Well, it seems the have called of the NDA and the lawyers for LucasArts and BioWare have been caged back up. This means I can tell my SW:TOR story.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is the second attempt to cash in on the STAR WARS IP in MMO form. It has been in development for about 5 years. The angle this one has is that it is set 5000 years before the current movies. This is a double edged sword, as the developers are not shackled by current cannon, or feel the need to place characters like Luke Skywalker or Han Solo in needlessly. It allows them to create a new Star Wars storyline by maintaining the legacy of what makes the Star Wars Universe great. However the downside is that they are not using familiar characters and locations, and this may turn more than a few people off.
First off, let me put this out there: from what I have played ,I LOVE IT. At it’s simplest, it is the child of World of Warcraft and Mass Effect ( which itself was the spiritual successor to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic). If you are shaking your head asking why is it not more like KOTOR, it TOTALLY IS. It is set in that Universe, sure, most the gameplay more closely resembles Mass Effect.
The way you interact in the game is all WoW. The movement, the combat. The zones. However, it is the story and how they make you PLAY the game that is all Mass Effect. Whereas in previous MMOs, your character exists and takes a part in a larger story, in SWTOR, the story is all about you. Your first 10 levels is all about YOU. Sure, there are plenty of side quests, but during your first few hours in the game you are creating your role in the bigger story to come. So much so that the opening crawl is tailored to fit your character. There are instances in the game that exists ONLY for you and they only server to move your plot line along. Other classes/players can’t even go in. This makes you feel like you REALLY own your character. The quests are standard MMO fodder. Take item X to person X. Meet person X at location X. Kill X number of beasties or bad guys. But, as opposed to simply leveling your character, you are advancing your own story. And did I mention the dialog? EVERYBODY talks! No chat balloons. They talk. And just like Mass Effect, your responses dictate how they respond and how your character develops. Want to be a dick? BE ONE and eventually join the dark side. Be the hero, and join the light side. You can even play it in the middle.
That being said, I think a lot of modern MMO players will find this boring. This is not a kill’em and loot ’em game. The fast pace of WoW is definitely missing and I found that to be a relief. This game was made for ROLE PLAYING. Not PVP rewards, not PHAT LOOTZ. I have noticed a lot of the criticism of the game stems from this. Some players are already at level 50. The highest level currently achievable. They are complaining of the lack of end game content. To me I feel like they missed the point. If you go into the game with the mentality of getting to the highest level as fast as possible, I feel like you are short changing yourself. This MMO centers on story and is meant to be enjoyed as such.
So far, I really like the game. A lot.