My first review on a game I've loved for 7 years and enjoyed for over 5000 hours.
Disclaimer: The following article is the sole opinion of its author and does not represent MMORPG.com in its thoughts or opinions. This is not an official MMORPG.com editorial article.
Graphics / Aesthetics- For a game released way back in April of 2005, this game is beautiful. From the green pastures of Ascalon, to the rich colours of the Jade Sea, to the desolate Sulfurous Wastes, Arenanet has designed a varied and unique world that still holds a sense of beauty in me today. Environments are well made and designed, and help to make the world come alive. Armor and weapon skins are hugely varied and very detailed. Though outdated in terms of polygon counts and such, it's art style helps it maintain its beauty throughout the years.
Role-Playing- Lots of professions to choose from and a wide variety of settings mean role-playing is quite good in this game. Each profession has a huge number of armors and each is dye-able, though character customization itself is nothing wonderful. Many features of the character itself are not changeable, such as facial features, though their are a wide number of preset faces to choose from which helps to balance this out. There are also no additional features here, such as piercings or tattoos. Names are required to be two words, which helps with naming quality, though there are still (of course) people with ridiculous names.
Fun - I've been playing this game for a very long time, and I still log in almost every day to play. It's some of the most fun I've personally had in a game. Combat is visceral and fast paced, requiring a lot of skill and pre-planning to succeed in the harder areas. The huge skill pool but limited skill bar forces you to create builds that have good synergy with the rest of your party, making it a very team-focused game. Each profession plays and feels completely different from the others; each has a unique ability set and place in the group. Enemy AI keeps you on your toes as they attack healers, casters, and low armor characters (or whoever they really feel like attacking), meaning you have to be ready for anything in any given fight.
Performance / Lag - This thing will run on just about any computer out there. It's very well optimized and has very low requirements for a game as beautiful as it is. Servers have gone down maybe two or three times in the entire games history. The only problem you may
experience here is rubber-banding, which seems to be quite common among those with slower connections.
Sound - The music in this game is absolutely phenomenal. Jeremy Soule produced a wonderful soundtrack for the series that is very nostalgic and memorable to those of us who have been playing the game for years. Environmental and combat sounds are also very good, helping to create the feel of a world that is truly alive.
Value - Guild Wars is Buy to Play, meaning all you have to do in order to play is buy the box (about 30$ for the entire game). There are no monthly fees, and the cash shop sells nothing that gives an advantage. I've put more hours into this game than any I've ever played, and I'm still getting more out of it. Huge amounts of content, large profession variety, and a gigantic world give this game a great bang for your buck.
Community - It's an online game, and a cheap one at that. However, I've had great experiences with the community, and have had very few people on my ignore list over my play history. Unfortunately, just like any other MMO, there are your typical trolls and scammers in towns trying to ruin you fun, but not in such amounts that I would call it unusual. PvP can be very elitist, with people demanding /rank and perfect PvX skill bars, but again, this is present in pretty much any game. All that said and done, I've met a huge number of great people here, joined many guilds, and made a lot of long-term friends here.
Service - This one's hard to put a number on. I've had my account stolen twice (my own fault both times), and both times I got responses within a few hours of posting tickets, with the issues resolved in a matter of days. I've reported people and guilds for scamming, hacking, and cheating, and been updated and responded to constantly throughout the investigations.
The world itself is fully instanced, with players meeting up and partying together in cites and outposts
PvE storylines are based around a series of missions that tell a very in depth and interesting story
Characters can chose a second profession to use skills from, though they cannot put points into its primary attribute
You can aqcuire NPC heroes with modifyable armor and skills to fight with you in place of people (similar to SWTOR's companions)
Tons of PvP types, from conquest to deathmatches to guild fights
Faction based PvP for control of outposts
Faction based reward system: for fighting for a specific side, you can purchase materials, skills and more from faction vendors
Very Skill-Based Low Grind Beautiful Environments Tons of Content Buy to Play (with no CS advantages)
Low Population Heavily Instanced Hard to Find Groups