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GuildWars: Nightfall, a DVD-ROM in English by NCSoft for ArenaNet, distributed with a 144-page English-language user's manual by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires Windows XP and a 1 ghz Pentium III PC or better and a speedy Internet connection, for ages 12 through adult, NIS 220.
Although I am not a teenage boy or adult male and thus not enthralled with on-line gaming, I am always amazed by the option of playing a videogame not only alone but also in real time over the Internet any time of the day or night against unidentified strangers on the other side of the world.
In GuildWars: Nightfall, the MMPORG ("massive multiplayer on-line role-playing game") genre is not an option but the only way you can use this epic role-playing title. If you don't have a high-speed Internet connection and a powerful PC with plenty of room on your hard disk, don't even bother to take it off the shelf of your software store.
Other disk-based on-line games such as World of Warcraft, however, require gamers to pay a monthly subscription to join in the fun; the advantage of this title is that you don't have to take out a subscription, only purchase the DVD-ROM. But new expansion disks come out on a regular basis - this is the third in the GuildWars series - so if you're a diehard who wants to have them all, it won't come cheap.
When installing the product via the Internet, I was initially disappointed that it didn't proceed. There were no explanations in the thick, English-only booklet and accompanying material, but I thought my Norton Personal Firewall might be interfering with the download, even though I hadn't come across this problem before. It worked - and when I called Hed Artzi Multimedia's technical support man to complain, he admitted it was a shortcoming and would inform the company.
This version comes with a new 20-mission design that sends you off to encounter new friends in a make-believe medieval environment populated by monks, rangers, necromancers, warriors, paragons and dervishes; these last two are new to the series, of which this is the third game title. Paragons are leaders who bear spears and shout commands to their teammates to rouse them. Although "dervish" usually refers to a Muslim sect with ritual dances and songs, here they are more like monks wearing light armor and carrying scythes to "harvest" enemies as they attack.
One cannot play alone. Select a primary and secondary profession and a male or female character with the hair color, height, facial type and skin tone that you prefer. Produce a human creature depicted in lifelike detail who actually breathes; he or she heaves, moving the shoulders and bobbing the head, especially after vigorous activity.
The tutorial at the beginning of the game is very helpful in learning the ropes. You can create up to four heroes at a time, and each is endowed with 150 unique skills that can be combined to produce an endless number of permutations. The variety is enough to keep fans going for months. The company's streaming technology eliminates the need to download "patches" to update the game; instead each new on-line connection streams new content to your computer while you play.
All the characters function in a seamless universe - the land of Elona - where an evil ruler is attempting to call up her outcast god as the brave are asked to counter the darkness that befalls the land. You can become the owner of guild halls, create guild emblems and communicate with members of other guilds on-line - all the while trying to win control of various parts of the land.
The name of the game is combat as endless tournaments, but the weapons are medieval swords, spears and scythes and not guns, and there is no blood, thus it is quite appropriate even for 12-year-olds.
While the graphics are excellent and the views breathtaking, I find it difficult to believe that most Israelis who thrill to role-playing games will have adequate English-language capabilities to enjoy it. The text, mostly written out on the screen rather than oral, is in elaborate English (words like signet, corsairs and buccaneer), and you can't play without understanding the quests and constant instructions.