In the months since MMORPG.com last reviewed Global Agenda, developer Hi-Rez Studio's science fiction themed massively multiplayer online third person shooter, a myriad of much anticipated content updates and patches have forever changed the face of this bold if not venerable gaming title. As many who have had the chance to experience what Global Agenda has to offer already know all too well, attempting to neatly place the game into any genera which already exists is about as effective as trying to find that jungle zone you hear so much about in Global Agenda's version of the global chat channel, aptly named City Chat. New players should get this side splitter about 30 seconds after entering a public chat channel. It could even be argued that the title of MMO is somewhat misleading as very little core game play is genuinely played on the massively multiplayer scale. With a little imagination Dome City, the player hub where most economic, social and crafting based game play occurs, could even be looked at as little more than the most interactive multiplayer lobby ever conceived. With that being said, no review on Global Agenda would be complete without reiterating the notion that, when taken for what it is, Global Agenda is an entertaining game in its own right which possesses that illusive uniqueness which has been absent in MMO gaming of late.
Returning veterans of Global Agenda will notice several new additions to the game as soon as they log in. First and foremost, they will most likely no longer have to surrender their credit card information prior to entering the game world. Yes, in the months since release, Global Agenda has entered the questionable world of free-to-play. In perhaps the most sweeping change to GA, Hi-Rez Studio has not only nixed the subscription based model, but they have also ceased charging for the game itself. Implemented in their place are several alternatives to sustain the game’s profitability. The available payment models can best be explained on 3 levels, Free account, Elite account and applying a booster to your account. Free accounts enjoy much of the same privileges as the paying members of the community do. They are free to level multiple characters with no class or level restrictions; they are even free to own much of the same equipment and weaponry as the majority of the paying population. Most importantly, a free player can, in most cases, compete just as competitively as a paying level 50. Aside from free players not being able use the auction house in Dome City. What is the down side one may ask? Well, the sun just might go supernova prior to a free player reaching max level. In an ingenious plot to milk us of everything they can, Hi-Rez determined that our own impatience was the most effective route to our wallets. It worked… It worked very well.
If you play Global Agenda, yet are lazy and hate to wait, then you most likely already own the Elite Agent Package. The Elite Agent package is a one-time purchase which permanently doubles all of your experience, token, currency and item gain on all of your characters. Purchasing the Elite agent package will also reduce your chat restrictions, which in all honesty does not mean much as even after handing the company my money their chat filter still closely resembles the average Nazi. Purchasing the Elite package not only benefits the real world economy, it just might save the in game market as well. Currently only Elite accounts have access to such integral systems as the Auction house and in-game mail. What this ultimately boils down to is a system in which free players cannot conduct any form of trade. In short if you are not elite, you are 100% self-sufficient.
The final 2 methods of reducing your bank account via Global Agenda are the purchasing of Agenda Points and the application of a booster to your account. Agenda Points are Hi-Rez Studio's realization of Farmville cash with one integral difference. In lieu of applying your Agenda Points towards the acquisition of rainbow sheep, bubble gum trees and candy cane fences – you apply said points towards the purchase of machine guns, bombs, rocket launchers and viral agents. In a more perfect world gamers would most likely use these implements of war to cleanse the internet of aforementioned rainbow sheep, bubble gum trees and candy cane fences. MMO purists will at least be pleased to know that almost every item purchasable through the spending of Agenda Points may also be procured with all your cold hard freely earned tokens and cash. Finally we come to the account booster. Boosters are simple. Just as the Elite Agent package doubled your experience, token, credit and loot gain, the booster will double them once again. Boosters can be purchased in varying durations of 10, 30 and 90 days in length.
Now that we know the various methods of shedding your wallets blood, what is the prognosis? To put it simply, Global Agenda is absolutely brimming with satisfaction for the price. A one-time purchase that will cost you less than a used copy of Duke Nukem Forever is all that is required of you to fully enjoy every facet of a strikingly multifaceted game. And even then it's not required if don't mind your levels arriving once a fortnight.
Aside from Global Agenda being the Che Guevara of the F2P revolution, the most noticeable addition to accost returning players would have to be the implementation of the Sonoran Desert. To put it simply, the Sonoran Desert is the massively component in the Massively Multiplayer Online Game, Global Agenda. Sonoran is the persistent free roaming open world component which was ominously absent from previous adaptations. In reality it simply boils down to little more than an extended tutorial. Though the quests are relatively fun and the third person shooter mechanics give solo quest grinding a fresh feel, for the first time in memorable history, I found myself complaining of how short the grind was and how there were too few zones to grind through.
Though the zone admittedly leaves you desiring more, the absence of continuity may be both a gift and a curse. Solo PVE game play has, for years, been a relatively untapped commodity in the massively multiplayer online shooter realm. As such, the experience feels fresh. Extended periods of open world questing could very well serve to sour the adventure. The twitch based target and attack system provides opportunities for unique PVE experiences as well, such as having to use cover to avoid sniper fire as the player moves through a valley. Just as in Global Agenda's instanced PVE, named Special Operations, the twitch cover and shooting mechanics feel smooth and weapons react as one would expect them too. Open world combat has the potential for swift merciless action with the outcome often hinging on little more than a few well-placed bullets and the clever application of various supporting equipment.
Upon departing Dome City players are met with the visage of the Sonoran Desert. The zone, based off the vast Sonoran Desert of south western Mexico and America, is a land maimed by craggy fissures rent through the sand and stone long ago. Deep reds and vague shades of yellow often soothe the eye in a harmonious contrast which feels both authentic yet fanciful. The visuals themselves are believable if not impressive when considering the relatively low system requirements for maximum quality. For all its virtues though, there are palpable sores to the otherwise pleasant visual experience. In a game capable of such robust and detailed particle effects one would think the Desert of Sonoran would be the ideal candidate for a little dust in the wind, anything to make the world feel less stagnant and more reactive.
Even though the visuals play a key role in the overall experience, Sonoran has the potential to offer multitudes more than simple eye candy. The quest lines on hand offer a coherent, though mediocre narrative at best. There is an overarching story which follows the character's journey to cure one’s self of an almost magical degenerative disease. Summarily, the narrative is not what draws one to Sonoran. Though the experience may be short, it does have much to offer as both a relatively unique experience and a starting point for future open world zones with in GA.
Head to page 2 to read about Game Play, Social Aspects/Community, Polish, Longevity and Robert's final thoughts.