Will there ever be an MMORPG good and perhaps more importantly, popular enough to rank up to the titan that is Blizzardâ€™s World of Warcraft? Yes would be the answer if you are anyone from LucasArts, Bioware or EA. But is the big new MMO release: Star Wars: The Old Republic worthy of being called as good as or better than WoW?
It certainly seems to me that LucasArts have certainly well-equipped themselves to take on the juggernaut, with one of the biggest game companies distributing a game developed by arguably the greatest RPG makers ever. However there is more to an MMO than simply â€œBeating WoWâ€ although there will always be comparison and as such, I must make comparisons in this review.
Before I even start playing the first game I have my first niggle, the installation time is deceptively long! Not to mention a patch which takes bloody forever to download, but all is forgiven upon seeing the frankly amazingÂ opening video, by the end of which I was pining for another Star Wars film. Then come two very hard decisions, on which server do I play and WTF do I name my character. Seriously, I tend to have the same name for most things (Madpeza) but this was a very hard decision as I wasnâ€™t sure it was â€œsithyâ€ enough. Nonetheless after much deliberation I had settled on a name and my TOR adventure began. (Thatâ€™s The Old Republic, not the web browser)
What this game does offer is â€“somewhat bizarre- naming suggestions for those with little to no patience/imagination. More importantly, it also offers a lot of customization.Â Starting with your race and class, and even going on to which style of tattoos your character should have. This, I feel, is better than World of Warcraft, because although I donâ€™t want to be the â€œGoodâ€ side, I donâ€™t want to be butt-ugly. It also gives the character a more personal feel, which is always handy in an RPG. Another thing that is also very cool is the advanced training which means you can customize your fighting style even further upon reaching level 10. Most of theseÂ classesÂ are based on characters in the film, for example if you choose to be a more force based Jedi/Sith character (Jedi Consular/ Sith Inquisitor) you can become a Darth Maul style character: Fast, stealthy and double-bladed lightsaber wielding, or a Yoda/Palpatine style character: very advanced force powers with a single bladed lightsaber.
As far as Iâ€™ve played the story is very good, and although I have only really experienced 1/8 of gameplay as there are 8 starting classes, I donâ€™t feel as if Iâ€™m missing something. I donâ€™t have too many quarrels with the main story line, only really that the side quests are very silly, (please walk 100 metres to see if this guy is a traitor even though Iâ€™m lvl 30 and youâ€™re lvl 7) although side quests are mostly very fun and lead onto something I love about this and all Bioware games â€“ moral decisions. As this is an RPG you shouldnâ€™t be restricted to being good or evil by the Emblem you clicked when creating your character, and you arenâ€™t, fun times. I wonâ€™t go deeply into the morality system as it is very similar to Mass Effectâ€™s Paragon/Renegade system and if you arenâ€™t familiar with that then PLAY MASS EFFECT.
The gameplay itself is, admittedly, a carbon copy of World of Warcraft, WASD to move, click to interact with the numbers acting as macros for specific attacksâ€¦ Well, if it ainâ€™t broke, donâ€™t fix it. The PvP system is also very similar to World of Warcraft as in there are battlegrounds and arenas. One thing about the game play which isnâ€™t like WoW is the receiving of quests. In Warcraft a piece of paper is displayed on your screen highlighting the requirements and rewards of the quest. Every quest giver tells you the quest, with each quest giver being voice acted. Now, this may not seem that much of a big deal, but I am level 16 out of a (currently) possible 50, and have probably received over 30 quests. This means that so far 30 actors have been paid to tell me my quest to make the experience more authentic, it certainly beats a piece of paper being displayed on the screen. There is however, one very annoying thing about the game play which is the fact that your companion insists upon following my every move, refusing to stand less than 2 metres away, thus making me unable to interact with many objects and characters without moving the camera angle. I want to talk to the quest giver, not my little helper.
All in all I would say although this game is very young in terms of MMO age, the young apprentice will soon take over the master MMORPG, in true Star Wars form. I currently feel that this is a brilliant game due to its superb story, unlike WoW where I feel as though the questline is only a means by which I can achieve max level. This game has been carefully constructed, and no, itâ€™s not perfect, at times it feels like the other online players are just there in my RPG rather than an MMO. However, Iâ€™m fairly sure that 7 years and several expansion packs down the line, Star Wars: The Old Republic will be reigning with more might than the Sith Empire itself, until then; may the force be with youâ€¦