A long, long time ago, a company named Bioware started making the Knights of the Old Republic
series, games based on the Star Wars universe. The games were a commercial success and so it came as
no surprise when Bioware announced they would be bringing Star Wars to the online community and as
a result, Star Wars: The Old Republic was born.
Since it is a Bioware production, then it is easy to understand that SWTOR’s biggest selling point
is the story. No matter what class you choose, they each have their own, unique story that catches
your interest from the beginning and keeps your attention throughout the experience. For example, the
Bounty Hunter is participating in the Great Hunt in order to gain fame, the Trooper is tracking down his
old comrades that went rogue, and the Sith Inquisitor is looking for artifacts to unlock a great power.
Though the descriptions of the storylines may seem basic, each story includes so many twists and turns
and the use of cutscenes and light/dark choices,that it is easy to forget that this is a MMO. The same
can be said about the neutral quests available to all classes, like the bonus series on each of the planets
as well as some of the longer quest chains. However,the most rewarding experiences are the flashpoints
that allow your party to make decisions throughout the mission.
The Black Talon , the first flashpoint that imperials have the choice of running, had an option to kill the
current captain for disobeying orders. If the group agreed to it, then his second in command would take
over and a few minutes later an attack would come. The republic vessel that we were chasing sent boarding pods and
thenew captain told us that they were just a distraction, but it turns out they were filled with droids and
we had to battle them. However, if we chose to keep the original captain alive, he would tell the ship to
evade the pods and we had to defeat forces that came from a boarding party. These options add some
replayability to missions that have been completed before as well as chances to gain different titles (like
the Stalwart for sparing the captain and the Merciless for killing him).
If you have played the Knights of the Old Republic series, then the combat is not all that new.
While the combat is much more fluid and action packed than its KOTOR equivalent and has the added
benefit of being able to interact with objects, usually some barrel of explosive material that helps even
the odds when there are multiple enemies, it still retains the feeling of playing KOTOR. Also, each of
the classes have their own unique style of play,so combat mechanics, such as the cover system
for smuggler/imperial agent, require that you become much more invested in the combat. Getting
used to how your class works is a key factor in both PvE and PvP servers, especially in
warzones, which are objective based.
Another unique feature of SWTOR is the companion system. You meet your companions
by progressing through your class storyline, and besides from being another source of damage, you
can send them on missions that increase your crafting skills. Much like the KOTOR, you also build a
relationship with them, which can be used to form an intimate relationship as well as unlock special
quests that can only be done when they trust you. The companions themselves are diverse and there
has not been a character that I have found to be a flat or dull.
While SWTOR has many strong points, there are a few concerns about the game as well. Most
notably is the amount of glitches that are still prevalent in the game. While most are not game breaking,
it is extremely annoying having to reload the interface because combat stats are not properly updating
or because the map itself does not update. Also, sometimes the gathering nodes do not disappear when
someone uses them, so it is possible to find a node that is unusable. There is the added consequence
of companion characters. Because you can get companions that can fill a variety of roles it appears that
most people prefer to solo for the majority of time, and only come together for heroics and flashpoints,
so there may be some difficulty in finding people to quest with at times. These are all problems that can
be fixed, and hopefully it happens soon. However, as it stands now, SWTOR is a welcome addition to the
online community and I look forward to seeing what else Bioware brings to the table.