Star Wars: The Old Republic — GameFront Impressions (Part 2)
The holiday season no doubt has you wondering whether or not to pick up the latest Star Wars MMORPG. To help you with that decision, we’ve publishing a three-part Impressions series that offers the opinions of a few GameFront writers on Star Wars: The Old Republic.
The article that follows continues to explore the early-to-mid-level experience of TOR. Each writer will present his take on four topics: Environments, Space Combat, Crafting, and Progression. Keep reading to find out what we thought!
Ben Richardson — Bounty Hunter Mercenary
Ever since the first shot of the first movie, way back in ‘77, Star Wars has impressed fans with sheer scale. The squat, imposing palaces my Level 1 Bounty Hunter encountered on Hutta don’t exactly match the majesty of that never-ending Star Destroyer chasing down Leia’s Corellian Corvette, but they certainly signal BioWare’s intention to keep the large-scale tradition alive.
Hutta’s disgusting swamps are not the most inviting introduction to an MMO, but they definitely establish a sense of place. After hours slogging through fetid mud, boarding a shuttle and heading off to the Imperial Fleet felt like the relief it was clearly meant to be. I’m not sure why being aboard an Imperial vessel feels so much like being trapped in the world’s most evil shopping mall — call it a casualty of MMO city design.
The game really hits its stride on Dromund Kaas, the Empire’s oppressive, rainy capital. The intermittent rainfall and lush vegetation looks great. As we’ve already seen in Mass Effect, BioWare designs a great-looking futuristic city.
Nothing I had seen so far could rival the size of the Dark Temple, which seemed intended to accommodate some larger-than-human alien species. Though the architecture itself is impressive, the huge columns made the NPC’s standing next to them look tiny and silly. The giant staircases also devolved into blurry, heavily aliased disasters when seen from a distance.
These are minor, complaints, however. Overall, the game’s environments look great, despite not investing heavily in the kind of tech that would challenge lower-end PC’s.
C.J. Miozzi — Sith Marauder
While Ben may have been less than enthused about the Bounty Hunter starting world, the Sith home world of Korriban sets a high bar for players who create a Sith Warrior or Sith Inquisitor. Towering rock formations and crumbling ruins give this planet an epic feel, and as you explore the tombs of the first Dark Lords, the world’s rich history is palpable.
Every world I’ve visited has its nuances: the familiar deserts of Tatooine, lush and gloomy Dromund Kaas, battle-ravaged Balmorra, and metropolitan Nar Shadaa. While the worlds are diverse in flavor, not all of them are memorable — Dromund Kaas and Balmorra are already becoming faded memories in my mind. Contrast these comparatively vanilla planets with the uber-industrialized Hutt-world of Nar Shadaa, cluttered with skyscrapers and neon lights reminiscent of Blade Runner — a world that couldn’t simply have been transplanted from a fantasy MMO and dotted with sci-fi architecture.
In my experience, the most disappointing aspect of TOR’s environments must be the starship view of the planets. When you travel from world to world, a short cut scene shows your ship flying toward your destination planet, which is rendered in disproportionately low resolution relative to the rest of TOR’s visuals.