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Guild Wars: Nightfall
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that like the previous Guild Wars massively multiplayer online games (MMOG), combat is an integral part of the game. Players attack and kill computer and human-controlled opponents with swords, and other medieval weaponry, but there's no blood. Parents also should be aware that outfits and players can remove their character's clothes down to their underwear. There is a filter, but online communication can be unpredictable. Unlike other MMOGs, however, there's no monthly subscription fee.
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What's it about?
GUILD WARS: NIGHTFALL is the third in a series of games that allow the player to explore, quest, and fight in an online mythical world. In the role of a fantasy hero, players battle solo or in groups against monsters and other players.
From a menu of options, players choose their hero's physical and combat attributes, including skin color, hair style, magical abilities, and fighting skills. Players take their hero on quests to defeat monsters, which awards experience, new abilities, improved clothing and weapons, and game currency. The missions are easy by design, so that if necessary they can be completed without the help of other players.
Is it any good?
Nightfall's first-rate campaign takes place in Elona, an area adjoining the original Guild Wars' play region, Tyria. The player becomes the hero seeking to prevent a mysterious event called Nightfall, which will return an evil godlike being to the world. Of the three Guild Wars games, Nightfall's story is the strongest and most satisfying to finish. The game also introduces Heroes, computer controlled henchmen that can help players on their quests.
As with other Guild Wars games, end-game content revolves around player versus player (PvP) combat. But, unlike many MMOGs, successful PvP play doesn't depend on players having better equipment or character abilities; characters come with the highest level of both these things, so that success relies on skill, strategic thinking and teamwork, and not just on equipment quality.
Nightfall is a MMOG, but only loosely; the only thing that's "massively multiplayer" about it are the towns where players congregate to go on quests or PvP. The actual game areas are "instanced," meaning that individuals and teams get their own copy of the world in which to quest by themselves. This makes the game cheaper to produce and thus free to play, but the trade off is that it prevents potential random encounters with other people. Interaction with the game population happens only in the towns, providing less opportunity to form unplanned "pick-up" groups.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about online safety with their teens. Why is it important to maintain privacy while online? Is everyone always who they claim to be? What does effect does online anonymity have on people's behavior? Families can also discuss the unique business model of the Guild Wars franchise. How can an online game make money if no one pays a subscription fee?