Impressions: Star Wars The Old Republic
Can I truly “review” a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG when my highest level character is only 18 out 50? Probably not… so I’ll just call this my “first” impressions of Star Wars: The Old Republic
I think that one of the most important parts of any game is the first 10 minutes. If you’re not having fun in that initial investment, then there is a problem, and it’s hard to get invested in the game. This is especially true in MMORPGs, where you’re kind of a weakling at level 1. There has to be an experience that works at level 1 as well as level 50, and it is not an easy thing to nail. I’ve played way more MMOs than I want to admit, and I’ve seen too many have that exact problem.
Star Wars: The Old Republic takes the starting zone, a usual bore, and instantly makes it interesting. Believe me, I’ve played through almost all of them. Each story starts with an interesting reason for you to be where you are, and to do what you’re doing. Let’s take my personal favorite example, the Republic Smuggler: You begin on Ord Mantell, in which you’ve smuggled weapons on your starship. You meet your contacts and head off to deal with some separatists that are fighting nearby and endangering your deal. When you return, one of the contacts has stolen your ship and flies it to the separatists, promising them the weapons in your smuggling compartments. This begins a trip across Ord Mantell to find out where this scumball is and to get your ship back. I won’t spoil the story, but I will say that Bioware did a great job of making you really hate the nerfherder that stole your ship.
Though that’s just one example, I have been very impressed with the introductory experience in SWTOR. While the Jedi and Sith ones are more “vanilla” (You’re at the Jedi/Sith academy to train in the ways of the force), they still manage to engage in interesting story lines. I will admit that it seems as though the developer put extra time and love into the non-force user storylines to make them compete with the fact that they are devoid of force powers. But who cares, I love shiving enemies with my Imperial Agent. The fact that I have 6 characters at level 10 or 11 (the end of the starting areas) is a testament to how much I’ve enjoyed it.
After that, you head to your respective faction’s capital planet and start the quest for your ship. Once you get that around level 15, the galaxy opens up and the game really starts to take off (insert snare here). While I haven’t spent much time in the post-level 15 part of the game, I am having a great time so far and must once again say that I was completely wrong about this game pre-launch.
While, in the end, Star Wars: The Old Republic is more of the same in terms of basic MMORPG gameplay, it manages to be a fresh and interesting look at a genre many have considered played out. Is the fact that it is Star Wars helping it along? Absolutely. However, the game manages to be an entertaining entry into a flooded genre, and I would recommended the experience I’ve had to any fan of MMORPGs.