Guild Wars: Factions casts you once again in a brilliant world full of exciting combat and colorful characters.

User Rating: 9.3 | Guild Wars Factions PC
When the original Guild Wars launched in 2005, no one truly anticipated the impact it would have on the online gaming industry. While not as substantial as World of Warcraft, it stood alone as a remarkable gaming masterpiece. The same fine-tuning can be seen in NCSoft's latest hard work in making Guild Wars: Factions.

What gamers would first need to understand, is that even though Factions is considered to be an "expansion," it is not dependant on the original game to be played. In fact, Factions stands alone just as well, if not better, than the original. Much of the world is beautifully designed, a hallmark of NCsoft's world-builder talents already seen in the original product. The updated user Interface (which affects the already existing Guild Wars product, as well) makes it much easier to read the data in front of your face, as well as being able to quickly determine state-effects and their impacts on fellow players and allies. The character models are also just as brilliant as they were in the original, as especially seen in the new Ritualist and Assassin professions. Everything from bells and whistles, to the animations in combat and emotes truly shines in this game.

If there's one thing that particularly shines in this game, it is the music and sound. Guild Wars: Factions without a doubt has one of the most beautiful musical scores to date in a video game, and the upgraded sound channels makes the sound effects immerse you in real-time combat. Everything from the shouts and grunts of your characters, to the clashing and shattering of blades sounds so incredible, you'd often wish it were in a movie. The environmental ambience has been taken to the next level with Factions, making it seem more like you're in a fantasy world than anywhere else. It is too bad they could not have accomplished the same achievement originally with the core game.

The Ritualist and the Assassin are the two new professions contained within this game, and they both introduce a new form of gameplay to factions. While at first glance, the Ritualist may appear to be a hybrid of skills between a Ranger and Necromancer, it's abilities stand out far beyond both professions without becoming unbalancing to the game itself. Able to summon spirits to both aid in combat, and buff character performance, the Ritualist is a handy class to have in your party at all times. Unique in this type of game-series is the Assassin, which utilizes the ability to unleash lethal state-inducing combat attacks. All of this is often conducted while dashing around the battlefield with clever tricks that include but are not limited to teleportation, vanishing, and high-speed sprinting over short distances.

The new missions and quests provide a whole new experience for players to indulge themselves in the moment they step into the world of Cantha. Some of them expand upon the original missions by giving tougher challenges to complete as secondary objectives, such as completing missions in a certain amount of time, or preventing a negligible ally from falling in battle. If you've already played through all of the original Guild Wars and are seeking something new and challenging to quench your thirst for more content, then Guild Wars: Factions has enough to keep you entertained for hours. In some of these missions, you will gain alignment faction with the two warring parties on the continent of Cantha. This can later affect your affiliation with guilds and alliances who may have weight with an opposing faction to your own.

New and Exclusive to GW: Factions are Alliances. Guilds can take up arms in Alliances and work together to achieve mutual goals, such as holding up territories in Cantha in support of their aligned faction. This brings the already competitive nature of Guild Wars' PvP to an all-new level, pitting players who may have once been friends against each other in an attempt to thwart each other's faction. This could very well be the best PvP system ever implemented in an online RPG.

New to Factions are a host of new guild halls islands to explore and purchase for your guild, though none of them are more strategically more important than the ones from the original Guild Wars. All the same, however, they're quite a sight to see, and are often times worth the effort in gaining for your Guilds and Alliances.

If you've never played Guild Wars before and wish to give it a try, look no further than Guild Wars: Factions. Even if you have not played the original game, both the story and gameplay stand alone just as well if not better than its predecessor. Even with the Collectors Edition delayed until June, buying the currently existing game would not be a waste of your money or time, especially with many of the bonus contents of the Collectors Edition already existing online for digital download. Guild Wars: Factions is sure to please fans of the Fantasy RPG genre and keep existing Guild Wars veterans entertained for hours at a time.