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Tue 1 Aug 2006 04:00 AM

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Guild Wars: Factions

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Hardcore RPGs only

PRICE $46

CONTACT +9714 284 4665

WEB www.guildwars.com

Controller Keyboard and mouse

requirements WinXP/2000, 1GHz+ CPU, 512Mbytes RAM, CD-ROM drive, 2Gbytes disk space, ATI Radeon 9000 or GeForce 4 video card with 64Mbytes VRAM, net connection

Best Bit Factions contains some very tough levels, complete with bad boss monsters verdict Likely to appeal to hardcore PvP players rather than casual role players.

4/5

Factions is the second installment for the Guild Wars universe from NCsoft and ArenaNet, and although it introduces two new character classes and a whole bundle of new abilities and skills, it is essentially a standalone expansion with a new campaign added on.

It’s pretty good value though, as you only pay once for the new game, and can then play online as much as you like, with no monthly fees.

In the new campaign, set around the continent of Cantha, you’ll tasked with investigating a strange plague that is ravaging the land.

It’s not the most original plot ever, nor the best told, but the game world is huge, with some imaginative locations and all based on a broadly oriental theme.

Gameplay in Guild Wars is very much focused on team play.

Many players simply battle one another on the Battle Isles, a dedicated player versus player (PvP) continent.

Even in relation to its role playing campaign, the game feels like a PvP release as you often face mixed groups of monsters with skills similar to player characters.

You’ll need to mix your abilities to match these threats, and you’ll also need to master chaining skills together in powerful combo attacks.

This takes gameplay beyond simple hack and slash, but it can be daunting for a novice player to get into PvP games.

Unlike some online games, in Guild Wars, missions are played in dedicated, private areas either with a team of other players or computer controlled NPCs if you prefer – you won’t find other players wandering into your missions and causing grief.

Also, you can’t attack your own team mates, nor can you attack anyone in towns.

This means there isn’t any real ‘player killing’ going on, which is a relief, although there are still plenty of con-artists offering dodgy trades for items.

It’s a good idea to check out the Guild Wars wiki to learn more about these.

As for playing Factions online (and you have to be online all the time you are playing), Windows tested the game in the UAE using a 512Kbps eCompany broadband connection.

There weren’t too many problems with lag, although characters and monsters did occasionally jump as the game struggled to keep up.

More annoying however was losing the connection every few hours – with Factions’ emphasis on team play and co-operation, if you keep disappearing from missions because of a lost connection, you won’t stay very popular with fellow players for long.

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