First Impressions! Star Wars: The Old Republic
November 29, 2011 2 Comments
Like loads of people, I was invited to the SWTOR beta test this past weekend. I figured I’d probably never buy it so I might as well check it out while I can play for free. Despite the hype, I wasn’t overly excited. In fact, I wasn’t even excited once I’d logged into the game. I wasn’t even excited after the first hour and a half of said game. To me, Star Wars: The Old Republic felt like Star Wars flavored Mass Effect in an online setting. That wasn’t a terrible concept in and of itself, but the mechanics and dialogue felt like more of the same. It seemed cheap.
…but then Sunday rolled around and I gave it a second chance. I’m not sure if it was the combat or the smuggler class storyline, but I played for a good four and a half hours straight, ’til my butt was numb in my chair and my leg muscles were clearly beginning to atrophy. It’s got the addiction factor going for it. To that effect, it’s succeeded as a certifiable money printer.
As often as I felt the writers were laying on the snark and deceit a little too thick, I couldn’t help but become really engrossed in my protagonist’s storyline. I’d met my smuggler just before she lost her ship and the hunt for the jerk who stole it became something that I, as a real breathing human being person, wanted to see through to the end… in large part because I just want to fly a ship. In single-player RPGs this would seem a prerequisite of good games writing, but it’s not something I’ve encountered very often in massively multiplayer games. It’s sad that an MMO having a good story-driven plot is somewhat of an anomaly, but them’s the facts. Or opinions. Y’know.
People who play MMOs have certain expectations. A typical quest asks you to kill so-and-so amount of enemies that are causing trouble outside of town. You’ll find some more of the same here, but that trope is somewhat averted by the fact that killing a certain amount of enemies is usually an optional bonus. That’s not to say the quests don’t get repetitive– I’ve found that most of the tasks handed to my smuggler have involved finding objects on a map and right-clicking to interact with them. Pretty much everyone in the Republic seems to think I’m awesome at hacking into the mainframe. Apparently, I am. Go figure.
Having started in Ord Mantell, I’ve only visited one other planet so far– Coruscant. Knowing that, I can’t really comment on how accurately planets are portrayed or how they compare in scale (and couldn’t anyway because I’m not nearly as big a Star Wars nerd as I’d like to be), but I can say that Coruscant felt overwhelmingly huge in a cool way and I’ve only explored a small portion of it.
As for glitches and general gameplay problems, mine were minimal. There was a bugged mesh spazzing out at the corner of my screen for a good portion of time, but it wasn’t particularly distracting and didn’t prevent me from playing. I did have a problem with the default graphics settings as I’m running on a budget laptop and bloom lighting just isn’t a thing that should ever be enabled. It made the game really aggravating to play, with textures taking ages to load or loading mid-conversation. Once I turned off bloom, though, the game ran very smoothly.
In short, Star Wars: The Old Republic is an MMO. It’s not industry-changing or groundbreaking, but it’s fun and it’s better than lots of other MMOs I’ve played in the past. I went in thinking I wouldn’t like it and that I wouldn’t be in any way tempted to pay a monthly fee, but I was wrong and got fairly sucked into it. If not for the fact that I’ll soon own Skyrim and probably maybe Dark Souls and definitely won’t need to be anymore of a recluse, I might even buy it at launch.
So there’s that. Thanks for reading! I’ll have some more food+games posts up soon, as well as some just-games or just-food posts. Sorry for the change of pace as I sort of work out my format. Combining two very different subjects into the same blog is a weird idea and I’m still working out the most reader-friendly way to go about it.