Global Agenda ReviewBy Scott Alan Marriott - Posted Feb 17, 2010
Global Agenda, an MMO FPS, aims to deliver a vast multiplayer shooter with strands of WoW in its DNA. Unfortunately, what it does do well is already done better by several other PC shooters that don't charge a monthly fee.
- Four diverse classes
- Combat involves more than just shooting
- Jetpacks are a fun addition
- Generic looking maps
- Dull player vs. environment content
- Weak crafting
"Jack of all trades, master of none" is an apt description of Global Agenda's content. The gunplay won't appeal to Call of Duty or Battlefield vets and its limited scope won't draw in MMO players expecting wide-open worlds to explore. While the game does have its moments, it's hard to justify a monthly subscription fee for something that simply isn't on the same scale as its competitors.
It seems you can't drop-kick a dead squirrel without hitting a PC game publisher thinking about earning more cash through subscription-based content. Almost as if to justify its optional monthly pricing structure, Global Agenda calls itself an MMO when, at its core, it's really a third-person shooter with an emphasis on player versus player combat. There are also role-playing elements in the form of experience-based leveling, skill trees, and crafting, but if you've played Unreal Tournament or Team Fortress 2, you have a basic idea of what to expect.
Set in the year 2155, Global Agenda's premise is a familiar one: the world has been taken over by a totalitarian regime and it's up to you to reclaim it. You'll join the fight as one of four types of operatives: assault (the tank), medic (the healer), robotics (gadget guy) and recon (stealthy assassin). In a nod to Sierra's Tribes franchise, each soldier is equipped with a jetpack, but it's only for quick movement, as you can't shoot while flying. Every class uses a combination of ten weapons, powers, and devices on the battlefield, from mines and force field walls to swords and rocket-launching turrets.
After a brief tutorial, in which you'll be battling enemies that resemble Terminator exoskeletons and sound like Cylons, you'll be dropped into a domed city called, well, Dome City. This area is essentially one giant hub and it's the only time you'll be able to walk around outside of a mission. Here you can purchase items, check mail, create auctions, assign skills, listen to chat, and so forth. It's Ironforge (to give WoW players an idea) without the lag. Yet, the game's content is accessed from a single screen, simply by pressing the "M" key from anywhere in the city.
This mission screen lets you choose from five player versus environment (PvE) and five player versus player (PvP) matches; all are instanced. PvE areas are divided by difficulty level and consist of a handful of alternating maps. You and a team of fellow agents will storm various trap-filled structures that lead to a boss character. All the maps are linear, with the difficulty influencing the types and numbers of enemies you'll face. While the point of PvE maps is to earn experience and acquire items, you won't earn new armor, guns, or gadgets.
Global Agenda, likely for balancing reasons, unlocks groups of weapons and items after a character class reaches a certain level. You can then spend device points to strengthen each weapon or gadget to create more powerful versions. The only "loot" you'll acquire consists of ingredients and/or blueprints to craft weapon and armor upgrades -- which degrade over time, cannot be repaired, and are not easy to create. Since you earn more experience in PvP, there's little incentive to play the PvE maps.
All for One and One for All
Queuing up a PvP match will place you on a ten-person team against another ten-person team in one of five game types. You can't choose the game type you want, nor can you adjust any rules or options. The available games consist of breach, demolition, scramble, payload, and control. All are somewhat similar, and generally involve capturing control points rather than eliminating rival team members. Control, for example, involves securing two of three fixed control points, while scramble has your team securing three random control points. Demolition and payload are a bit different, in that you are escorting a explosives-carrying robot in one, and clearing the way for a hovering sphere to move along a predetermined track in the other.
Thus, you are not necessarily trying to rack up kills during PvP matches, but rather distract rivals long enough to ensure that your team achieves its objectives. This will likely be a make or break aspect of Global Agenda for most players. Instead of one shot, one kill, it's “pew-pew-pew-pew” until your target throws up a shield or flies away. Higher leveled characters will not necessarily dominate over lower level characters, especially when the teams are well balanced. It's all about effectively taking advantage of skills, managing cooldowns, and playing your class effectively, much like a traditional MMORPG. Shooting is only one aspect of combat, and it's arguably the least satisfying part.
The good news is that once you have purchased the game, you can continue leveling your character and participating in both PvP and PvE missions without any additional monthly fee. The bad news is that the most distinctive element of Global Agenda, conquest mode, is reserved to paying subscribers. This conquest mode is played on a series of hexed-based maps. Each hex represents a territory, and the idea behind the mode is that your guild or agency is trying to control as much territory as possible. This is accomplished by purchasing deeds to each territory, and adding various support structures to generate resources or assist in their defense.
The action phase allows you to go on 12-person raids to attack rival territories or defend your own. There are vehicles to create and use against the enemy, and you'll be able to form alliances with other agencies. There are a couple of caveats: One, the action phase is limited to a few hours per day, and there seems to be a lot of waiting involved for things to happen. Two, there is no current agency population cap in place, so there's nothing holding back a super agency from eventually taking over the majority of the resources. If you are a small agency looking to make a mark in the world, good luck. You're going to need it.
Global Agenda has a lot of things going against it. Bland environments, limited choices, loose gunplay, and the lack of meaningful loot will make you think twice about leveling your character to 50. The MMO part is questionable at best, and there are a number of flaws that need to be corrected before you should consider taking the plunge. Perhaps the most damning flaw is that titles like Guild Wars, Team Fortress 2, Shadowrun, and even Borderlands already do most of what Global Agenda does and they do it better. They also do so without relying on any added monthly cost, even if it is entirely optional. Let the buyer beware.