Star Wars: The Old Republic — GameFront Impressions (Part I)
Access to The Old Republic’s pre-order-powered early play was far from predictable, but by the end of last week, the GameFront team had all arrived in a galaxy far, far away. The article that follows (first in a three-part series) covers the initial ten levels of gameplay (more or less). Each writer will present his take on four topics: Character Creation, Combat, Quests/Story, and Mechanics/Tutorials. Keep reading to find out what we thought!
Ron Whitaker — Sith Marauder
SWTOR’s character creation is fairly straightforward. After selecting your class, race, and gender, you adjust sliders to customize your character. It’s an adequate system, but I do wish there could have been more options available for customization. However, that’s not a real negative, as I wish for more options in almost every MMO.
If those wishes could come true, I’d have more control for the player over body type, perhaps with individual sliders for different bodily regions. I’d also expand some of the cosmetic options, such as tattooing, scarring, and hair. Some of the haircuts available to the Sith race almost feel like a joke, they’re so out of place.
Still, what’s important is that character creation is simple and easy to understand. Even if you’ve never played MMOs before, you’ll have no issues building out a character that you can be happy with, and it won’t take all day — unless the name you want is already taken.
C.J. Miozzi — Sith Marauder
Check out C.J.’s Beta Impressions
A Star Wars MMORPG ultimately revolves around playing out our childhood fantasies of being a part of the Star Wars universe. We wanted to be Boba Fett and wear Mandalorian armor. We wanted to master the Force and wield a lightsaber. We wanted to feel the power of the Dark Side.
TOR’s character creation allows us the freedom to portray whatever character we wish to by making species choices largely cosmetic. Apart from “social abilities” that have no mechanical effect on a character build, your choice of species simply determines your appearance and what classes are available to you. You don’t have to worry about selecting the perfect race for your optimal Sith Warrior build — be whoever you want to be.
The game presents a fair number of appearance customization options, though I wouldn’t say no to more. Choice of hairstyle seems to revolve around finding which you find least ugly rather than which you like best, but that is probably more a reflection of the current state of hair modeling technology than of artistic direction.
Ben Richardson — Bounty Hunter Mercenary
Game designers don’t tend to take a lot of risks when it comes to character customization screens, and the utility in TOR is pretty cut and dried. Still, it acts as a good introduction to the game’s aesthetic: characters are quite stylized, which will be immediately apparent once you start scanning through all the airbrushed-looking options.
As Ron and C.J. point out above, there are fewer customization options than one might expect. It seems a silly thing to complain about, but there really aren’t any decent hair options. Only four body types, too, and only a handful of different faces. TOR’s graphics are just realistic enough to make you want to tweak individual features (cower before Darth Cyrano!), but that’s not possible.
Different variables determine the array of tweaks that are available. Human characters will be able to pick from an array of different beards, but Cyborg characters will find that slider replaced with various cybernetic face decorations. Curiously, though, some of these sci-fi augmentations still involve facial hair. Even more curiously, the same options aren’t always available to characters of the same race and gender, but differing Class. A human Smuggler might have different beard options than a human Bounty Hunter, for example.
Overall, though, players should find creating their character a lot of fun. BioWare was wise to circumscribe the options to prevent people from really going wild, and it’s possible to look unique without violating the game’s aesthetic standard. Judging from the people on my server, “big muscles and mohawk” is the hot Bounty Hunting look for winter.