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Guild Wars: Factions Review

Developer: ArenaNet Publisher: NCsoft
Release Date: April 28, 2006 Also On: None

If you attentive readers remember, the original Guild Wars was my choice for last year’s Game of the Year. With it being almost a whole year since the original, NCsoft and ArenaNet hope to impress current Guild Wars fans with the new explorable continent of Cantha in this new standalone game. First and foremost, the original game’s mantra still stands: online play is still free. This might be one of the reasons why I love this game so much. The fact that newcomers to Guild Wars don’t have to buy the original Prophecies makes me give it a huge plus. Factions brings a lot to the table.

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Cantha is an Asian-themed world, and considered to be a sailing merchants empire. The backstory revolves around the antagonist Shiro Tagachi, who murdered Cantha’s emperor and was killed for it. Shiro’s ghost then turned the seas into solid jade and petrified the forests. 200 years later, he returns from his grave to pester the Cantha’s citizens. The main task of the players is to ultimately defeat Shiro and send him back to his grave for good. The storyline, like the previous, is rather unique. It’s not the greatest (though amazing for an MMO), but it actually is a lot more creative and realized than that of Prophecies.

The biggest change has to be the fact that there are two more professions: the assassin and the ritualist. The assassin is a faster form of the warrior while the ritualist is a mixture between a necromancer and monk. Not only that, but there are 100+ new monsters, new NPCs , new pets for Rangers, new weapons, new bosses and 300 new skills.

One of the most interesting changes is the introduction of factions. Players can choose one of two sides: Luxon and the Kurzick. Luxons, in my humble summarization, are sea people, while the Kurzick are the forest people. Choose carefully, because sometimes your faction can get you certain privileges in a certain town (such has huge discounts), while sometimes it can bar you from merchants of the opposite faction. Another addition is the creation of alliances, which are groups of 10 guilds. To be a part of an alliance you must be part of the guild.

There are a new variety of missions in factions. Challenge Missions, where you compete with yourself and setting personal highs; Cooperative missions, that put 16 people together for pure chaotic fun; Alliance battles which are 12v12 for 24 player fun; Super elite missions for the alliances that control the capital cities of either faction.; and finally competitive battles, where you compete with others. As for the graphics, they are, like the last game, well done. The audio is amazing. I’m actually surprised how they accurately portrayed and realized the general mood of Cantha. The music borders on classical Asian themed music.

One thing I did notice though is the fact that the developers put a lot more cooperative competition in this game. As soon as you have a definite faction as well as being part of an alliance, you actually have a say in the world. The control of cities between the factions changes rapidly. The way an alliance can obtain control of a city is through gaining more faction that the current alliance (factions are a sort of quasi-currency gained through missions, that can be donated by individual players). To prevent unlimited collecting of faction, thus to prevent continuous holding of a city, every day the alliances faction decreases by 10%. This trend might have been the best change in this entire game.

There are a few problems though. The only problem that was in both games was how annoying the communication was in missions. In both games, because I was busy typing, I would get slaughtered. In elite missions, you never have time to type out things. The developers should next time focus on actual voice usage. A problem that Factions created though, was that a lot of the content are for elites, thus somewhat discouraging for the newbies.

I was somewhat criticized by my fellow staff members about my love for the original Guild Wars. It was not only good, but downright revolutionary in its category. Factions adds a lot to the genre of MMOs, and maintaining the original vision of being free and fun. I won’t suggest newcomers go straight to Factions, rather they should start with Prophecies (which is now cheaper) and then to Factions. Veterans though are highly encouraged to purchase my probable choice for MMO of the year.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 9.2
Written by Simon Review Guide