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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic - Beta Review

How stoked was I that i got into the Star Wars: The Old Republic beta last weekend?  Super, is my answer.  I have been waiting to play this game for 8 months, and I finally got to see what the fuss was all about.  Which, by the way, was totally worth it.

My MMO past is varied, mostly dominated by World of Warcraft for the past 4 years, when I killed my account to save the money to play this game.  No, I don't consider SWTOR a "WoW-Killer", but it comes real close. 

The artwork is pretty good - buildings and vehicles all look well thought out - but it lacks the polish that WoW has.  The colors are muted, and characters look a bit blocky.  I will mark this up to it being a beta test and hope the dial the colors up to 11 for release.  The HUD is interesting, the mini-map being the oddest.  It takes some time to get weened off of WoW's great navigation and trained in the ways of SW, but once you do, things are pretty straightforward.  

Game play was what I was really interested in, and SW held up to my expectations.  The quest system is probably the thing I was most impressed about, though I will say the cut-scenes got a bit old.  When you accept or turn a quest in you get a short cut-scene that gives you background on your mission, your race, or other things.  What I really dig is what happens next - you get to choose a response from one of three choices.  Some give you Light Side points (lame), and some give you Dark Side ones (fuck yeah), and the choices are usually pretty good.  Seems like SWTOR wants to do you a favor by not making you scroll through text of your quests, and opted to actually give you footage of it.  Good choice. 

One thing the dev's got right is story line and its impact on questing.  I rolled 6 'toons, and not once did I feel like I was grinding out quests, which from a WoW background is something to be happy about.  I enjoyed doing some quests twice, and the environment is so new yet almost familiar.  The story is good for each character line and I really got immersed in what was going on.  It's interesting when you are actually rooting for your character as you would if you were watching a movie.  Or maybe I'm easily entertained.

What will be hard to deal with is the chat.  I'm not sure why MMO's get the most bitchy people playing, but there is always someone crying about this or that, and usually two people teasing that person.  And you have to read it because any in-game text appears in the chat window.  So you don't want to miss anything.  Sigh ... whatever.  Deal with it, I suppose. 

Any complaints I have about the game I can chalk up to the beta and my shitty 4-year-old laptop - at times the graphics needed a few seconds to render, which was interesting watching these characters in the cut-scenes have layers added to them while they are talking.  Some quests were buggy, and sometimes characters didn't perform as expected (my Sith had issues with a very specific set of stairs ...). I'm still waiting for this thing - pre-order all set, $15 a month ready and willing (sort of).   

Overall, this game will fucking rule your life.  Play it.

This post written under the influence of Pavement - Cream of Gold


  1. Nice write up.

    first of all, kudos for the pavement song.

    I did not get into the beta and I'm just wondering how this is going to pan out at max level. I've read the leveling experience is great, being a bioware game and all, voice acting and all that shit. Also I hear about it feeling more like an online co-op game than an mmo.

    I'm definately gonna check it out though, I signed up for your guild!

    <Jim Ginn your WoW and sometimes RDR buddy

  2. I agree wholeheartedly on the storyline experience, it was very well done. I can easily see myself trying out all the classes just to see the stories.

    With regards to your graphics issues I suspect it's more about your laptop. I have my graphics running maxed out and the environments and textures were great. With that said I'm running a brand new machine with piles of ram, a sandybridge processor and a huge video card so performance wasn't a problem. It's all about finding a happy balance and I think Bioware did a good job with offering some choices in the graphics options to find that balance.

    Looking forward to the wholesale domination of the galaxy by Dark Meet!

  3. I could be wrong but I think there is a way to leave the general chat channel thus freeing you from the endless barrage of annoyances.

  4. You can absolutely leave the general chat channel. I did so as soon as I got sick of the WoW talk (i.e. 2 minutes in). But you can also set up new tabs in chat with filters to only show the information you want.

  5. Here's another fun fact... As of this week retail preorders for SWTOR (not counting digital download) sits at 900,000 sold.