Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Well that was fun (Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG Review)

So this weekend finishes up the second stress beta test weekend event that I've participated. And unlike last time, I'm not under an NDA this time around. So I figured I'd capture my thoughts.

Short version: Will I buy it? Maybe. My core problem with MMORPGs still stands.


So I played a Jedi Knight (through 9); a Bounty Hunter (5); a Sith Inquisitor (4); and a Smuggler (16) in that order. As a whole the story lines were good; the Jedi Knight was average in that it had good choices that caused me to flick between the the options trying to decide what I would actually do. The Bounty Hunter's story arc was the worst of the bunch, dark side does not mean petty betrayal - it is just not taking the peaceful restorative route.

The Sith Inquisitor story line was awesome enough that I stopped playing because if I do end up playing the game I'll be definitely playing through the arc. The choices there were possibly not as conflicted as when I was playing the Jedi Knight, but were meaningful and carried connotations that I enjoyed playing. I had a lot of destructive id engaging fun with the arc.

And finally the Smuggler - I got off the homeworld with this character and made it till I got to the ship, and tried out the PVP options. The story lines were above average, and the choices meaningful and I did enjoy my option to, and fully engaged in the "flirt" option with ever NPC that I was allowed to flirt with.

If you are a lover of stories, then I think I can recommend the game for you.

Game Play/Combat

Gameplay was fairly "standard" in my, not so experienced, opinion. One thing I noticed right away is I seemed to get a lot of abilities right away - a lot faster than I was used to in my brief flirtation of BSG MMO; City of Heroes (Free version); or World of Warcraft. The classes definitely felt entirely different in how they played out, with different enemies presenting different problems for each of them.

Something that I particularly liked was that it was rarely pulling a single non-hostile creature from a group and killing them. The quests were generally of the "Go do this" with optional side quests of "Kill X of Y" which, I think, is perfect for this game. None of the quests were particularly difficult, though that may be my overly cautious play style.

Ship combat, in the one mission I played in, was .... not thrilling. It felt very much like a mid-90s flight combat game - I  had a flashback to getting in one of those big arcade games and popping in my 50 cents and flying a fighter jet through waves of enemies. Possibly there was more complexity in non-introductory quests, but I'm not really seeing it in the intro quest.

Having the NPC companion really helped a lot with the ease and fun of the game, plus they all brough different abilities to the table.

PVP play, at least through the warzones, was interesting. I got to play two of the three variations of competitions (a football/rugby look alike with blasters, and a control point variation); and it was chaotic and noisy and I felt like after a little bit I knew what I was doing and could help. And I ended up in the same middle of the pack that I do on an FPS, so I guess I was doing something right, or at least average for me. The games were fun, fairly rewarding for the time I put in them.

If you are looking for innovative and nifty game play, I'm not sure I can recommend this game to you. I'd argue that it is neutral at worst though; it doesn't really add to the game; but it definitely doesn't detract, especially in comparison to other games on the market.


Sorry Mr. Burger, this game is not going to win the reward for awesome crafting system. In fact, this is a crafting system for people who have never been a huge fan of crafting. You get the choice of three skills, of which only one of them can be an actual creation skill (i.e., make guns/armor/lightsabers/etc.), which the others are standard get loot, while others are more mission related - send a companion away for 1-6 minutes (at least at the low levels) to go get stuff while you are out doing stuff.

I LOVE the crafting system because generally I hate doing crafting. But now instead of "me" doing the crafting, I send my minion to go do some crafting. Or missioning. And even when I had only the one companion what I could do was get to town, and send him off to go do some crafting while I cleaned out my inventory, leveled up, what have you. And eventually he'd return.

The system isn't particularly intricate or detailed. But it did keep me in equipment from time to time. For once I'd be tempted to NOT make a character who simply gathers and sells to other characters.

Final Thoughts

I liked what I saw. The game was fun, the story lines were (mostly) entertaining, and I could see playing through them to see different aspects and quests. The question is whether though it'll be worth the initial purchase + monthly fee. And that's the question, for me, that I'm debating - that if I play this game it'll be a mostly single player game as my friends will probably be on different servers, playing at different times; and I'm not dependable to get into an active guild. My brief flirtation of the free-to-play BSG taught me that.

Do you like Star Wars? Do you enjoy engaging story lines? Then get it. If you are looking for something that's going to be brutal and the combat is going to be the thing to do? I have no clue whether it'll work for you. That's not my gaming fix - I don't have that need to fill.

The game is definitely not "hard" - though I didn't get a chance to do any of the instances ... errr flashpoints.