Vanguard: Saga of Heroes Review (PC)

The name of the game is Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. In a sea of bigger and better MMORPGs, this one was very anticipated by many. Sigil gives it their best shot as they pair up with Sony Online Entertainment to bring the MMO world a game that certainly will keep you busy for many hours.

Raki Paladin Sunset on the beach

In most games I play, the music is the first thing that gets my attention. The loading screens have it playing before you ever see anything. Good music will get your attention and set the mood for what is to come. Vanguard manages to do this very thing. Throughout all of Vanguard, the music carried me. Occasionally it would get a little repetitive, but that is bound to happen in any game. The music and sound effects in Vanguard are varied enough and de-emphasized enough that they are there and they are important, but they do not overpower.

Where the sound sets the mood, unfortunately the graphics let it down. Now that isn't to say that the graphics aren't attractive, they are. The problem with the graphics is that no one gets to see them. In its current incarnation, you need to turn the graphics down a lot in order to run the game stably. This of course could change in the future as patches come from the developers at Sigil.

Even with the lovely graphics turned down, the world looks good. Creatures have good detail and armour has a nice shine. During fights, the graphics are timed very well with the audio. Sound and vision work well together overall in Vanguard. It is a job well done, just a shame you can't run at high quality without a very top of the line computer.

Your character is the most important thing in an MMORPG. Not only is it representative of yourself, but you also end up spending many many hours looking at this avatar. So, of course you want it to look just right. In the arena of character creation, Sigil has done both good and bad in one fell swoop. Creating your character is very detailed, but, on the downside, the character creation is very detailed. Let me explain.

When you begin the creation process, you start off with choosing your sex, race, class and server. This is pretty standard for any online game. Following this though is the body customisations. Here you can set almost any imaginable dimension of your character. From the standard height and body size to ear and cranium size, it's all here. As I mentioned though, this is also a weakness. The amount of detail you can put into a character is slightly over the top and can be rather daunting and tedious. The good news is that if you don't want to customise ever single piece, you can leave it as the default and you'll likely never notice.

Once in the world, you get your first look at the game's user interface. Normally interface isn't really worth a lot of mention, and Vanguard is no real exception. Generally the interface is okay, no major issues. It has something very interesting going for it though, customization. The UI is modifiable using XML files that define it. Over time this could bring about some interesting layouts created by people for different classes and races. It is a good feature that isn't seen enough in MMOs in my opinion.

Treasure? My things will be safe here at the bank. Right?

The world around you is lush, beautiful and vast. No, really, vast is a slight understatement. The world of Telon encompasses 3 main land masses that make up the world currently; Qalia, Kojan and Thestra. Of course, depending on your race, you will start in any one of the many major cities that dots the landscape of this very large world.

The world is immense, but there are several ways to travel, such as on foot, or by boat or horse, if you'd like to see the world as you go quickly along. There are also teleports in some of the larger cities. These teleports help you get around to other parts of the world a little easier, especially if you're trying to meet up with the guild you just joined. Sigil has managed to strike a good balance with the travel options in Vanguard. It isn't too easy to get around in general, but at the same time you are able to easily enough join your friends and play together.

When you're not running around being heroic with your guild and friends, you need something else to do. This is where the harvesting and crafting skills come in. Obviously these two skills work hand in hand. Harvesting can be done while you're out hunting and isn't terribly exciting and no real player skill is needed. You can harvest a variety of things from a variety of sources, such as skinning a snake or mining some ore. The crafting system is interesting in its structure, such as fixing problems during the crafting process, but there is a lot of clicking involved. Overall the crafting and harvesting system isn't bad, but it isn't very exciting either.

One of my favourite skills in Vanguard is the diplomacy system. Fame systems in most games are usually very simple and are just simple 'do quests til person likes me' type affairs. With the diplomacy system this gets taken a step further. With the diplomacy system of cards you are a little more involved. In essence it is as close as I've seen to real time conversation with an NPC in a game. The card system is easy to understand and it's possible to get additional cards to broaden your 'deck'.

The social side of Vanguard is well thought out. Besides the obvious guilds option you have the ability to look for groups to team with. There are regional and local chat options also, so asking questions outside your immediate friends grouping is made easy. Unfortunately the Fellowship functionality is disabled, but I'm sure that will change in the future as the game is developed.

Every MMO has problems with its client, bugs, crashes, patches, Vanguard is no exception. The unfortunate thing for Vanguard is that it seems to be worse for wear in its current state. As mentioned earlier, the graphics cause a lot of problems for many, me included. Random crashes are a common occurrence for some also. The good thing about an MMO though is that patches happen. If the company is on the ball they happen regularly. Sigil and its developers currently seem to be on the ball and patch regularly to fix not only gameplay issues, but client issues also. This kind of consistent work from Sigil will help to carry Vanguard along.

What a lovely night I may be small but I'll still kick your butt

Overall Vanguard isn't a bad game, but it doesn't really bring anything new to the table of the MMO industry. While there are many races and classes to choose from, they seem to be variations on the standard theme of fighter, magic user, healer and rogue. The progression is heavily quest based and doesn't leave a lot of room for doing much if you want to progress in levels at any kind of efficient speed. Unfortunately also the story seems to be lacking and doesn't give much in the way of explaining your existence in this lovely world that your character calls home, and that is a shame. The future for Vanguard could be a bright one if Sigil continues down this road of constant development and improvement.

Top Game Moment:
Damn, crashed again! Time to turn the graphics way down.