Preview: Star Wars: The Old Republic

| November 29, 2011 | Reply

When I initially signed up to beta test this game in Oct of 2008, I was hoping for some magically revitalization of Star Wars Galaxies.  At that point in my gaming life I had not played Dragon Age, Mass Effect or Knight of the Old Republic (KOTOR) and honestly wasn’t very familiar with BioWare at all.  Luckily for me, I did eventually play these games before being asked to participate in the closed beta for The Old Republic (TOR) in November of 2010.

Why is that bit of background information important?  Simply put, even after playing their flagship titles I was not convinced I would enjoy paying a subscription for a single player game.  That was my assumption about TOR which I was very vocal in sharing with my gaming friends and the extended community.  I was so jaded by the idea of TOR that when I was accepted into the closed beta, I almost just deleted the email ignoring my opportunity.  In retrospect, I am very happy I did no such thing.

For this review, we need to set a few grounds rules to avoid the usual comments that arise anytime a new MMORPG comes out.  Yes, there are elements similar to WoW found in TOR.  The quest log, queuing for battlegrounds and map interface, though all not exclusive to WoW first, were popularized by a game that has definitely broken the barrier between MMORPGs and the general public.  The main difference between this being a “WoW Clone” and a new game is in the nuances that make you feel a little more connected to your character.

The voice acted quest interactions are excellent.  Under the assumption that you’ve played a BioWare title before, you have experienced that moment where you save the game before making a big decision.  This way if you don’t like how it played out you can just load up and choose the other path.  Well, you can’t do that in TOR.  Your decisions are your decisions to live with.  This allows you to sculpt your characters personality as you want.  Do you want them to be a heartless trooper who is only doing what the military demands?  No problem, but if I wanted to play the same class with a heart of gold or even one that is completely neutral and disconnected to the ongoing war, I can.

However, I may have gotten ahead of myself.  I need to back up a bit to the first and probably most important choice to your experience in TOR.  Who are you fighting for?  Please, do not confuse the political and cultural choice of what side you are on, with your force alignment.  Both sides offer light and dark side options which can be choosen by your character.  This choice is your basic motivation for clashing with the other side and will give you an idea on the types of quests you will be going on.

The Republic:

Typically thought of as the “good guys” of the galaxy, this is only a skin deep assumption.  The Republic is fighting to stop their adversary the Sith Empire from conquering their territory and finishing off the Jedi Order.  Regardless of what class you pick, you will be clashing against the Sith Empire in many of your quests, but not always as the stalwart defenders of peace.

A brief look at the history of the wars fought against the Sith (http://www.swtor.com) will show you how the current Republic attempted genocide to eliminate the Sith threat.  Currently there are ongoing battles that feel that is still the answer versus a more conservative ”defense is the best offense” strategy normally used in previous battles.

The Sith Empire:

They are perceived as the “bad guys” in TOR.  This is probably a closer generalization than the “good guys” of the republic.  The deeper you get into the Sith story lines (as well as looking at the history on SWTOR’s page) you find there is a huge divide between the men and women of their military and the force using Sith Lords.  The military tend to be a little more strategic and level headed than their Sith Lord leaders.  This leads to some conflict between the two from time to time.

The best way to describe the Sith Lords is that they are chaotic evil.  A brief look at the history and the questing find they are a self destructive society which often causes their own defeat.  This usually para mounts in the assassination of a leading Sith Lord by his apprentice.

The Sith are fighting to secure what planets used to be theirs as well as continue to secure their home world so that excavation of historic treasures can continue.

The Classes:

Each side is made up of 4 classes with two advanced classes each.  For every class, there is a mirrored version of it on the other side.  Listed below are the classes listed Republic/Sith:

Jedi Knight/Sith Warrior

Jedi Consular/Sith Inquisitor

Trooper/Bounty Hunter

Smuggler/Imperial Agent

Each has a unique story line, however their mechanics are fundamentally the same as their mirror.  For a little more information on the roles and advanced classes, go to http://www.swtor.com.

Races:

Honestly, I don’t feel the races really warrant mentioning in detail.  Basically your choice is what color or accessory wearing human would you like?  Green?  Red?  White?  With a blindfold on?  There aren’t racial bonuses, just social abilities to add a little flavor, but that is honestly all a different race does as well.  Sometimes you will relate with an alien creature because you aren’t typically human, but in a universe with such a large diversity of races, it’s a little disappointing not to be able to play an off beat one.

Overall:

This game is more than a single player game.  The conversations you can include your group on, make for a very fun competition of rolling for who gets to respond, as well as feel I refer to as “the e-clubhouse effect”.  Where even though you aren’t actually hanging out having a beer with a buddy, you still get that feeling since they are talking to you in Ventrillo and helping accomplish a shared goal.

If you are looking for an MMO with a little more story, instead of just the pick up a bunch of quests you don’t read and run to objectives, I would recommend Star Wars: The Old Republic.  The one draw back I can see for normal MMO players is the pacing on the game.  Due to the story you will find yourself not leveling as fast as you typically do.  It took me a bit to get used to this, but when I did I found I was enjoying the trip to level cap instead of racing my way there ignoring my character’s development.  I typically tell my friends that want to level grind that they can go for it, but the first 10 people to level cap aren’t awarded an extra level.

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Category: Tech News

About the Author ()

Merc has been an avid gamer for many years.  Starting with Wolfenstein 3D, Xwing vs Tie Fighter and even some classic MUDs like Terris, he has continued his life long hobby by playing a large variety of game types.

He has had a wide range of experience in the gaming community; having hosted and competed in prequalifiers for the World Cyber Games and the CPL/CAL tournaments.

Merc now writes reviews for currently out video games as well as commentary on the community as a whole.