Star Wars: The Old Republic
Genre: MMO, Action Adventure, RPG
Watch the Trailer Here
Star Wars: Time of the Old Republic has received a lot of hype for a long time. Bioware have sunk hundreds of millions into the development of their new MMO and we got a chance to take a look at the game as it will launch.
First off the upsides, TOR is a step forward for MMO's in terms of story. NPC's do talk to you, they have a range personalities even if it is limited and there is some measure of them reacting to your responses. MMO's have always suffered from the problem of a lack of purpose to what you were doing, you can go and do this quest but what effect that actually has is lacking. TOR works really hard to give quests a purpose. Even the opening custscene gives you a brief explanation of what you're doing and more imporantly why. Anything that makes a game feel more like you're playing through a story is a good thing. The characters models are still a bit wooden, you can tell from a mile off there Bioware's special brand of not quite right and the voice acting would be good in a normal game so for an MMO it's astounding.
But for all the effort that's gone into the story, in my brief playthrough the gameplay just fell apart and defaulted back to everything that was wrong with MMO's. Character creation is brief but it works. I'd have preferred for a little more customization stat-wise but there's plenty of options for race and class and there's enough options for appearance to keep people going.
It all started out well when I played as an Imperial Smuggler, the story got me involved and there was a vague reason for why I was doing what I was doing. The combat basically worked, running from point to point taking cover and blasting at seperatists to accomplish some minor mission. The interface was like most other MMO's but the cover system and the speed with which I'd get murdered if I wasn't in cover made it interesting.
Pleased that everything was working so well I swapped sides and restarted as a Sith Warrior. This was a big, big mistake. The story gave me no reason to be there beyond some prophecy or something that I'm sure would be explained if I'd toughed it out. But then the opening missions got to me. I was ok with descending into the tomb to rescue the War Blade of some former master. Starting out I was armed with something that looked like a stick with flourescent light tubes glued to it and was eager to get what I'd thought would be some version of a light-saber, even if it was a crappy one since I was just starting out. I ventured down into the tomb and recovered the war-blade, to find out it was just a slightly different shaped stick guarded by ancient robots. And then I remembered there was a second part to my rescuing a stick, to kill the giant bugs in the tomb. The game sets up that there's some grand prophecy of your galactic importance. You're a Sith Warrior damnit, the spiritual ancestor to Darth Vader but here you are, in a cave, working on pest-control. To top it all off the close combat isn't a patch on the ranged. With blasters I can take cover, find the best shooting position and take out the target. In melee all I could really do is wade in and play happy-slaps with the enemy until someone died.
So in my very limited play through would I recommend this game? Yes but with reservations. Melee combat is a chore, and backtracking through an area to find the 3 guys you killed not 10 minutes ago to on their fight and looking none the worse for wear is still a really annoyance but the efforts on the story front and the quality of the ranged combat make up for it and more.
Reviewed by: Tony O'Hare
Story by | 12:00 | Friday 23rd December 2011 | Games
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