First Impressions: Star Wars: The Old Republic
January 11, 2012 2 Comments
I’m not super into Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPG or just MMOs). There’s something about being forced to interact with internet people in order to complete objectives that never really interested me.
I had to import it because, for whatever reason, it was decided that Australia wasn’t to receive a launch at the same time as North America and Europe.
Were they worried that Mad Maxian gangs riding kangaroos would deliberately target their servers for vicious hit-and-hops?
Once I selected a server to play on (no Australian servers yet, obviously) I was presented with the choice of playing a Republic or Sith character.
Space racism abounds!
I like the idea of playing someone who’s kind of a dick but unfortunately, at the time, I had no friends playing Sith, so I hopped on the Republic side to roll with some buddies.
There were a handful of classes to choose from, covering the classic Star Wars archetypes: Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Smuggler and Trooper. I chose a smuggler because even though I had to be a good guy, I wanted to at least be a little bit of a wiener.
Next up was species selection and this was my first introduction to the space-racism that permeates the Old Republic. I was told that “Human’s are versatile and the norm against which other species are judged”. Um…ok, I guess I should be one of those?
The character creation options seemed pretty standard – if a little light – for an MMO. I figured it would only be appropriate to model my character, Brychan, after the great Aussie actor Errol Flynn.
How does it play?
Guess what, guys, SW:TOR is an MMO-ass-MMO game! There are quest givers with quest markers who usually just tell you to “got to X and kill/destroy/gather Y”.
You have a skill bar mapped to hot-keys, they have a cool down and you gain new ones as you level up.
BioWare isn’t trying to revolutionise the way you play MMOs, and that’s totally fine, I enjoy the combat and the smuggler has some cool abilities utilising cover that make him a bit more interesting in combat.
Where SW:TOR sets itself apart is with its story. Now I’m not going to speak to the quality of the story – it seems fine enough and keeps you interested in exploring more of the world – but the way they deliver that story is pretty great.
Every character in this game, even one-time quest givers, engage you in fully voice acted dialogue scenes, with that all-too-familiar BioWare dialogue wheel. It is here that the game feels the most like Knights of the Old Republic, which can only be a good thing.
The other day I finally got out of my beginners area and played a “Flashpoint” with a friend who was playing a Jedi Sentinal.
Flashpoints are “action-packed, story-driven adventures that test a group of players to their limits, putting them up against difficult foes in volatile situations.”
Essentially they’re long quests with difficult enemies and they’re a lot of fun. Each player gets to vote on what dialogue option they want with dice rolls dictating which is chosen. This can lead to some interesting conversations.
But the best part about the Flashpoint I ran was being able to just goof around with my mate and kick some dudes in the bean bag.
The biggest problem with not releasing the game in Australia is not that the game isn’t available locally; Amazon shipped the game in a matter of days so that really wasn’t a hassle.
The biggest issue is the lack of local servers forcing any Aussie players to look to North America or Europe.
I was worried this was going to result in some serious lag but I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far. I can only think of one issue during the Flashpoint where I experienced any real issues with lag and it was only for about 20 seconds so anyone with a decent internet connection should have no issue playing in Australia.
So far I’m having a tonne of fun in SWTOR. I’m only about level 13 so I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’ll explore the Sith options a bit more and really test how solo-able the game is.
It seems that BioWare has succeeded in creating an MMO that I’m genuinely interested in. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re a Star Wars fan and like talking to people on the internet, then you should definitely give it a shot.