Global Agenda has come a long way since it was first released. Originally designed to be a subscription-based pseudo MMO, the game has since shifted directions and adopted a completely free to play business structure. However, unlike most other so-called ďfree to playĒ games, Global Agenda doesnít cop out with a ďpay to winĒ business structure, nor does it limit what sort of content the player has access to. This is a refreshing change of pace in the world of free to play gaming, and something I hope other developers follow suit on.
But, enough about that Ė letís just get right down business.
Global Agenda is a class-based third person shooter, and places a strong emphasis on fast paced team-oriented gameplay. What sets Global Agenda apart from the pack is the use of an excellent melee system, coupled with the fact that every class has access to a jetpack. As a result of all of this, the game bares a striking resemblance to the cult classic shooter Starsiege: Tribes, albeit with generally smaller maps to compensate for the smaller maximum number of players.
Players gain experience from completing matches against other players or the computer, gaining access to new devices and earning additional talent points. There are four classes at present, each with their own unique customizable talent trees and appearances. Each class serves a unique purpose, and all four are capable of playing defensive, support, or assault roles, though each in their own unique way. As an example, the medic class can be specíd into a support healer role, an offensive plague-bringer role, or a melee hybrid capable of group healing & melee face smashing. Similarly, a Recon can be specíd to be a dual-wielding, back-stabbing melee beast, a stealthy long-range sniper, or a bomb-chucking, mine-laying maniacal lunatic.
As a man who lives to watch the world burn, Iíll let you guess which of the above examples I play most.
Each class has a limited number of equipment slots, meaning that the player must decide what sort of weapons and devices they bring into battle. This equipment limit plays well with the gameís customizable talent tree, ultimately resulting in players honing their characters to fit their own unique style of play.
The gameplay itself is very well refined, fast paced, and enjoyable. The classes are all properly balanced, every class spec serves a purpose in battle, and the matchmaking system is fantastic at creating balanced matches between players of largely equivalent skill. Jetpacks give the game an extra dimension of combat to exploit, and the maps all reflect the added freedom of movement through the use of tall vertical environments. Melee weapons break up the norm of typical ranged warfare, providing a unique and visceral experience that I have yet to experience in any other shooter, free-to-play or otherwise.
There are currently 50 levels in Global agenda, though one feature that I really appreciate is that leveling up doesnít mean necessarily mean gaining additional power. While itís true that the player gains new talent points every so often prior to level 30, the player doesnít gain flat out extra damage per level, or extra hit points. Instead, the player simply gains access to a broader variety of weapons and devices over time, as well as somewhat improved combat abilities through the use of talents. The end result of this is that a level 10 play is just as capable of topping the scoreboards as a level 20, and that level 30 players are just as good as level 50s.†
While the game does have player vs. environment content, itís not at all a mandatory aspect of Global Agenda, since leveling and gearing can be done entirely through PVP mercenary matches. However, itís important to note that crafting materials can only be acquired by either buying them off of the auction house, or by prying them from the cold dead hands of PVE robots. Fortunately, the PVE combat is nicely done, though it can admittedly get a repetitive if you overdo it.†
Currently there are several different forms of PVE gameplay Ė the player can run a solo dungeon, tackle a dungeon with a group of friends, participate in a dome defense ďraidĒ, or roam the desert in an MMO-themed open zone. Each match type offers a different style of play, through the instanced dungeons are the most commonly played PVE types. In addition, the solo & group dungeons can be played under a number of different difficulty settings, with higher difficulty settings posing an extreme challenge, as well as providing the best loot.
There are also several different PVP matches. Players can queue up for 4v4 arenas, participate in the Agency vs Agency global conquest system, or join a casual 10v10 Mercenary match. However, mercenary matches seem to be the most commonly played form of PVP, and consists of several different game types ranging from point defense, capture the robot, payload, and more. Each game type has a host of different maps, and while thereís plenty of variety overall, it would be nice to see a few more maps added. Hi-Rez seems to agree, and has been putting in an effort to release new maps on a semi-regular basis, even if the new maps might not be coming out as frequently as I might prefer.
The graphics are smooth, colorful, and vibrant. Explosions look decent, but are scaled back so that the player doesnít need a top of the line PC in order to run the game smoothly. The sound is similarly appropriate, and while it wonít be winning any awards any time soon, itís more than satisfactorily to get the job done.
The user interface is easy to understand for most MMO veterans, but may take a moment or two for FPS gamers to get the hang of. However, the UI as a whole remains surprisingly intuitive, and the built in tutorial does a fantastic job of introducing the player to both the general user interface, as well as the general concepts behind both gear and gameplay. Even a complete gaming newbie should fully understand how to play the game by the end of the short and well-designed tutorial.
The biggest gripe that I have with the Free Agent model is that, while you can play the game to the max level for free, itís an extremely slow, albeit enjoyable, grind. Paying to play the game solves this problem by increasing the rate at which the player gains experience, credits and loot, as well as granting the player access to the gameís Auction House system. So while paying to play isnít really mandatory, it does make the overall experience much more enjoyable, and is something I canít imagine any serious players forgoing.
Iíll also note that a number of veteran shooters who tried Global Agenda with me were pretty vocal about the fact that the game doesnít have separate hit boxes for head shots. While I can understand their complaint, I just donít really feel that headshots are required for a game like Global Agenda, especially given the nature of the third-person perspective style of combat. However, despite lacking headshots, the game does at least have back shots, meaning that if a player hits another player in the back with a melee weapon, theyíll deal bonus damage and inflict a secondary effect. As an example, if an Assault player hits an opponent with their fire axe, it will set that opponent on fire.
And I hope we can all agree that the ability to wield a giant flaming axe of doom that incinerates all who stand before you makes up for the absence of headshots, even if only slightly.
Honestly, thereís not much I can say to criticize Global Agenda: Free Agent. Itís a fantastic game, you can play it for free with your friends as long as you want, and while it can get a little repetitive if you play it too much, itís the type of game that you can play every day and still enjoy it. If youíre looking for a casual shooter that you can play with a group of buddies, do yourself a favor and give Global Agenda a try. You wonít regret it.†