Steam is a video game management software for your computer, which lets you buy a variety of popular video games, download them to your computer, and keep them in your digital library. While Game Monkey was browsing the deals on this year's Steam Summer Sale (an annual sale where games go 50% to 90% Off), he received an email, which prompted a spree of joyous swinging from our rafters. It took us almost 2 hours to calm him down and find out what happened! It turns out Game Monkey had been given an exclusive, insider invite to play in the very final "closed beta test" for Guild Wars 2—a month before the game even comes out. Game Monkey was ecstatic because this was the sequel to one of his favorite games released in 2005.
With excitement boiling, Game Monkey started the game download as fast as he could click. Then he saw the file size of 25 GB (gigabytes) and the estimated download time of 4 hours! Game Monkey couldn't wait!
Guid Wars 2 is an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). As with most MMORPGs, as soon as Game Monkey signed up to play and logged in to the game, he was greeted with the Character Creation Screen. Of course this is only because he is just playing for the first time. The next time Game Monkey logs in, he'll be able to swing right back into action where he left off. Game Monkey's mind was ablaze with all the ideas of the different characters he wanted to play, but first he had to pick his character's "race". You get to pick from 5 very-different races to play as: Human, a race of (surprise) humanoids on the brink of extinction having fought many losing battles and being pushed out of their home by the Charr; The Charr, a cat like race that are hostile and warlike; The Norn, a large Viking-like race of stocky humanoid people; The Asura, a race of small, grey Yoda-like (think Star Wars) creatures of high intelligence; and the Sylvari, a race of inquisitive plant-like creatures who are brand-new to the Guild Wars series.
After choosing his character's race, Game Monkey had to further develop his character by choosing a "class", or profession. There are a few classes that made it from the first game: The Elementalist, Warrior, Ranger, Necromancer, and Mesmer. New to Guild Wars 2 are the Engineer, Thief, and Guardain.
Game Monkey decided his first venture away from primate life and into the Guild Wars 2 world would be as an Asura Engineer. Lastly, Game Monkey had to answer five multiple-choice questions that helped to shape the biography and background character. He clicked the finish button and delved into his new online, alternate life as TickTock, the Asura Engineer.
As TickTock spawned in the world, he was asked to help out in a mission to stop some rouge "golems". Each race has their own, unique starting mission, so you can make new characters and try them all. After Game Monkey mastered his mission to fight a golem that was larger than his screen, he ventured to the main starting area of the game. There were many characters offering "side quests", which give you XP (experience points) and money to buy weapons and armor. Your "main quests", which progress the game's story, will come to you in the mail system in the game so keep an eye out for new mail.
Game Monkey really liked the "Dynamic Events" that would randomly occur as you adventured. Dynamic Events occurred for everyone currently exploring the world and would create effects in the game world for everyone to work together to beat. You do not "have to" help with the events, but you get achievement points for doing so, and quite frankly, they're a ton of fun.
Guild Wars 2 has a new skill system. In the original Guild Wars, you learned your skills from trainers, quests, or from elite bosses. In Guild Wars 2, you learn the skills from the various weapons and equipment you use. The more you use a weapon, the more skills you unlock for your disposal. You also have "utility skills", learned by using points gained from increasing your character's level or doing special missions that are located on the map.
Graphically, the game is just as stunning as when the first Guild Wars was released. One of the first thing you will notice when playing your first game is the art style they choose for the game. It is very stylized—using large brush strokes to make a very unique game experience, which is carried thoughout the game. Another nice effect is the animation when your character stops running or walking, which helps you to believe that the character has real weight and just feels more lifelike.
The game has very nice ambient background sounds that really help to immerse you in the world, but Game Monkey did notice a lack of any actual background music.
The game's controls are very typical of other MMORPGs, giving you access to all your skills and items on an "action bar" and allowing you complete customization over the placement of the skills and choosing what keys to activate each skill with. Nothing groundbreaking but why mess with a recipe that works!
In all, Guild Wars 2 looks very polished for still being in "beta testing". The developers have really be doing some good work! Game Monkey is looking forward to playing the game and seeing all of his readers in the "World vs. World" events. He had a blast trying out the game, which will certainly be at the top of his list of games to play when it is released on 8-28-2012.
Game Monkey gives Guild Wars 2 four out of five bananas!