Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR) Review – Star Wars The Old Republic is the newest MMORPG we have at the moment in the market. Designed and developed by Bioware, a popular company known for their RPG games like the Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic series, this game definitely shows promises. Combined with LucasArts’ Star Wars lore and universe, SWTOR is a game that should satisfy most Star Wars fans at the same time.
SWTOR is no World of Warcraft, however, and we shouldn’t compare it to WoW (though I’m sure it’s hard not to, for hardcore WoW players). In the end however, WoW or not WoW, SWTOR is still an enjoyable MMORPG as it focuses a lot on story telling. If you love every Bioware RPG games as I do, you’ll love SWTOR definitely.
After writing my SWTOR impressions based on the beta, it’s probably a good idea now to write a more thorough one based on the full game.
Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR) Review – Graphics & Design
Graphically, SWTOR looks amazing even when it’s being developed for a few years. It definitely can’t be compared with the upcoming Mass Effect 3’s graphics in March 2012, but I’m amazed with the astonishing details and environment. SWTOR simply looks gorgeous, even though low quality textures can be seen every now and then on certain objects. The team actually uses a mix of low and high textures, depending on the scenes. During conversation dialogues, higher textures are used and during the gameplay, lower ones kick in (for smoother experience as the game has to render many things at once, including other online players on your screen).
Just like any other Bioware RPG games, you first have to create your character by choosing your faction (The Republic or Empire), Races, and Classes. There are no Jawas or Kashyyks unfortunately (or yet?) but more races might be added in the future. You can also customize your character’s looks and all that using an easy-to-use interface with sliders. A fat Jedi or a skinny anorexia Tank? Your pick.
Each different class has its own main storyline though the sub-quests of a Faction are pretty much the same. Note that SWTOR features voiced-over conversation dialogues and they are really good – as expected of Bioware’s. During the dialogues, you have to select an answer from the 3 proposed ones. This way, you can build your character the way you want it to be – though most of the options don’t change the outcome much (except for some). At times, your answer can also have a “Light” or “Dark” side consequence, increasing your Light/Dark side level. This affects the items you can use later on in the game (apart from the face “cosmetics” that can be turned off thankfully when you go Dark).
These voiced over dialogues make questing enjoyable. I’m not really a fan of MMORPG even though I’ve played Dark Age of Camelot, World of Warcraft, and Warhammer Online in the past for a few months. Those quests and grinding chores bored me. Though SWTOR is not much different (kill X number of Y, etc), the voiced over dialogues and strong character development make it more satisfying to finish these quests.
Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR) Review – Game Features
Apart from the story based quests, there are other main features in SWTOR such as:
You gain companions along the way which have their own personalities, skills, and dialogues. The dialogues during quests can be different too sometimes, depending on which companion you bring with you at that moment. The companion also helps you to tank, heal, or kill the NPCs for you in combat. Gain enough affections, and you can be a somewhat lover though no nudity and sex scenes are involved in SWTOR (unlike the other Bioware games).
Like every other MMORPG, crafting is a “must have” feature. In SWTOR, you send your companion to craft instead of getting your own hands dirty. There are many crafting professions in SWTOR but unfortunately, once you reach level 50, these crafting equipment don’t really matter much as you can actually get better gears from the vendors. This is one of the most disappointing features, though expect changes in the future.
Flashpoints and Operations
Also known as “Raids” in most MMORPG, SWTOR’s Flashpoints (4 people max) and Operations (>4 people) are more fun to play because of the dialogues and the story elements thrown into them. They can take an hour and even up to 3 hours. A 4-man group of 1 tank, 1 healer, and 2 damage dealers (DPS) is always preferred, though unfortunately tanks and especially healers are quite rare.
You will be given a ship as you progress through the main storyline. Apart from being able to travel anywhere with your ship, there are extra “bonus” space missions to do as well. Though they have no impact to your game’s progressions, they give XP points and serve as a good break from the traditional MMORPG chores. It reminds me of LucasArts’ 90’s games like the Tie Fighter and “X-Wing vs Tie Fighter” too.
PvP (Player vs Player)
PvP (Player versus Player) is also the main core of SWTOR. At the moment, you can participate in a Warzone which throws you into a faction vs faction scenario. At the moment, there are only 3 Warzones (which gets you bored pretty quickly) but expect more to be added.
I unfortunately haven’t reached level 50 yet (which is the maximum level in SWTOR at the moment) so I haven’t done the Open PVP just yet. There is a Level 40 Open PvP area but when I went there, the place was quiet and there was nothing there. Disappointing.
Overall, all these different things give you tons of things to do so you can get a break of doing the boring grinding and have some fun on different areas of the game.
Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR) Review – Overall Experience
I have 3 characters at the moment: a Level 41 Sniper (DPS), a Level 35 Jedi Guardian (Tank), and a Level 26 Sith Inquisitor (Healer). I have to admit that I really love the main quests as Bioware has put a lot of effort in making the main quests fun and interesting. Each class focuses on different things (for example my Sniper, which is an Imperial Agent, focuses on sabotaging, infiltration, and working behind the enemy lines). Whatever class you choose, you’ll certainly have fun of its own, assuming you don’t skip the dialogues and try to enjoy the game as it is meant to be played. If you like Han Solo in the Star Wars movies, then you should pick the Smuggler as the dialogues clearly reflect him (I had a play of the Smuggler during the Beta).
The music is really great and on some places like the Balmorra, the music shines. According to the video I watched about the Music of the Old Republic, there are over 5 1/2 hours of live music and most of them were new and fully orchestrated. The music also changes whenever you are going into battle or triggering a certain event.
Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR) Review – Conclusion
Unfortunately, despite of all these goodness, swtor seems unfinished. Many features such as the legacy system and guilds have nothing yet, not even some basic core features. The upcoming patch 1.2 is coming to address this, but it won’t even cover all the features they wanted to release just yet. Lengthy and costly development had surely pressured this game to go out to the market early, however, the game is still enjoyable as it is now.
Along with time, star wars the old republic (swtor) can be one of the greatest mmorpgs of all time (as world of warcraft took so many years to nourish and mature) as bioware keeps on fixing bugs, tweaking, and adding more features into the game.
Playing swtor is like playing a traditional bioware rpg, with a twist of coop and mmorpg elements to it. Even if you are not a fan of mmorpg games, you might love swtor because of its great storytelling and rich universe.