Monday, November 12, 2012

Star Wars: The Old Republic review

    I beta-tested the game before it came out but haven't been able to play the game enough to give a full-fledged review until now. I've completed the Sith Inquisitor story (Light Side), the Imperial Agent story (Light Side), and am currently doing the Sith Warrior (Light Side) version.

    Can you sense a pattern?

    I admit, the biggest thing I enjoy about Star Wars: The Old Republic is playing a Light-Side Sith. It's virtually unprecedented in the whole of Star Wars lore. Usually, if someone comes over to the Light Side they switch over to being a Jedi. You can have Dark Jedi but Light Side Sith is something new.

    Really, I enjoy playing the Light Side of the "evil" faction because it's more narratively appealing to me than simply playing the good guy. I also don't see nearly as much potential in playing a Darksider on the "good" side. I'm not alone in this but from what I can tell, most people who play the Imperial side actually enjoy being the bad guy.

    So, different strokes for different folks.

The joys of killing things with lightsabers never gets old.
    Star Wars: The Old Republic has many things going for it, not the least bit being its excellent voice-acting and story. The stories are so rich and so deep, I'm actually going to individually review all of them separately from my main blog. There's really eight different stories here, sixteen if you're interested in playing Light Side and Dark Side variations on everything. They all deserve individual consideration.

    Which is part of the problem.

    Having played Star Wars: The Old Republic for awhile, I'll say the biggest issue it has is the fact it seems to be the MMORPG for people who don't like MMORPGs. No, seriously, if you just like solo-games then this is a bit like buying Knights of the Old Republic 3-10. With slight adjustment, all of these could have been released as individual games.

    That's really not what an MMORPG is about.

I'm totally lightside. Honest.
    Seriously, even the Flashpoints kind of reduce the desire to do team exercises. You gather together in relatively small groups of people and proceed to do all of the missions. It's even possible, though unwise from what I gather, to do missions alone. There's not exactly any real incentive to gather into a massive Guild since there's no raids or large-scale team-content to speak of.

    One of the silliest World of Warcraft gatherings I ever saw was when a bunch of players gathered together forty or so pink-haired gnomes for the explicit purpose of assaulting Sylvanas' stronghold in order to give her a hug. It was a ridiculous, surreal, and absolutely awesome way to spend the day for a lot of players.

    I don't see anyone getting together to go assault the Emperor's fortress or kill Satele Shan. Indeed, the only way to battle the Emperor is to do it with the Jedi Knight as the climax of his story. This seems patently ridiculous as Luke Skywalker did the first Sith Emperor in Star Wars with Darth Vader's help. The death of the Emperor should have been a Flashpoint for both sides like with Darth Malgus or a certain character whose return is still one of the biggest spoilers of the game.

    I can understand why Bioware didn't want Tython overwhelmed with hundreds of Sith Warriors and Sith Acolytes trying to cap the leader of the Jedi but that's part of the fun. That's not even getting into what is the weakest element of the game: the Player vs. Player element. It's not bad and there's an awesome idea called Huttball but I think they could have emphasized the community element more.

    Indeed, the very nature of Bioware's companion system may work against the players forming communities. There's no need to travel around the galaxy with an intrepid band of heroes when your campaign story comes pre-equipped with an intrepid (computer-controlled) band of heroes.

     I won't bring up the piloting missions of the game, which I think could have been improved on by slightly updating TIE fighter and X-wing with better graphics before setting our heroes loose on each other. Of course, if I were the guy designing it, I would have made the option to be aliens and so many other things which would be impractical for the story-based MMO they were clearly interested in making.

The characters are, really, the heart of what makes this game awesome.
    Really, I shouldn't talk about the way I think they should have made the game but instead how it actually is. I loved Knights of the Old Republic and this is like an extraordinarily long series of games set in the style. The characters are extraordinarily well-written, the adventures are fun, and the expansion on the Star Wars universe is amazing.

    Is the MMORPG as good as a single-player console game would be? I'm not so sure about that. There's parts that seem a bit unpolished like the over-focus on tomb-raiding in the Sith Inquisitor or the fact the Sith Warrior has a questionable position at the end due to the Emperor's death. Still, that doesn't mean it's not more enjoyable than 90% of the games out there.


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