global Agenda, PvP might not be for them. At times it can be intense, and victory is often reliant upon each team member understanding their objective and supporting the team to achieve it.

Jetpacks!

If this is not enough value for the seasoned shooter veteran or MMO grinder, Global Agenda offers a persistent global domination mode known as Conquest for an additional subscription fee. In Conquest, players may join an Alliance and combat other similar organisations for control of areas in the game world. In addition to the typical combat, there are coups to be carried out and accords to be made with other teams in order to secure one Alliance’s domination over others. Conquest is a deep and extensive offering, and it’s obvious that Global Agenda’s most committed devotees could spend a lot of time in that game mode alone.

While the shooting is tight and the gameplay options are rewarding in their variety, Global Agenda suffers from a lacklustre presentation. The game world consists of brown, grey, brownish grey, and greyish brown. This would be forgivable in a game with greater attention to detail. Unfortunately, Global Agenda is not such a game. What’s more, the open world that is available for exploration is quite large—a bonus, to be sure. But when considering the lack of texture or definition, just getting around can be boring. The sound design is similarly sparse and does little to help immerse players in the game world.

Global Agenda is a good shooter and a good MMO with a great opportunity at its feet. With improved presentation, it could be great. Only time will tell if Global Agenda will suffer the same fate as its shooter MMO predecessors or be the exception to the rule.


8/10

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Written by MarkP

I am a 32 year-old father of three--twin boys age 6 and a one-year-old baby girl. Gaming is a fundamental part of our family life. We game together. We talk about games together. We shop for games together. But we also each like different things. My preference is for shooters, action games, and RPGs. I have a degree in English. When I'm not playing games, I'm reading or writing.

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