Guest writer Kevin Dudenbostel recently paid a visit to Hi-Rez Studios to get a preview of their upcoming MMOFPS Global Agenda. Read on for his impressions og the game and of the team behind it.
When The MMO Gamer was invited to visit Hi-Rez Studios for a sneak peak at their upcoming game, Global Agenda, I was very interested in the prospect of going.
But, before we get into that, let me tell you a little about the game itself, and the people who are going to bring it to us.
Hi-Rez Studios is a US-based company located in the state of Georgia, just outside of Atlanta.
Founded in 2005, they have grown to become a large-scale operation, drawing away employees from several other MMO studios.
The CEO of Hi-Rez is a man named Erez Goren. His dream was to create his own video games, and now he’s trying to make good on it.
Erez started writing software back in the late 1980s, with one of the first a baseball games for the Atari 400. After college he started a number of successful business ventures, using the proceeds to found Hi-Rez.
Helping make Erez’s dream come true is a group of around fifty people headed by Todd Harris. Todd, whose office is decorated with spy movie posters, is the executive producer for the game.
Enough about Hi-Rez! Let us take a tour of Global Agenda. My very first impression of Global Agenda, from skimming the website and watching some in-game movies, was that it was just another Unreal Tournament clone.
But, having seen it now in person, Global Agenda goes above and beyond what Unreal is. Using their own motion capture studio to do all the animations, Hi-Rez is making a unique game built on the Unreal 3 engine. Michal Adam, the public relations manager, even pitched in and did the animations for the female medic, which is her favorite class.
GA is set in the future of Earth. The current governments of today have faded away, and new powers seek to control the citizens. Technology has progressed leaps and bounds, especially in the field of robotics. Although there are new governments, like the controlling Commonwealth, Global Agenda characters will be working for companies called Agencies. These Agencies are built of people banded together to try and take over the world in epic campaigns.
Built up on four founding layers of gameplay, Global Agenda is trying to provide something for everyone.
The first layer is action. Each class provides a different way to play, and each mission gives you a wide variety of things to do.
The second layer is character development. With the inclusion of the RPG-style elements you can create a wide variety of characters not seen in traditional FPS games. This can branch into fun for the traditional roleplayer, by having to build your character, or frustration for the traditional FPS player, by not having access to all the cool guns.
The third layer is teamwork. With goals in each mission and for each agency you will get to work with friends to accomplish things you wouldn’t be able to by yourself.
The final layer will be the large-scale warfare. With 45-day campaigns, or seasons, Agencies will compete with each other to be the best and bring honor and fame to their members. Something a player who prefers to solo may not get to experience.
Characters are created from four base classes. The weapon-master Assault class, wielding anything from rocket launchers to miniguns is the damage dealer. Engineers are the masters of robotics, they can throw down a shield to protect teammates from fire while deploying deadly turrets. Medics run behind their teammates healing them and engaging in biological warfare against their enemies. And, the last thing you ever see could be the stealthy Recon class; equipped with a sniper rifle and invisibility cloak.
Each class has more than enough skill options to give them a wide variety, leaning towards eight or more unique builds in total. Each character has a family name. This “family” includes your entire, account and ensures all of your characters are in the same Agency, fighting for the same goals.
Each comes with their own jet pack for quick travel on maps, and has their own specialties. But, with only four to choose from you may feel a bit limited when creating a new character.
These agencies set the central theme of the fast action Player vs. Player for the game. You can freelance yourself if you desire, but the most rewarding action comes from the Agency battles. With groups of around 10 you fight for and defend key points on a larger map.
The larger-scale battles are alliance against alliance, or Agency vs. Agency. These larger battles are part of 45 day campaigns that Agencies participate in to win prestige and awards for themselves and their members. Each “season” provides a goal to accomplish for teams and provides bonuses if they dominate.
Even if nobody from your agency or alliance is online for you to fight with, Global Alliance provides players options to freelance for the government and join groups of random players to fight with and against. Even though PvP is the central theme for an FPS-style game, there is a support role for your characters in the Player vs. Environment.
PvE is used for orientation of new members, class missions for learning how to use upgrades, and learning team building skills. With such little PvE, some casual players may find themselves out of the loop.
All this talk about PvP casual players may be thinking, “I’m no twitch gamer there is no way I can compete with all the 13 year old players!” Well, Global Agenda has added a few things to deal with this. Not only is there a rich RPG-style character progression to gain better equipment but high-end characters as well as low-end characters are limited to how much gear can be used in a match.
Leveling in the game gives you access to new weapons and abilities, but you can’t use them all in every battle. With such limits, the long time player may have access to some of the better weapons in game but they will be limited on some of the smaller items like mines or grenades which are also essential to a well rounded game.
GA also has a well implemented melee system that is useful and easy to learn. When the other team deploys a projectile shield you better get in close with your battle-axe and tear them up. When playing with the experienced alpha testers I found melee a nice twist to the traditional FPS game that gives more depth and gameplay to the normal point and shoot of the genre.
Global Agenda does a nice job of blending RPG and FPS to create a game that anyone can jump in casually and play a good game. The depth of character building and agency campaigns will allow you to enjoy the game for a long time to come. Even after playing an hour with the alpha testers I am very excited about the ease one can get into Global Agenda.
Offering aspects of traditional games that allow most gamers, casual to experienced, to have a place to play brings a lot to the table.