Star Wars - The Old Republic: Review
by Matthew F. Hibben
Developer/Publisher: Bioware/Electronic Arts
Release Date: 12/20/11
Back in June of this year Technomicon gave readers a first glance of Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) based on developer concepts from their site. Launch date for SWTOR is fast approaching and many players including myself have been able to start the live experience early through early DLC purchase. This week's Game Tech article gives players the much anticipated first look at live gameplay for SWTOR.
This was the first time I went with digital copy and download. I was apprehensive about not having a physical copy of the game, and also worried about problems downloading files this large (over 25 GB). The game downloaded without problems, albeit a lengthy process taking the better part of a day. So once the download was complete and the authentication process was finalized I was pleasantly surprised to jump right into gameplay without any problems.
Character creation includes choosing your alignment as well. Players first must choose between The Galactic Republic or The Sith Empire. After your faction is decided the player can then pick the type of class they wish to play as well as cosmetic things such as race, sex, and physical appearance. My character selection included siding with The Sith Empire and choosing the class Sith Inquisitor. There are plenty of tool tips available to players during character creation that explain each choice well, including race backgrounds and character class descriptions.
Quests in SWTOR really fall into two distinct categories, the storyline and the side mission. Let me start out by stating that so far the storyline quests are very well done, with character lore and development flowing in a timeline very smoothly. Characters the player meets and tasks performed are all very well fleshed out, and feel meaningful. Side missions are all the traditional task based missions players will partake of as they complete their main storyline quests. In addition to these types of quests there are also others, like dungeon related missions called Flash Points and ones dealing with Space (Ship to Ship) combat.
During quests players will need to interact with the various NPC's involved in the quest. These interactions are governed by a chat wheel style UI. The chat UI isn't just for show, though, as various chat selections will lead to fairly different outcomes both in terms of the quests as well as your standing with the Force. Players while completing various quests will need to make hard decisions, kill or save, enslave or free, these choices will affect more than just what is taking place in the now. Quest decisions will affect both your standing with the force, as well as your standing with your companions.
Each player gets a ship once progressing through the storyline to a certain point. The ship has many features for the player to explore. The ship offers players an interactive star map, storage vault, living quarters, various interface terminals for quest purposes, and companion living quarters. The ship itself is upgradeable for space combat much the same way a player is upgradeable via changing gear, and a ship's component parts can be improved and swapped out for better performing firepower, shielding, and so on.
Companions and Crew Skills
As players progress through the story they will gain companions and crew members. These companions can take an active part in the player's progress via combat, or simply stay back at the ship and perform what are called Crew Skills. In SWTOR crafting falls under what are called Crew Skills. Crew Skills are a broad range of actions that allow the player to gather materials, create items, and partake in missions through the use of their companions. Through the Crew Skills UI the player can assign certain companions to certain jobs, and after a set amount of time has elapsed, the companion returns with the task completed or failed (the failed mission or task still usually rewards skill points associated to the task).
To conclude I strongly urge anyone that has been looking for a new MMO to tackle to check out SWTOR. The game is out of the box, very polished, packed full of content, and a blast. With the lore of the Star Wars franchise to pick from, I see no end to the amount of rich content in store.
Star Wars: The Old Republic Video Review