Guild Wars: Eye of the North
|a game by||NCsoft - North America|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 2 votes|
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|See also:||Best MMORPG, Guild Wars Series|
When Guild Wars first burst into our lives, it gripped. It gripped with an unholy force, a combined power of relentless energy, refreshingly free-to-play financial models, and sheer, undiluted, unending waves of purest Game.
A refreshing release from World of Warcraft, launched mere months earlierand only just showing the first malevolent signs of its soon-to-be all-powerful dominance of everything online. Guild Wars - in some ways the spiritual bastard child of Diablo, Magic: The Gathering and Everquest -fooled many right out of the trap with its traditional fantasy MMO trappings, a distracting sheepskin that cunningly masked attention from the true competitive gaming/ e-sports underbelly that was waiting to pounce on us once our backs were turned and sink its addictive fangs into those skulls that weren't already in the thrall of the skill-juggling, constant progression, noh-Korean pro-gaming clan-friendly PvE game.
It soon became most people's second' MMO behind IVOIV, and even to this day you'll often find a cry going up from the most hardened of ZONE forumites offering to 'put the band back together' and trot out for one last final, this time we mean it farewell tour of Tyria and its suburbs.
There's something just so eminently likeable about Guild Wars. You want it to do well, even when common sense tells you that you'll never be able to compete in the PvP side as everyone online is infinitely better than you, and the high-level game does become one hell of a grind. At least this latter aspect is being addressed by GWEN, the craftily abbreviated name for the new expansion pack. And before you all say, "What another one?" this is actually the first True' Guild Wars expansion in the traditional sense of the phrase. Previous iterations (Factions and Nightfall! were separate, stand-alone campaigns, re-imaginings if you will that still allowed access to the original core but gave players a pick and choose mentality to the way they could approach this world.
Eye of the North differs in that it requires ownership of a previous version of GW and is only accessible to characters that have worked their way to the 20th, and ultimate, level of the game, not counting the insta-win PvP-only alts that litter the killing fields of the tournament game.
Story is king for GW:EN. with a carefully plotted, three pronged campaign to unite the forces of man in the north of the world and ally with the new Dwarves, Norn and Asura; the recruitment of each new race providing the three separate paths in the overall Kill the new iiber-beastie' story arc.
Well told they are too, with a new emphasis on in-game cut scenes topping and tailing most of the major quests, plenty of human drama provided by your new 'Hero' followers that can make up your party of eight (along with fellow players or much improved from an Al standpoint NPC henchmen), and a well thought out sense of progression that never leaves the player feeling at a loss.
The Fourth Wall
Negative points come in the usually rocksolid ArenaNet presentation. For all the enhanced playability, there's much here that seems to be lacking polish or care. Bugs abound (although these are forever being patched as is the review score-blighting way of MMO updating), odd immersion-breaking moments arise such as having Heroes that weren't in your party suddenly appear in a mid-mission cut scene because the writers didn't consider the possibility you'd choose someone else to fight alongside, some Heroes occurring twice in an instance (such as Ogden the Dwarf and Vekk the Asura in the new Hall of Monuments), but by and large this is forgivable, if disappointing, as this is a series that's always prided itself on getting these sorts of things just right.
The meat is really in providing the high-level toons with a reward for sticking with the game so far (albeit a reward you have to pay for), plenty of stunning new locations and dungeons to explore showing that what is essentially a five-year-old graphics engine (if you include original development time) can still compete with the top-end boys, a wealth of new skills to provide plenty of sleepless build balancing' nights and Pokemon-tyie gotta catch 'em all' hunts for rabid PvP loons to go after, and the usual array of new armour, weapons, and shiny baubles to adorn yourself with. And still, at the heart of it all, just a damn fine, playable game, overblessed with the one more go' factor and a joyful sense of reward vs effort put in.
Plus it stars the vocal talents of Maurice 'Brain from Pinky and the Brain' LaMarche, for which it should be carried shoulder-high and given all the vestal virgins it can eat. Truly the man is a god among cartoon-voicing men.
Download Guild Wars: Eye of the North
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Eye Of The North is an explosive end-of-season-style expansion pack - success in which, and indeed the rest of the Guild Wars canon, will filter into Guild Wars 2. Noobs should look away now.
Whereas Prophecies. Factions and Nightfall were separate, yet linked, chapters where anyone could start off a new character, Eye Of The North is designed solely for max-level characters. It's being built as a stepping stone for both the existing community and the GW storyline in the lead up to the all-guns-blazing sequel. It introduces villains and big bad evils, bigging up the Human and Charr races, while introducing the Asura and the Norn (all of whom shall be playable come the advent of the sequel), and giving its famed instanced gameplay an almighty send off.
Beyond the 150 new unlockable player skills, 18 individual dungeons set in the Prophecies lands and the usual gamut of fresh mobs, weapons and stat-infested armour, there's also GW2 inheritance to think of. You'll be granted digs up in the northern bits of Ascalon, you see, and here you'll discover a Hall of Monuments that reflects your achievements throughout the entire span of the Guild Wars canon.
For every pedestal you fill, there'll be an unlock waiting for you in the sequel as inheritance - and seeing as you're in a fantasy land, Gordon Brown can't snatch a penny of it. Not that he'd be able to do much with passed down mini-pets, clothing, weapons and companions apart from perhaps sell them on eBay. But there you go...