Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) is out and my MMO addiction is back with a vengeance. I kicked the Word of Warcraft habit just before WOTLK and swore I would never return to MMO gaming. But how could I resist a new Star Wars MMO set in the most interesting era of the Star Wars universe? I have always enjoyed Bioware games—the story is always intense with obscured agendas, vast conspiracies that you have to pick apart piece by piece, accompanied by difficult decisions that will test your moral convictions and blur the line between right and wrong—or in this case, light-side vs. dark-side.
Up until this point, the bar for story elements in an MMO has been set very low, but Bioware has redefined the industry in this respect. 8 unique and intense story-lines provide each player with every reason to try each class and experience every aspect of this vast universe, making SWOTR 8 games for the price of one. This reason alone is enough to make SWTOR a must play for anyone with a passion for the Star Wars universe. Although this game is still using Direct X 9, the environments are all crafted in breathtaking, ornate detail avoiding much of the usual repeating textures found in last generation’s MMOs. It is clear that attention to detail was no small part of the designers’ jobs.
PVP in SWTOR is on the right track as I really enjoy the new style battlegrounds. Huttball, in particular, is a very creative game to play and can be quite challenging when you go against other premade groups. The goal of Huttball is to grab a ball that spawns in the middle of a maze of dangerous traps and pass the ball back and forth to different teammates while making your way to the goal line. If an MMO ever had a chance of becoming an esport, then I think SWTOR’s Huttball would have to be it.
As immersive as this game is, it wasn’t a total win for a few key reasons. My main gripe is that they really didn’t do anything innovative with the game play mechanics. Take away the story and brilliant voice acting and you’re left with World of Warcraft. I know it is a tried and true system for MMOs, but it is clunky and I just expect more from Bioware. SWTOR does not even currently offer a macro system or UI mods.
SWTOR’s crafting system is another fail, in my opinion. It is an interesting twist that you can assign companion characters to do the work for you, but at the end of the day it is another WOW mechanic clone. You combine a series of materials to craft the item you want, but there are no variation or quality differences from item to item. Star Wars Galaxies’ crafting system was much more interesting in that it was an engaging experience looking for the best quality components to construct your items.
SWTOR Space Missions
SWTOR’s space combat is much more of a mini game than valuable content. It has the fast paced look of a Star Wars Movie, but the game play mechanics of a Star Fox 64. You can move up and down a little and left and right to an extent, but you’re stuck on an invisible track controlling little more than when to shoot your blasters and when to launch a missile. I was so disappointed by the first space mission and have yet to try a second.
Just Buy it
All of the cons aside, SWTOR is a great game. I will at the very least play through all of the storylines before my enthusiasm dies. Even then, I will probably stick around for the occasional Huttball match for years to come.