"Team Fortress on Speed!" was how my compatriot described his hands-on play session with Global Agenda. I do not do well with FPS games being that most of them give me vertigo. I had seen Global Agenda and played through the tutorial at E3 and thusly hauled a gamer bud with me to PAX to play the game while I took notes. This was his first look at Global Agenda and he was still talking about it through the next weekend when I saw him again at a house warming party.
Although I spent all of my in-game time at E3 indoors, most of the maps were outdoors although some had some in-door bits, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did NOT give me vertigo. Although the bits of maneuvering inside a building did make me a little queasy, it was nowhere as bad as games such as the aforementioned TF2. The game Fury came to mind when I first saw Global Agenda. It was a game that MMORPG.com had given a graphics award to one E3 which subsequently crashed and burned due to unnecessarily complicated leveling through complex fantasy skills and builds. Global Agenda has much of the same game play mechanic behind it; Match-made, team based PvP on several different maps. That is where the similarity ends as Global Agenda is a futuristic sci-fi game with PvE as well as PvP components to it. With much simpler weapon systems and skill trees as compared to Fury, it was easy to get into and did not lack depth in the classes I had seen thus far - Mechanic and now Assault.
At E3, I saw was an earlier build and I was running about indoors in the city as well as indoors in the newbie tutorial which contributed to the vertigo. This new build looks much better, with better frame-rates which helps to ease the issues for the vertigo sensitive such as I.
As with my first hands-on session, my compatriot found the controls extremely intuitive. We (or he) played all three maps that were shown, starting with Ice Flow which was an Escort mission where we actually had to "Push the Object" - a huge piece of machinery. Set outside of a Siberian facility, I had time to admire the architecture and scenery. The second map was known as Seaside and is a three-point Ticket map set upon a massive drilling platform suspended above a storming Northern Atlantic Ocean where we had to win two of three objectives. The third was named Climate Control and is an Attack/Defend map set within the mountains of East Asia complete with trees swaying in the wind.
The play characters were all level 50 and fully tricked out. With 15 points to distribute among the devices one could bring into the game, we made our choices of weapons and devices, figured out how to switch weapons on the fly and the game was on. Fast and furious, eight versus eight matches with a good mix of Recon, Assault, Medic and Mechanic on the team, the first was totally a firepower, brute-force match before players began to explore the nuances of their characters and by the third match, healing stations, bombs, force-shields and turrets were being laid and we were protecting our Medic! Poor medics... they may as well have targets super-imposed over their armor. We also figured out re-spawn beacons (which can be destroyed) for more strategic re-spawn points closer to the objective, and tried out close combat, managed to block and back-stabbed the opposing team's Medic as he turned tail and ran.
A quick explanation of the classes: There's Assault (tank / DPS), Medic (healer / damage), Recon (sniper / intelligence / detect traps) and Mechanic (turrets / "pets" / shields). Each class has three skill trees for players to specialize their classes in. As all players are fully armored and the game is fast paced, each class has a distinct silhouette; big bulky shoulders for Assault, flexible pipes and packs for the Medic, a sleek slim silhouette for the Recon guy and a 3rd mechanical arm for the Mechanic, which is folded over his shoulder. The Medics also invariably were following the Assault guys. Follow the trail of the healing ray and a Medic was attached.
As long as we were outdoors, I enjoyed this game immensely. With its fast pacing, gorgeous graphics, smooth animations and flow, Global Agenda also has an intuitive UI and controls, that I as a non-FPS player was able to pick it up very quickly - love those turrets and force shields!
When we got kicked out of the game due to a technical glitch and had to log back in, Executive Producer Todd Harris took the opportunity to show us developments in their Cities. Help Kiosks abound which help you navigate and provide assistance in the game itself. If you are seeking an area or objective, it will provide a trail that takes you where you need to go, not just a directional beacon. I also spoke with him about the game that was not shown at PAX, the PvE game.
Global Agenda is more than just a PvP game, it has a PvE game and a persistent world. There are solo missions for players preferring to solo and a match-making system operates in both PvP and PvE missions, ensuring that players get into the game quickly once they've decided they want to get in. "The game is balanced for PvP," said Todd. "Then we use the same skills to design the PvE content."
This game looks great, plays well and as impressed as players and press has been, the pressure is on for Hi-Rez Studios. This is an award-winning game preview. Will it live through its promise and grow into an award-winning game? Hi-Rez Studios plans to begin a new closed beta that will introduce the game's persistent campaign elements soon but at this time, has not announced a time-line for release. I know they have picked up at least a few more fans at PAX and many more eyes on them.