Welcome to a world where magic is real, where daring rangers slay dragons, resolute warriors cross steel with dwarves, and brave monks battle off the undead. This is Tyria, the rich world of Guild Wars, a new revolutionary MMORPG, or as ArenaNet, the developers of Guild Wars, call it, a CORPG (Competitive Role Playing Game).
Gameplay: You begin the game choosing to create a PvP (Player vs. Player) character, a character that only exists in the PvP arenas, but begins, fully customized, at the maximum level, or a role playing character, a character that you have to build up in the Guild Wars world, but is able to compete in the PvP arenas. Each character has two professions, a primary and secondary. There are six professions to choose from: Warrior, Ranger, Elementalist, Mesmer, Monk and Necromancer. Your primary profession determines your character?s appearance, the armor he or she can wear, along with a set of attributes, with the skills and spells under each one. Your secondary profession adds its respective set of attributes and skills, minus the ?primary only? attribute.? As you character increases in levels, and even after you hit maximum level, you gain attribute points which you can use to increase the effectiveness of the attributes and the spells under it. You can even have attributes fully refunded. It?s up to you how to design your character and use it to its fullest potential.
Guild Wars is a very skill-based game. Your prowess in the game depends on how you use the different spells, skills, etc., in the game. This is the main focus, not how tough you can get your character. For one, the maximum level your character can reach is 20. This is to keep the game the game competitive instead of having people with nothing better to do than play games rule the virtual world. Additionally, there is a huge Player vs. Player section in Guild Wars, from games like capture the flag to guild battles (who knew?). In the non-PvP section, Guild Wars plays very much like a single player RPG, including a storyline and a changing world. You form your party and interact with people in town areas and go out on missions in a map designed for your party alone; this allows for the ability to manipulate the environment and keeps others from interrupting. The unique party maps all for the missions in the Guild Wars vary far beyond the common "talk to this guy and bring me back that item."
Graphics: From the swaying of the shadows of the leaves to the reflections in the lakes, the graphics in Guild Wars are simply beautiful. Gigantic structures in the background can make you stop and just stare for a little bit. The detail on the armor can be scene down to belt loops (not textured, but having depth) to the shine of the armor. One disappointment, graphic wise, is the absence of mouth movement during cutscenes. Although this could be difficult, due to the player?s customized character appearing in the movies, instead of a pre-made model, it?s a bummer not to see.
Sound: The sound in Guild Wars is well done. While some of the voices can be a little shaky and some just annoying, the overall the sound is good. Its soundtrack, composed by British Academy Award winner Jeremy Soule, is very nice. If you like the works of Star War?s John Williams and Lord of the Rings? Howard Shore, chances are that you will enjoy the Guild Wars soundtrack.
Stability: The game is considerably stable. I have had very few problems with it, and it was said to have one of the most bug-free MMORPG launches. Additionally, the game is constantly being updated, instead of having to wait for the next patch to come out, so the bugs tend to disappear a lot faster.
Controls: The controls in Guild Wars are quite easy to use. You can use a mouse to move, clicking where you would like to move, or you can choose to use the classic WASD keys. You can move the camera around any way you desire by holding down the right mouse button and dragging and moving the scroll wheel to zoom in and out. Hotkeys are easy to remember and the interface is simple and very customizable.
Violence: Guild Wars is a game based on fighting. Needless to say, there will be quite a lot to go around. It?d be extremely difficult for a conscientious objector to survive in this game. However, there is no gore, and very little blood.
Language: There are a couple mild swear words in the game, but other than that the language is pretty clean. An optional filter is also supplied; the advantage to this is those that would want to swear would turn the filter off and do not need to work around a mandatory filter. This filter is effective and blocks all swear words along with some other profanities.
Sexuality: While Guild Wars resembles so many other games in its genre, with its women wearing a tad less armor then their male counterparts. Fortunately, the women of Guild Wars are generally better dressed than those of other RPG games. They generally consist of low necks and/or high skirts, and for some a large midriff. However, one option for armor for some professions is tattoos, and occasionally you can find some people running around in their underwear and tattoos. This, however, is available for only two of the six professions and is rarely seen.
Occult: Guild Wars abounds with magic use. It is very difficult to play the game without its use. Additionally, there are frequent references to the ?gods.? Their names appear on many of the spells and their statues can be found in some towns. Each god has its tie-ins with the different professions that can be played, but this can be easily ignored, because the connections are mostly in name and gives no feel of ?calling upon the gods.? While the monk?s spells fall into different categories called ?prayers,? they still give no feel of actually praying to gods. Rangers can perform nature rituals and summon spirits of nature. You can also play as a Necromancer. With all this being said, the game gave me, personally, a feel of mythology rather than that of pagan religions. Lastly, and quite disappointingly, the pentagram is shown upon the activation a Necromancer spell and a couple other questionable symbols make their appearance.
Summary: In my mind, Guild Wars contains the best of both the MMORPG world and the single player RPG world. On top of this, well, let?s just say there is nothing wrong with an MMORG with no monthly fee. Just buy it once and you?re set. No credit card, no fees. BANG. Need I say more? Expansions (or chapters, as they call it) will come out, but they will not be necessary to buy. There are also free game updates, which include new explorable areas and missions. Additionally, many dial-up users say that it runs great with their connection.
While Guild Wars is a very well made game, it does, however, contain questionable materials for some.
Total Score: 80%