The announcement of a Star Wars
themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG
) sent nerd chills down the spines of many around the world, but could BioWare
do justice to both sides of a demanding coin? It is a title that is likely to attract newcomers to MMORPGs or the world of Star Wars, but it caters for these players along with more seasoned veterans.
The initial phase of Star Wars: The Old Republic
is simple: choose your side, class and customise your character. Then the world is unveiled in cinematic and explosive fashion. Lightsabers crackle and fizz, characters leap or are force-propelled through the air, and old foes come face to face with one another yet again. If this was a film, the opening would be worth the price of admission alone. In fact, the opening cinematic does the Star Wars universe more justice than some of the film prequels. The action is intense and the voice acting is simply superb.
However, you are but a promising student who must learn and showcase their skills to earn the right to excel on the frontline. Thankfully, even the opening world is interesting and diverse. The story and missions are paced well with a touch of the expected grinding to level further. However, the most impressive feature is that all interactions and main dialogues are voiced excellently. The dialogue and conversations have a sense of depth and option to them with responses in store for each choice. This creates a sense of wanting to know what will happen and an interest in the conversation rather than simply hitting any available choice to bypass this interaction.
BioWare promised that Star Wars: The Old Republic
would focus on the storyline and this is evident throughout. From the carefully crafted conversations to the missions that are tailored for each class to the overarching storyline, it is clear that BioWare had a goal in mind. There is depth to this title with eight different, unique and substantial stories. Rather than simply lumping all players into the same mission path after the initial tutorial, players are able to experience their own adventure based on some of the choices that they have made.
The only disappointment with the conversation tree is that light and dark choices are clearly marked. There is no point in appreciating the grey of human nature in The Old Republic
; you will not be rewarded for it. Even after choosing to side with the Jedi or the Sith, you will be presented with good and evil choices. Some actions in missions or training will also reward the player with points in this regard, but the overall effect is less clear initially, though if you choose to play a black-as-the-night character, you are better off killing everything in sight. For certain actions you are awarded light or dark side points. Acquire enough of these and you rank up in a way, allowing access to certain traits and abilities that were previously locked.
Online games can live or die through community action or inaction. The servers are populated and new ones are springing up all the time to cope with the demand. If none of your friends are interested in The Old Republic
, well firstly they should be ashamed of themselves, but secondly it is very easy to find and join a group. The global chat will often be sprinkled with people looking for extra members for a group. Of course, group play isn’t necessary but you may want to add a few levels to the recommended mission difficulty. The Old Republic
also features a companion system; a NPC who will assist you, take care of some of the mundane tasks and who crafts for you. They can be sent to sell junk items and stand beside you in battle. At times, this is very convenient as they soak up attacks and deal damage, while you impersonate brave Sir Robin and run away.
The gameplay is similar to what you would find in many other MMORPGs. There are a couple of tweaks here and there, and of course it has a unique setting, but the main draw of The Old Republic
is the presence of a storyline; something that many MMORPGs choose to ignore. Of course, until the late to end-game, everything within The Old Republic is simply an impression. However, it features an impressive, immersive world and storyline and mixes familiar MMO dynamics with a handful of new features. Star Wars: The Old Republic
certainly does seem to do justice to the franchise and can easily be recommended for fans of deep storylines, the Star Wars universe or MMOs in general.