Star Wars has suffered a long, unfortunate, and chequered past involving a plethora of titles across a wide range of systems and platforms. While almost all of them have been relatively mediocre, a few, notably the ones developed for the PC and N64 such as Jedi Knight, Tie Fighter and Rogue Squadron have been the only ones to gain a reasonable reception. http://laguerradelasgalaxias-starwars.blogspot.com/
"what is immediately obvious is the sheer amount of polish and detail that has been provided to the story and quest elements"In 2000, LucasArts and SOE announced an ambitious project to finally create the game that every fan had begged for. Star Wars: Galaxies promised players a truly authentic sandbox in which they could live out their Star Wars fantasies. What eventually released was a messy, fragmented and directionless title that while amassed somewhat of cult following due to its intense difficulty and complexity, was largely considered a failure in its final form.
It was then left to Bioware to carry the torch, and instead of allowing the players to tell the story, decided to create one of their own. An enormous one that would span the multiple-level hierarchy of a standard MMO levelling career, complete with encyclopaedias of voice-acted dialogue, alongside the standard questing, crafting and combat that MMO players flock in droves to sink their precious entertainment hours into.
So it was with bated breath that I recently had the chance to spend a couple of days inside Bioware’s Republic, to find out whether the game truly did live up to the hype. I was not disappointed. Even within the first 8-10 hours of play, what is immediately obvious is the sheer amount of polish and detail that has been provided to the story and quest elements, transforming what is generally considered a throwaway element and bringing it front and centre.
That element, my friends, is the enormous branching storylines for the game, split into two main arcs: the storyline that affects your side (Republic or Sith), and the one that involves your classes’ part in it (Jedi/Smuggler/Soldier/etc). Players of Mass Effect or Dragon Age will feel right at home immediately, since every single quest features professional voice acting, regardless of how menial the task. This added weight to narrative brings an enormous sense of connection to what’s actually happening in the world, bringing your role and actions into focus.
Once you hit level 10, advanced classes become available, opening up the more traditional “talent trees” and other familiar aspects. But Bioware haven’t made it a secret that The Old Republic is simply an evolution than a revolution in terms of how you control your skills, it’s how the game actually plays that matters. The story-driven play is ridiculously addictive, and will force you (at least for the first play through) to listen to every single bit of dialogue, since it’s all unique and even some of the filler quests will present some interesting bits of information.
What I’ve seen in beta reminds me of what we saw in the beta stages of vanilla WoW. What has been refined are the elements that make questing stale, and while other MMOs have tried to remedy this with advanced PVP or Live PVE, both have failed since many players aren’t interested in being forced to play with others. The Old Republic’s gentle “social” (their words!) nudging mixed with their clever knack at creating compelling plot lines could be the solution to that problem.
It’s only been a few days of testing and we’re still about 3 weeks away from the US release but, sadly, Australians have been shafted with an awkward “we’re aware of you but we don’t care” stance in relation to a release date. This is a shame, since The Old Republic presents such a tight, professional package that threatens to make us fall in love with MMO’s again. Here’s hoping that a release date is announced soon.