by Quinn Levandoski
reviewed on PC
BioWare are a company that has created one of my favorite game franchises in Mass Effect. It seemed fitting then, that if I was to put time into an MMO for the first proper time, I would invest it in one they had lovingly created. The key for me was, as they promised, to bring their knack for digital storytelling into the genre. They were also creating the game in the Star Wars universe, meaning that if I ended up hating the gameplay I could at least find some entertainment in enjoying familiar locales and environments. So, I bit the bullet and bought Star Wars: The Old Repbulic and I havenít regretted it for a minute.
Finding Your Feet
The first thing youíll do when you pop in the disc is create your character. Itís here that SWTOR simultaneously impresses and disappoints. The process itself is very straightforward and simple. You pick an allegiance (Republic or Empire), a gender, a class and a race. All standard gaming affair. I found picking my class to be, in a good way, a bit different than I expected. Iím horrible at making decisions, so the idea of having to choose there on the spot if I wanted my character to be a damage-soaking tank, life-giving healer, or feared damage dealer was a bit daunting. This was magnified by the fact that since I hadnít spend much time with an MMO I wasnít really sure what kinds of play styles Iíd even enjoy, much less be good at. Luckily you only part have to make this choice at the beginning. Each faction is divided into four classes. The Republic consists of smugglers, troopers, Jedi knights, and Jedi consulars; while the Empire is made of bounty hunters, Sith warriors, Sith inquisitors, and Imperial agents. Each of these have a basic role theyíre meant to fill, but each class also splits into two sub-classes once you reach level 10 in the game.
The only part of character creation that really disappointed me was the lack of species to chose from. The game does include nine (Human, cyborg, Chiss, Miraluka, Mirialan, Rattataki, Sith, Twiílek, and Zabrak), which sounds like a lot to chose from, but many of them just look like a human with different colored skin. The Star Wars universe has so many strange and interesting creatures in it that I think it would add a lot to the diversity of the population to see some of the less humanoid creatures represented. I understand wanting to keep characters roughly the same size, but why no include characters that could add a but of flair? Rodians, Nautolans, and Selkath are just a few that Iíd have loved to see make the cut.
How you build your character, in terms of professions at least, greatly impacts which direction your character goes in, giving players who may not be sure how they want to play a chance to test-drive their character for a few hours to get a feel for what theyíre like before specialising. I thought this was great. For example, my first and main character that I created is a bounty hunter. With this class, players will have to choice to either specialize as a Powertech who focuses on defensive abilities and impenetrable armor to become a tank, or a damage-dealing Mercenary with high firepower. I went in to the game expecting to specialize into a tank since I foresaw it to be the most forgiving and straightforward for newcomers, yet eventually discovered that I much more enjoyed bringing the pain. If Iíd been forced to pick before spending a decent amount of hours with my bounty hunter I would have been stuck with a character I didnít really like and would have needed to re-create a character, rendering hours upon hours of my time wasted.
An engaging and detailed world, excellent voice acting, each class has a compelling story
A few too many generic side missions, space combat is underwhelming