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And the Factions concept works particularly well because Guild Wars has always been a competitive game. The Player Vs Player element is practically a separate option: you actually create a new specialized PvP character for it, who starts automatically with a range of skills and equipment at level 20. The feel is as much like a multiplayer FPS as it is an RPG, partly because the game types take in variations on deathmatch and capture the flag, and you can compete in random matches, team battles or in grand tournaments that see groups from Europe battling rivals from Asia and America. If ever there was a game that reminded you that there’s no I in TEAM, this is it. In a game where combat isn’t reactions-based a balance of styles is vital, while healing and resurrection skills are desperately important.
As you’ve probably gathered there’s an awful lot to deal with here, but if there’s one thing I want you to take away from this review, it’s that Factions is a spectacularly entertaining game. It’s as compulsive and addictive as any MMO I can mention, but it doesn’t make you work nearly as hard as some before you have your fun. True, it doesn’t have the wider social aspects of World of Warcraft or Everquest or the complex crafting options. Nor is it as full of riotous self-expression as City Of Heroes. Yet I’d be hard pushed to recommend a better MMO for those who want a game rather than a secondary job and lifestyle. It’s the sort of experience that stays on your mind long after you stop playing, and one you can’t wait to get back to when you find yourself with an hour or two to spare. So, while I might never write that definitive review, I can still see myself in Cantha three months down the line. Guild Wars: Factions is that good.
Factions takes the irresistible, accessible gameplay of Guild Wars one stage further, and ties it to a beautiful oriental setting. Maybe other MMOs have the edge on social life and long-term depth, but this one was built for pure enjoyment, not employment.