Having tried the monthly paid subscription plan and failing to attract many players, Global Agenda returns expanded and with no subscriptions, as well as sporting the suffix Sandstorm. However, can the extra content and the elimination of monthly payments make up for the original’s short comings? It absolutely can.
Setting itself up as a third person shooter MMO, Global Agenda’s biggest failing was content. It lacked any singleplayer components – such as quests – and only provided a selection of team based missions which played out in a similar fashion to World of Warcraft’s dungeons and raids. These modes were certainly fun but whilst queuing for these matches you were left with only Dome City to explore. Whilst this city provided ample stores to buy equipment, it acted as nothing more than a hub for the missions and a chat room. Global Agenda Sandstorm changes all that with the addition of a large desert map just outside of Dome City, full of singleplayer quests.
Sonoran Desert is a large open environment for you to explore and complete quests on, and is the key component that makes the Global Agenda experience much more substantial and appealing. It adopts a more traditional MMO setup, with NPCs dishing out quests for the prizes of equipment and experience points, but unfortunately it’s an austere setup, consisting of little more than kill and fetch tasks that only provide half a dozen hours of questing at most. However, it’s an addition Global Agenda was crying out for from the start, so no matter how basic and unimaginative it is, it’s still an extremely welcome alternative to simply waiting around within the confines of Dome City.
Despite the open-world setup being small and short, the addition of Jetpacks automatically makes it entertaining. Traversing the desert in this way is fast and fun, and provides a unique tactical environment for you to explore and take advantage of. The jetpacks allow you to approach and complete each object in different ways. Mountains and canyons are of no consequence as you gleefully dash over them in all your jet propelled glory, before attacking your enemies from whichever angle you see fit. The jetpacks in addition to the third person shooter style makes Global Agenda unique in the MMO market, and whilst games like PlanetSide have pulled off similar things before, Global Agenda manages to set itself apart by possessing a friendlier charm in its brightly coloured visuals and simplified experience that successfully promotes accessibility, most of the time.
Whilst Global Agenda is easy to play at its core, the tutorial section and amount of information in-game covering all its intricacies are shallow and hard to find. MMO veterans will have little trouble figuring everything out, but for everyone else you can expect to get several hours in before you’ll even become aware of the multiplayer aspects of this MMO. It all comes down to a lack of information in the initial stages. The quests system, equipment customisation, a missions are all simple and easy to use but lack introduction and clarity, leaving you at the mercy of trial and error. It’s mostly forgivable thanks in part to the occasional quest which points you in the right direction to experience the other content seemingly hidden, but it’s disappointing that the missions aren’t mentioned until two or three hours in.
Once you do discover the missions, it’s a real treat. These team based mission return mostly unchanged from the original, consisting of standard player verses player deathmatch modes to cooperative King of the Hill and even dungeon runs culminating in a boss fight. They’re all excellent; each with varied levels that are brilliantly designed to make full use of the flexibility the jetpack provides and has their own charms and setups to appeal to a diverse player-base. Moreover the player-base themselves make the experience all the sweeter, showing a very natural team based behaviour and providing a welcoming atmosphere for new comers. It’s rare to find a community that can gel so well when thrust together in random matches and it’s a refreshing and humbling experience to say the least.
Each specific class has an important role within each mission; no one feels unnecessary, and they differ from each other significantly. The Assault Agent doubles up as both the Tank and DPS, being able to take a great deal of damage as well as dishing it out. The Recon is wicked fast and doubles as both a hit-and-run melee rogue and a long range sniper, using stealth as its only defence. The Medic keeps the team fighting fit with healing and buffs, whilst also using offensive poisons to weaken enemies. Finally there’s the Robotics Agent who is certainly the most difficult class to learn. The Robotics Agent uses a wide array of gadgets and turrets to support the team defensively or offensively and if used well is easily the deadliest member of a team. Each class suits different play styles and come together wonderfully to form a diverse and effective team, making the player verses player mission, in particular, intense and wildly entertaining.
That’s the key with Global Agenda, it’s wildly entertaining. Sandstorm certainly helps by providing more content but the missions themselves provide the most enjoyment and prove that the original game is indeed a terrific title. The elimination of monthly payments and the addition of the desert questing environment makes Global Agenda Sandstorm a more substantial game for your hard earned cash. Sure, more environments and more variety in the quests would be nice, not to mention a more thorough tutorial, but as it stands it’s an MMO with a refreshing individuality that certainly deserves a try, and may well pull you in.
Midlife Gamer Rating: 8/10
Platform: PC Release Date: 25/06/2010 (free-to-play version, Sandstorm was released in April)
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Global Agenda Sandstorm for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of fourteen days on a gaming PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.