Sunday Game Review: Star Wars - The Old Republic

Sunday, April 29, 2012
Pictured: Better than WOW
I'll start off with the basics: The Old Republic is the still relatively new Star Wars based Massively Multiplayer Role-Playing game from developer BioWare. It lets you make a character and explore the Star Wars universe, set 1,000 years before Episode I (hence Old Republic). In the story of the game, the galaxy is at war. On one side is the Jedi-backed Republic, on the other side is the Sith Empire, which is set on conquering the galaxy. You choose between these sides and spend most of your time trying to crush the other side. As a Massively Multiplayer game, you play with thousands of other players at the same time, half of them you can help and the other half you're trying to destroy. 

Now that that is out of the way, I can explain my own dilemma in creating this review. When I first set out to write this, I found it difficult to review this game. It's hard to write a review of an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online game), it's almost like trying to review a Facebook game in a way. At the core of each and every MMO, it's a game about endlessly grinding to make the best character around (again, not unlike Zynga based games and their ilk, but requiring at least some skill in most cases). Sure, you do so largely by cooperating with other people playing their characters, but you CAN play most MMOs antisocially. The point is, by reviewing the nooks and crannies of the gameplay and structure of Old Republic, I'd end up with a review that will mean nothing to non-gamers because they don't care enough to the why of the game and nothing to gamers because ultimately the message they walk away with will be "So it's like World of Warcraft?". Well, yes. Yes it is like World of Warcraft.So instead of a review, I'm going to argue to those kind of people (and people with a morbid curiosity in MMO gaming) five good reasons why The Old Republic (TOR) is different from (and better than) World of Warcraft (WOW).

My list of reasons are after the jump:

It's Character Driven:

BioWare, the makers of TOR, have always been known for making story and character driven games. Often, the characters in their games are what makes the game so endearing (you for relationships with your crew in Mass Effect, for example). BioWare has translated this to work in an MMO, and it makes a big difference. Your character feels important, not like in WOW where you feel like another schmuck out to kill a billion random animals. Yes, you're still killing a billion random animals, but it's like you're doing it for a good reason, not just because someone wanted you to. Quest-givers will send you in-game mail telling you how you've impacted their lives, important characters will call you on the holo-terminal and either congratulate or scold you for your actions. Because of this you feel like your character is a part of the story, not just around while a story happens to be taking place.

You Have a Team (i.e. You Don't NEED Freinds):

This is an interesting turn for a Multiplayer game: since this is Star Wars, you get a ship and have a small crew of friends. These companions follow you into combat and such, meaning you always have at least one friend helping you at all times. The game even keeps these personal companions at an equal power level to you, meaning if you come across a difficult part of the game you don't necessarily need to find a real life person to help, you can just get the right companion to help you. So if you're a loner, you can still play TOR.


Fact: Every Smuggler needs a Wookie companion.
It's Fully Voice-Acted:

I personally think this is a HUGE game changer from WOW. You talk to your companions, your character has a voice and a variety of responses (which are always light-side thing to say, neutral thing to say, and dark-side thing to say, because, you know, it's Star Wars). This is the other thing that helps with my first point: Your character literally has a voice in things that happen in the game. You're not a voiceless bystander in the story, which is cool. I think this one little point, giving your character and all the non-player characters voices, is going to be one of those things WOW will HAVE to do with their next expansion to keep up.

There Is a LOT of Content:

There are two sides, Republic and Sith, and each side has four classes to choose from. Remember how I said this was story and character driven? Well, all 8 of these classes has their own personal storyline. My experience as a Republic Trooper is pretty different, story-wise, from a Jedi Knight. This, again, helps with the whole making you feel important thing. Your character has a personal story, and a personal goal that takes them all over the galaxy. That's what's most impressive: that BioWare did this in 8 different ways, writing 8 different story-lines.

It's STAR WARS, man!

Come on, Star Wars is just SO much cooler than WarCraft as a property! Zipping around the galaxy in your spaceship shooting down Imperial fighters and visiting all these different planets is just better than WOW. It just is. Because Star Wars is cool. If you can look me in the eye and tell me you would rather be a generic plate-mail wearing warrior than a friggin' Jedi Knight, then I will let you off the hook. And think you're incredibly lame.
You know you love it.

3 comments :

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Excellent review! If I had a computer that could run it (I'm not going to bog down my Macbook with Boot Camp and Windows 7 anytime soon...) I'd be on board fully, as summer's coming around soon...

    Meh, I've still got Skyrim. And Mass Effect 3 (Paragon AND Renegade) And SSX. And Telltale's Back to the Future. And a replay of the first few AC games before AC3 drops this October. Okay, so maybe my schedule's full up. :P

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  3. a smugglermaybe but not a Jedi: they have love to many douche bags

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