Star Wars: The Old Republic “Final” Review – Part (3/3)
Played a Sith Warrior (Marauder) to Level 33
Played a Bounty Hunter (Powertech) to level 21
Previous MMO experience: WoW, RIFT, LotRO, DDO, Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, and more.
The first Flashpoint available to Empire players is the Black Talon, in which an Imperial Captain refuses to carry out orders to intercept a Republic transport, and players must seize control of his ship to complete the mission. The enemies are varied, the plot has twists, there’s an escalating sense of tension and danger as you fight “bosses” of increasing difficulty, and there’s plenty of opportunities to earn Dark Side or Light Side points through numerous conversations.
I loved the Black Talon — and as a result, I thought I loved Flashpoints.
Unfortunately, it seems the amount of love that went into developing this first Flashpoint was not carried over into the next few Flashpoints I tried. Plot was nearly nonexistent. Conversations became rare. All that remained was battle after exhausting battle, until finally reaching a boss that your group may or may not be able to kill, depending on their character level, experience with the game, and party composition.
Unless you’re over-leveled or an exceptionally competent player, Flashpoints can run an hour in length and include several failed attempts at killing the final boss. If you’re eventually forced to give up, then you receive no rewards — and if you succeed, the rewards make you question whether the endeavor was worth the time expenditure.
Simply finding a Flashpoint group is a trying experience that can take a half hour; I eventually stopped bothering with them unless I was running with our GameFront guild. There’s tremendous potential in the concept of Flashpoints, but presently, they don’t seem to be working as intended unless you’re with a party of people you know.
I’m normally not much of an MMO PvP player. While off questing, I don’t want to be killed by some higher-level jerk who gets his jollies by ruining other people’s good time. I understand there’s a segment of the player base that enjoys living under the constant threat of random jerk attacks, and that’s what PvP servers are for.
Warzones present an opportunity for players to partake in team-based, objective-oriented PvP combat, in a separate environment from their questing. In order to lessen the advantage that higher-level players have over those of lower-levels, all players have their stats bolstered to that of a level 50 character. For the most part, this system works — the advantage higher-level players maintain is greater flexibility through a wider variety of powers and talents.
The system breaks at level 50, with characters that have access to the best gear, powers, and talents clearly dominating in Warzones, making matches boil down to which team has more level 50 characters in its roster. Fortunately, BioWare has been quick to respond to this, and by next week, level 50s will be segregated to their own Warzone brackets.
Warzones aren’t perfect — they have their share of bugs, PvP class balance seems to require a bit more refining, queues can have you waiting for several minutes before playing, and only three maps are available for play — but ultimately, they are fun for both the casual and hardcore crowd, and offer significant rewards whether your team wins or loses.
The Old Republic follows the tried and true MMO recipe that veterans of the genre will find familiar — and perhaps stale — with a peppering of innovation in the form of a unique crafting system, companion characters, space rail-shooter combat, and a story-driven experience. Rather than cater uniquely to an MMO crowd, the game reaches out to a broader audience of RPG, Star Wars, and BioWare fans.
If you’re an MMO player looking for a game that breaks the mold, TOR isn’t for you. But if you’re a gamer who is simply looking for a quality product, I recommend giving TOR a try, even if it’s only to experience the story.
For those concerned about paying a $15 a month for a singleplayer RPG experience, bear in mind that TOR is essentially eight RPGs in one — one storyline per class. Assuming you complete one storyline every other month, you’re essentially paying $60 for one game, then $30 for seven full-length expansion packs. In other words, even with its monthly subscription fee, TOR delivers more hours of original content per dollar than most AAA titles.
- Consistently great writing and compelling story.
- Combat is fun and active.
- Many different kinds of content suit many different playstyles.
- Clever design decisions streamline successful MMO conventions.
- Awesome crafting system.
- Great Star Wars feel.
- Some boring, uninspired quest content.
- Many of the inefficiencies and grinds endemic to MMO’s remain unaddressed.
- Texture issues rob the game of fidelity.
- Not nearly enough space missions to keep them feeling fresh.
- Sometimes feels like a singleplayer game with a bunch of other people in the way.
Final Score: 88/100