Thursday, April 5, 2012

Star Wars: The Old Republic Review

After hours and hours clocked into playing Star Wars: The Old Republic I feel like it is time to finally give a review of this much anticipated MMO.  From the second you start making your character to ending your own personal saga, BioWare does a fantastic job immersing you into the Star Wars universe during the Old Republic time period.  The question is, can  BioWare successfully make the transition into the MMO market? the answer is yes, with a but.  While BioWare did a great job giving players a recognizable MMO platform to play with, there are some issues when it comes to end game content.

If there is one thing that BioWare knows, it's creating an epic story line.  From the opening cut scene to your last character quest, The Old Republic gets you sucked into a rich story and has you feel like your making a difference in the galaxy.  The Old Republic is set thousands of years before the movies but not too long after the events of the Knights of the Old Republic games.  Tensions are high between the Republic and Empire (when are they not?), and the Treaty of Coruscant has been broken, so now its up to you to find order and gain political power for your faction.

Much of the story progression is based off of your characters decisions.  Like other BioWare games, you are given options via dialogue interactions that will effect the way your story turns out.  The game distinguishes these choices by either going dark side or light side.  Adding these choices makes every characters experience unique.

The Old Republic doesn't do much to innovate gameplay beyond what traditional MMO's such as Everquest and World of Warcraft offer.  You still have your standard class roll (Damage, Healer or Tank) and you still have your UI bar with all your abilities and a skill tree custom tailored to your specialization.  This will be easy for new players and players familiar with other MMOs to pick up.

One thing that fans of KOTOR will enjoy are the companions each player gets throughout their story progression.  Companions play a big role in your gameplay and even in your storyline.  Each class gets 5 companions, each with their own set of skills.  What I really liked was how you can customize their armor as well, and give them different combat roles.  I was a bounty hunter tank so I used Mako as my healer.  Each companion also has their own personality and will respond differently to choices you make in the game.

Flashpoints and Operations play a big part in the leveling and end game content.  Each flashpoint is done in a group of 4 players and requires different roles from each player (tank, healer, damage) in order to successfully complete them.  Much like World of Warcraft, hard mode Flashpoints and Operations play a big part in your end game experience.  Getting groups together and cooridnating through Operations is the main way you progress through end game content and collect gear.

Player vs Player is another big part of the game.  Though there is quite a bit of content, SWTOR struggles with their PvP.  The game offers both open world PvP and Warzone games where players are put on separate teams and compete in various match types.  Where the game struggles is getting enough people on each faction to play all of the match types.  Most of the time you will find yourself qued up for Huttball, a capture the flag like game that supports same faction competing against each other rather than faction vs faction.  Server population and faction balancing effect the match making for PvP. Another big problem with PvP is a result of the open world PvP. It has had many problems since the launch, some serious ones that absolutely crippled the Republic players for a couple days, but in the end it isn't well balanced or all the engaging. Other games certainly have better PvP and SWTOR has quite a bit to try, but it fails to enthrall or keep it's audience wanting more.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Warzone

I think BioWare did a fantastic job with the story, character development and adding in all the essential elements a thriving MMO needs, environment, community and attachment to your characters.  This is probably the first MMO where I felt an attachment to my character, and I actually cared about the actions I took against my enemies and with my companions.  The game has hours of replay value with trying different classes and I think that is its strong suit.  Where the game lacks is in the end game content.  It was a blast playing this game all the way till the level cap.  Beyond that, all I had to do was run Flashpoints every day until I was fully geared.  However, BioWare has been very vocal about releasing new end game content for players and how important it is to them.  Despite the shortcomings of the end game content, I would stil recommend any fan of mmorpgs, BioWare games and especially Star Wars to pick this game up.

Violent Score:  8.5 (out of 10)

Written by: Adam Borchert


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