Thoughts on Star Wars: The Old Republic

I’ve been a big fan of Star Wars since the original movie came out back when I was young. If I recall correctly my first Star Wars video game was even the Empire Strikes Back game for the Atari 2600. A few years back I bought a video game called Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. I had a blast playing it. So much so that I hunted down a copy of its predecessor, Knights of the Old Republic and played through that. Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed it. When word came out that there was going to be a new Star Wars MMO however, I was… unsure. Then it came out that Bioware, the company responsible for the original KOTOR game was going to be making it. Then came word that it was going to be “set” slightly after the KOTOR games, effectively making it an online, multiplayer KOTOR 3 of sorts. I began to develop some interest. I signed up for the beta. I got into some of the testing weekends. I bought Star Wars: The Old Republic.

So why all this babbling? Well, I figured I’d try my hand at a very non-traditional review and post some observations now that I’m far enough in to have unlocked a good chunk of the game. So, here we go.

First thought? Let’s get the 800 pound gorilla out of the room…This game is NOT World of Warcraft. I don’t mean that as either an inherently good or bad statement. I like World of Warcraft. Star Wars: The Old Republic is its own game. Each game has its good and not so good points. There are similarities, sure but the games definitely “feel” different to me.

Much like the earlier Knights of the Old Republic games, the progressions in SWTOR isn’t completely linear. By that, I mean there are huge story choices, which can impact how certain other characters in the game interact with you. So you could basically play the same class twice, make different choices, and get two somewhat different stories. (Not completely different mind you, you do still stick to the same basic script).

In the spirit of “buddy” movies throughout the ages, you’ll spend most of the game traveling with a companion. And for the record, the Smuggler class flies a freighter and has a Wookie available as a companion, so I think Han Solo would approve. I also really like that as get more companions, you can send the ones that aren’t with you off to gather materials or make things for you. They aren’t just back at the ship playing cards or hanging out at the local cantina.

Playing the game, I’m finding it very immersive. The story writing is very enjoyable, if maybe a tad predictable. But hey, it’s a game based on a movie world. Good guys have to fight bad guys, or it would make for a very boring game. It is STAR WARS, Not STAR PEACE after all. And speaking of the stars, I’m a big fan of the space battles. It’s not that they’re horribly difficult once you get the hang of the controls and the objective of the different battles. It’s the little things. The sounds, straight out of the movies. The visuals, the scale it imparts. And the little comments from your crew members that make it so entertaining. During one space battle one of my companions suggested we’d be better off if I let the droid fly the ship. Ouch.

But that’s the fun of it though. The voice acting is very well done. There are cutscenes galore that really help it feel like you’re playing though a movie. The comments from and occasional conversations with your companions really sell the story.

Yes, there are some of the traditional MMO drawbacks in the game, but such is life. There are just certain things you have to have, no matter what the game is.

Overall, I like it. And in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about? Isn’t that why even as we “grow up”, we still play video games? Because we like it? That’s enough for me. I’ll probably post more about it when I think of stuff, but there you go. A Beerbarrel review of Star Wars: The Old Republic. I guess, to borrow from Siskel and Ebert, I’d give it two beers up.

Have fun out there folks!
-Beer

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