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I still remember the day a while back that my friend showed me images of Star Wars: The Old Republic in its youth. It was just concept art, really and I said to him “Man, I hope they don’t screw this up!” For a while I was very skeptical of this title. I just knew something would go wrong with it. More information kept coming out. I knew if I gave SWTOR my heart, it would inevitably become broken. Often times we hype ourselves up so much only to be disappointed. I tried so hard not to get wrapped up in it but on that fateful day in 2008 it happened. This of course was due in part to the fact that I decided to sign up for the SWTOR beta, but against my better judgement, I began to get excited. Each month passed and I gradually became more and more excited and curious about this new MMO. Bioware generally makes decent to excellent games right? They did KOTOR which was fantastic, right? How could they possibly ruin SWTOR? I was drinking the Kool-aid, and man did I drink a lot of it. I soon became almost cultist-like with the amount of pro-SWTOR propaganda that would come spilling out of my mouth. My expectations were so high. Too high one might say. Many of my friends tried to pull me back to earth, tried so hard to make sure I wouldn’t be hurt. I commend them for trying, but it didn’t work. I was higher than a donkey in space (What the hell does that even mean?!) There has been a lot of hype for SWTOR from a lot of different sources too, so it’d be easy for someone to be pulled in like I was. The big question is, did SWTOR meet my expectations?
I must first point out that with any MMORPG, it is difficult to truly give it a definite score for the game’s entirety. MMORPG’s are never actually complete because in the weeks, months, and years after launch these games evolve so much. I would like the reader to understand that this review is based on everything I have experienced. Now that we have that cleared up, let us begin shall we?
Let’s start at the beginning, character creation. Your first task is to choose your allegiance and class. The Republic has access to the Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Smuggler, and the Trooper. The Sith Empire has access to the Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor, the Imperial Agent, and the Bounty Hunter. Each class branches off into two advanced classes you can choose from. From there you get skill trees that further specialize your character’s play style. Then you get to pick your race from various famous Star Wars races. At that point it is time to decide how you will look. This is probably one of the weakest parts of the game. The customization options are good enough to get a decent result and are more detailed than some games, but ultimately it feels a little lacking. I personally would have liked to see more playable race combinations.
Once you have a carefully and well thought out name selected, like “Darthfacemelter,” you can hit the play button.Your story begins! WHOA WHOA WHOA HOLD THE PHONE?! Did you just say story?! Why in the world would an MMORPG have a story?! Aren’t MMOs just a big race to the end so we can all get our E-peens huge by raiding 9 days a week?! Well sir, I am glad you asked. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, each class has a detailed story filled with all sorts of great moments. SWTOR is different from many other MMOs, especially in this way. The game is very story driven. This is accomplished beautifully with tons and tons and tons of cut scenes filled with voice acting. They aren’t just cut scenes though, because you are given choices for how your character can respond. These responses ultimately affect your character physically.
I will attempt to explain how the Player Versus Environment content works in a simplified manner. You approach an NPC that is offering up a quest. You are then given a cut scene where the NPC gives you details of what is going on. You then react accordingly. Let’s pretend this is a mission to go to a droid factory and destroy the power generators. Obviously you want to get some experience points and some loot. Upon accepting the quest you are then to head on your way. Along the way, you will run into enemies. Upon killing one, you will notice next to your quest tracker that a bonus quest has appeared. It seems you now must kill 15 more of these things. Well, you are going that way anyway, and these things WILL attack you, so hey awesome! Free bonus EXP right? While in the droid factory you may find some other quests, but for this example you don’t. Once you get to the power generators you click on the flashy thing like you’d expect. Then another cut scene begins. A frightened man runs up and explains if you destroy the generators it will release toxins into the river that will kill the fish which is a local village’s food source. You are then given a choice: Either destroy the generators and poison a people’s food source and receive dark side points, or find some alternative way to deal with the situation so that you do not harm these people and receive light side points. The choice is YOURS! These points aren’t just there on your stat sheet either. The more you get, the higher rank in that side you get. For example, my Bounty Hunter is considered Rank II Dark Side. In fact a neat feature is that the dark side has actually corrupted him to where his skin has gone pale, dark circles under his eyes, and he has scorch marks around the corner of his lips. I assume something else happens for light side, but it’s probably silly. There is an option to turn these effects off, but why would you do that? The questing doesn’t feel like typical questing where you click the person, a box of text pops up, look at the rewards, and then just hit accept. No, it actually wraps you into the world of the game and you feel involved. There are some that complain that you can’t skip the cut scenes and just power through, but maybe just maybe this isn’t the game for you. Some of these quests are more difficult and require a group. These are called heroic quests, and can be quite fun. This also shows off how Bioware encourages grouping. In a group during these cut scenes, everyone gets to pick something to say. Once all the choices are picked a die is rolled and the highest actually gets to speak. During these grouped cut scenes you earn social points which you can redeem for all sorts of great items later. Also, don’t freak out because some goody two shoes decides to save the day and be all light side. Even though his roll won, you will still get dark side points if you chose a dark side choice. The other form of grouping are Flashpoints, which are pretty much dungeons. Many of them are filled with story rich cut scenes, while several others just turn you loose to get to working together.
To view this review in it's entirety, please visit RoboAwesome.com