So I bought Global Agenda on it’s Steam Sale the other day, mainly because I think it’s an interesting idea. I like shooters, I like RPGs, why not combine them? Well, the obvious reason is that shooters and RPGs have two different philosophies. Shooters are based almost entirely on personal skill, on your ability to shoot. In an RPG, skill matters too, but your character’s stats are also incredibly important. It’s very possible to be too low level for an area, where in a shooter, you can usually make up for extreme difficulty with extreme headshots.
Now, I’m not a fan of unbalanced competition (i.e. Killzone 2’s online rank system), so I’m more interested in Global Agenda’s cooperative PvE gameplay. And frankly, I think it’s a great idea. I’ve spent four hours playing Global Agenda so far, split across two characters, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far.
- Like most shooters, it’s quick to play. Even a situation that you might recognize as a “dungeon” (four characters attack an AI controlled camp, ending with a boss battle) takes a maximum of fifteen minutes - there’s a literal timer.
- Also like other shooters, you can pretty much jump in right in. After the skippable tutorial and a few “quests” designed to teach you the talent tree, you can start queuing for these missions, and be quite effective!
- And did I mention how short the wait time is? You can queue for these missions at any time, so right when I began a quest I queued, expecting a Warcraft-style 45 minute wait … I was thrown into a mission before I even left the quest hub!
- It’s great for the same reason that Halo’s Firefight is popular. It’s fun to play shooters, it’s more fun to play with other people, and these missions take you and some other people, drop you in a mission, and let you rock and roll.
- Unlike MMOs, your personal skill level makes a really notable difference in damage taken and dealt. Managing your power & using your jetpack to dodge while having enough power to shoot is an interesting mechanic, and it makes gameplay a lot more exciting than a Warcraft spell priority system. Fighting a boss really feels like fighting a boss, rather than just standing back and doing your spell rotation while ensuring you aren’t standing in fire. Even in solo play, ducking behind cover can help you last for much longer before having to rest; in something like Warcraft, if an enemy targets you, his spells can go through walls and cover, making that sort of pointless.
- At the same time, the game also takes some of the more negative elements of these genres. For example, the open nature of the MMO style gameplay hampers your ability to learn to play. The tutorial does a great job of introducing the core gameplay elements, but once you’re dropped into the game world, you have a fair amount of other “stuff” that makes no sense. What the hell is a Boost? I found out by accident, but it isn’t very clear at all. same with weapon descriptions; I have “RIfle” and “Rifle [d]”. A simple explanation of what the letter codes mean seems to be important, because I see people in chat selling “Mega Rifle [d][d][r][p][w][n]”.
- It’s also not as polished as a standalone shooter. When exploring my backpack, I have two different jetpacks; the default jetpack (“hands-free) and a second one. It turns out that the second jetpack doesn’t let you shoot while flying, but it has no benefit whatsoever compared to the default (i.e. it isn’t faster, it doesn’t let you fly further). It seems to me that this old jetpack is a remnant of how the game used to be played. Why new players have it in their inventory is beyond me. The game is full of little weirdnesses like that. And the interface is clunky as hell.
I gotta say this: Global Agenda is pretty great. I honestly have no idea why none of the news sites I read really mentioned this game (or maybe I just ignored them). I wouldn’t pay monthly for it, but for eight dollars and change it’s a great deal. For it’s regular price of $30? Well, I can’t totally say after only four hours of gameplay, but it seems solid overall.