Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic Beta Review

Hey folks,

It's only a few weeks away from the arrival of Star Wars: The Old Republic and I thought I'd give you all a nice rundown on my thoughts from playing it. Sadly, I didn't get to play it nearly as long as I wanted to because no sooner had I downloaded it that my computer caught a virus and I had to reformat it. This, of course, meant I had to re-download the 20 gigabyte file from scratch. Given it was a weekend beta, this severely cut into my play time.

I chose to play a Sith Inquisitor and was struck by the options being somewhat limited. I was able to make roughly the sort of character I wanted, more or less a Sith version of Dante from Devil May Cry, but the options seemed quite stark. You basically were restricted to three body types; thin stick-boy, superheroic male, and a guy the size of a Sumo Wrestler. The options for race weren't problematic because I suspected that they'd be limited - here you get to choose from Zabrak (Darth Maul), Twilek (like the dancer in Jabba's palace), and Rattaki (more or less vampire-looking people).

The graphics in the game are great but if you turn them all the way down, they become so incredibly hideous as to make the game unplayable. Just a warning there, this isn't one of those games where the bare minimum still leaves you with a pleasant game to watch. Really, the game is exceptionally well-designed and I loved the look of Korriban once I got to see it.

The voice acting is top-notch and immediately we got an intriguing storyline for my character. My character was a slave who has been discovered to be force sensitive. Now, he has been sent to be educated in the ways of the Sith. An atypical rags to riches story to be sure. I think some people may object to the fact that their background is being manipulated this way but it's the conceit of the game. I understand that the other classes all have their own unique stories.

The first mission was sort of a drag as my play was riddled with bugs, mostly involving the inability to attack and use my powers. When I stopped and returned after re-installing, all of these issues disappeared and my characters minor abilities with force-lightning were able to make me tear through the local animals like a lightsaber through butter. So, I have no real objections to the action portion of the game either.

Later gameplay introduced me into my earliest antagonists, Overseer Harkin and his pet pupil who acted a bit like a vicious version of Professor Snape and Malfoy. You'd think the Sith wouldn't want to be killing off their students left and right but Harkin seems to take a perverse pleasure in doing exactly that. The rivalry between you and the "Super-Student" takes up much of the early draft of the story and left me feeling amused but sort of 'eh.' After all, I was a Sith-lord in training, did I really have time for the shenanigans of Slytherin House? I imagine many others will take a GREAT pleasure in humbling these two, however.

I didn't get to experiment much with the other classes, sadly, though they all looked intriguing to me. I'm especially interested in the Female Trooper since, being voiced by Jennifer Hale, that means it's possible to play Commander Shepard in Star Wars. Being a bounty hunter also has its allure due to the fact that, as a heavily-armed Muggle, you should have no end of opportunities to prove yourself superior to the force-wielding wizards around you. Oddly, I'm not too keen on playing a Jedi this time around since I was not a big fan of the Prequel Jedi.

So far, SW:TOR plays very much like an online version of Knights of the Old Republic. That's about the highest praise I can give it.

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