Global Agenda Impressions - Shooting and Character Classes

We take a look at this massively multiplayer third-person shooter at E3 2009.


Global Agenda

There are tons of games on display at E3 2009, like Global Agenda, the first-person shooter from publisher/developer Hi-Rez Studios. Global Agenda is a massively multiplayer third-person shooter that takes place in a futuristic, 22nd-century version of Earth that has been all but conquered by a power-hungry government known as the Commonwealth. There are only a few outstanding provinces that have not yet been assimilated, and these groups resist capture by hiring extremely powerful and deadly supersoldiers called "agents" to fight for them. The Commonwealth has responded by hiring agents of its own. You'll play as one of these agents in the game.

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Who's Making This Game: Self-funded freshman studio Hi-Rez Studios was founded by enterprising software engineers looking to create something more interesting than business solutions. This is the studio's first game, but because it's footing its own bill, Hi-Rez claims it's "taking its time" with bringing the game to market.

What The Game Looks Like: Global Agenda looks like a very colorful first-person shooter reminiscent of Unreal Tournament; the characters are neon-pastel-colored armor-wearing space soldiers who carry bulky, sci-fi-looking guns that fire plasma blasts and lightning bolts. You start your life as a prisoner of the Commonwealth who is liberated by freedom fighters that blast open the prison chamber, which is full of other unfortunate bodies strapped to futuristic-looking medical equipment.

What There Is To Do: You can visit neutal "town" areas to socialize with other players and get missions, and you can gain up to 20 experience levels at launch, which will earn you additional character points to unlock specific skills on your character's skill tree, such as enhanced toughness as well as new weapons and apparel items. However, you'll primarily spend your time in three types of gameplay environments: player-versus-environment missions in which you fight computer-controlled enemies; player-verus-player missions in which you fight other players; and alliance campaigns, in which large groups of allied players clash with each other over in-game territory in long-term battles that Hi-Rez suggests will last a month or two.

How The Game Is Played: Global Agenda is a third-person shooter that also lets you use a variety of melee weapons (and lets you defensively block melee attacks when you're wielding a melee weapon). There are four primary character classes: assault, a heavy-weapons ranged specialist; recon, a stealthy sniper; medic, a healing class that can also poison enemies; and robotic, an engineer class that can built turrets and robot "pet" creatures to go forth and fight. Every character can carry up to eight equipment items: a melee weapon, a ranged weapon, a "specialty" weapon that's specially suited to your profession's skill set (such as a heavy minigun for the assault class), the jetpack (which lets you fly for a limited time but leaves you unable to fire any weapons), and four additional off-hand weapons or items, such as grenades. Interestingly, in addition to jumping and crouching, you can grab on to ledges and pull yourself up them, though your best mobility option will be your jetpack, which your character will receive at the very outset of the game. The game does model falling damage, but most falls don't do a great deal of damage, which probably opens up a few interesting strategic possibilities that involve giving yourself a jetpack lift, then switching out to a weapon and blasting away in freefall.

What They Say: Lead designer Erez Goren suggests that the player-versus-environment game won't require tons of hours of investment to get to the highest character level; again, the game will launch with a maximum level of about 20, and each level should take, according to Goren, an hour or two to complete. In addition, even though it's a shooter, having "pinpoint accuracy" isn't crucial to the game, since it's an online game that's still subject to lag from varying connections, yet players of varying skill levels should be able to play just fine. Their choice of profession won't be determined by any rigorous game requirement, but rather by each player's individual style. Says Goren, "As you can tell, this isn't your average MMO."

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What We Say: Global Agenda looks interesting and its de-emphasis on precise aim and lightning reflexes seems like a smart move for a game that's trying to build up a massively multiplayer audience. The game is currently scheduled to ship by year's end.

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