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World Of Warcraft
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While it has indeed set the standard of all MMORPGs, WOW suffers from a chronic lack of one veeeery important aspect of a game: gameplay! In no other MMORPG is the grind so dull or obvious. Guild Wars masks it with excellent combat [at the loss of some other aspects], EQII with distractingly pretty graphics and LOTRO with a more quest-based system. WOW however, is unashamed in it's reliance on the grind in place of real, story-driven gameplay. For this reason, it does not deserve more than 2 stars. If it revolved around questing as well as a bit of the inescapable grind, then it would merit a full 5, but it just plain doesn't.
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2
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It's like GRAW . . . but better. A lot better. A whole host of new weapons, better rocket launchers, a better cross-com system, better multiplayer and better assets.
It is a graphical masterpiece. Most levels are very consistent and make full use of the improved engine with HDR lighting, advanced shadows and very high resolution textures and polygons. However, physics has yet to be implemented properly in the Xbox 360 version.
The game is an aural sensation. All the weapons have distinctive, accurate sounds, choppers chop, tanks rumble and jets roar spectacularly. A range of music is in game to accompany different situations, so a stealthy section will merit a suitably subtle piece of music.
The famous gunrides are no longer just filler content - they are nowhere near as tedious and look absolutely spectacular.
Multiplayer is a real blast. You can jump into a much wider variety of matches with the whole range of campaign [and other] weapons. It also makes full use of the game engine, whereas multiplayer in GRAW had some problems with framerate and antialiasing; GRAW 2 has no such problems.
Overall, this game merits 5 stars for a thrilling campaign, fantastic graphics and a highly addictive and tense multiplayer mode.
Guild Wars: Prophecies
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Returning to Guild Wars after 2 years of playing it and other, "truer" MMORPGs, it is still a good game. Not great, mind you, but good. There's plenty of content, a relatively friendly community and many good hours of play, plus the excellent PvP system. However - it can get very repetitive. The grind is still here despite the claims and the level 20 cap is somewhat low compared to other games.
Good after all this time, but not great anymore. Keep your eyes out for the next expansion and Guild Wars 2 though.
The Lord Of The Rings Online: Shadows Of Angmar
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This is the WOW slayer for sure. If it doesn't do it outright [and with at least two years worth of free content and a cheaper subscription, it's hard to see it not doing so] then it will surely start the fall of the leviathan WOW.
It's supremely beautiful, perfectly balanced and huge, with less than a fifth of Middle-Earth opened up at release.
Most of all, IT IS BUG-FREE. This is going to give other MMORPG devs a run for their money, as Turbine will now be able to focus 100% on the content of the game.
It works absolutely fine on Windows Vista and requires only a moderately good rig to get the best out of graphically and aurally.
Watch out WOW - now is the hour when you fall.