Star Wars: The Old Republic Review
Surrender your life to the Force.
Combat in SWTOR is fairly straightforward, though the auto-attack found in other MMOs isn’t found here, so you’ll constantly be clicking and tapping your keyboard to keep up your attacks. Your basic attack is improved upon thanks to your class’ skill tree, and as a Jedi Knight I was given a healthy array of Force abilities at my disposal – everything from pushing enemies away to ripping debris out of the ground to hurl forward. The various combat animations are smooth as you duel with lightsabres, though some ability animations play a little longer than I would have liked. You can also use Stim Packs which improve certain stats for an hour, akin to spell buffs found in WoW. You also soon realize the importance of having Companions in the game, even if it’s just a droid following you around. While SWTOR comes into its own at a later stage when you team up with other players, the road to level 10 can be a lonesome and difficult one, so Companions are one of the surefire ways for you to handle tougher enemies and stay alive. But should you fall in battle, you can conveniently be revived on the spot by a medic droid or be teleported to a nearby safe point.
As your progress through your character’s main story arc, you’ll notice that the game gradually leaves you to explore missions and worlds on your own, be this on foot or through one of the handy taxi points scattered around the planets. This actually works quite well, as it not only leaves you to develop the storyline on your own, it also frees you up to complete the plethora of side quests available to you. At no point was I forced to explore a particular map or go seek out a particular NPC – it was just a refreshing experience. Guilds of course make an appearance here, as do Flashpoints, which are Bioware’s version of traditional dungeon quests. Even these group quests don’t feel stretched – group conversations and a storyline based on your own actions help to keep the action fresh and non-linear.
If you aren’t too fond of questing or think you’re too good for the AI, then you can unleash your wrath on the various Player versus Player Warzones in the game. At the moment there are three PvP maps available, the strangest of them being Huttball, which is a hilarious but brutal take on football. The game also has short space sequences which you can play through, but you won’t have control of the actual ship which is a bit of a disappointment. The PvP action is fast and competitive, so seasoned players will enjoy battling it out against each other in a manner fitting of the Star Wars universe.
In addition to doing a stellar job with the voice acting, Bioware has also excelled in the game’s soundtrack. A complete orchestral score follows you wherever you go, and heightens whenever you’re in battle. It’s remarkable how much of a difference this makes when playing the game – just trying playing it with the music muted and you instantly notice that you’re not as attached to the game. While the graphics are not spectacular by today’s PC standards, the levels and characters are all detailed enough to bring the Star Wars universe to life. The only gripe I have about the graphics is the user interface – for the life of me I find it quite difficult to read most of the glowing text. Maybe it’s just my crappy eyesight, but I wish I could adjust the text so that it appeared clearer. It’s also worth noting that you won’t be able to make any kind of UI tweaks, unlike World of Warcraft which offers thousands of user mods and tweaks.
At the end of the day, is Star Wars: The Old Republic really worth all the hype? Is it truly something that’s worth getting into? The short answer is yes. While Bioware might be called out for playing it a bit safe and sticking to an already familiar MMO formula, the game still has plenty to keep both Star Wars and MMO fans engaged. If you’re looking for a fleshed-out MMO that isn’t as overcrowded as WoW, then this is the game for you.