Guild Wars: Eye of the North PC Review

Before I kick this review off, it’s worth noting that I’m a total sucker for two things – Guild Wars, and snow. Snow, because we never actually get any of the blessed stuff in the UK, and Guild Wars because it’s a really solid online role-playing game that lets you play at your own pace instead of bringing you to a point where you’re forced to get 59 other nerds together every single night for weeks on end if you want to achieve any kind of result. So, what the chaps at ArenaNet have gone and done is combined two of my favourite things and put them in a box, which is pretty difficult to complain about. But this is meant to be a review, so I’ll see what I can come up with.

Guild Wars: Eye of the North is an expansion to the Guild Wars series – and you can put a special emphasis on ‘expansion’ there, because unlike the other releases in the series (which all functioned as stand-alone titles), Eye of the North requires one of said previous titles to work. And the entry requirements don’t stop there – in order to actually see any of Eye of the North’s content, you’ve got to have a level 20 character – leaving my poor level 15 Dervish feeling very frustrated and confused as she ran around trying to figure out if the expansion had even been installed properly or not.

This isn’t so much a criticism, of course, as a warning – if you’ve not played Guild Wars before, Eye of the North has nothing to offer you until you’ve put the hours in, and this certainly could’ve been made clearer on the box. Or in the instructions. Or in the game.

Still, once you do get there, there’s plenty to get your teeth into. New items, new abilities (over 150 of them, apparently), and few new races thrown in as a teaser for the upcoming Guild Wars 2. Sadly, you can’t actually play as any of them, but they’re a nice addition nonetheless. First up there’s the Norn, a bunch of really tall warrior-types who don’t seem to wear much clothing despite living in the mountains; the Asura, a load of scruffy Stitch-lookalikes who are really short but good with magic and making big robots; and the dwarves, who are… well, dwarves. Okay, so clearly ArenaNet aren’t trying to forge a massively original world here, but at least those of you with a fetish for tall, scantily-clad female warriors are catered for.

So that’ll be all of us, then.

There are also plenty of quests to keep you busy, and the game retains its winning trait of allowing you to be massively anti-social and just form a team of computer-controlled characters to help you out, instead of forcing you to put up with real people or spend half an hour looking for a suitable group to join. Not to mention that some of the game’s environments are genuinely stunning, even on a relatively modest PC like mine that managed to literally set itself on fire a fortnight ago.

At the time of writing, most high-street shops seem to be happy to sell Eye of the North at the RRP of £24.99, which seems a little steep for an add-on pack. But then, the entry requirements serve as a kind of litmus test for whether or not you should pick it up – if you’ve not played Guild Wars, or played it and didn’t like it, steer clear (though it’s worth noting that the earlier instalments in the series can be found fairly cheap now, and all come highly recommended). But if you’ve played it before and enjoyed it enough to reach level 20, then you’ll get a lot out of Eye of the North – certainly enough to justify the price tag.

More of the same, but in this case that’s no bad thing. Just make sure it’ll let you play, first.

8 out of 10
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