Star Wars: the Old Republic

Since December 20 2011 I've lost more hours than I care to publicly admit to this game. It's not the first game of its kind (a Star Wars licensed MMORPG or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game); Sony (SOE) went down this path the better part of a decade ago. Star Wars Galaxies was a critical and financial disappointment which finally flicked the off switch just prior to The Old Republic's launch (likely as Lucasarts don't wish to compete with themselves). Undoubtedly SOE's failure was a disappointment for everyone involved; it was planned to be one of a series of games that would see Star Wars brought to the masses of online gamers and it stumbled at the first hurdle. The Old Republic too has had it's share of launch troubles.

While the game suffers from a handful of design flaws, it is enjoyable. From running around as a Jedi Padawan on the planet Tython and earning my first lightsaber, to the duck and cover blaster-fights of the Smuggler this game feels like Star Wars. It really appeals to the kid inside who mock-lightsaber-duelled and made his own sound effects.

Bioware's introduction of storytelling into the format adds a degree of depth and a sense of scale that is missing from other games. You feel like the hero of the story, rather than just another champion in the giant horde of generic champions. Bioware's storytelling methods are starting to feel a little clinical and formulaic however (a topic for another post) and are prone to Mary Sue issues. Even still, it adds a pace and personal investment that adds to the theme and grandeur that the setting demands. You are saving the world, and you are taking the fight to the man, up against impossible odds and legions of troops with blasters and force users with lightsabers.

It's not all good; there's an issue with active player population on some servers, and some of the reward mechanics have deterred players who might otherwise have played some of the games harder content extensively. The game is struggling to compete in terms of available content with it's more well-stablished competitors. It is however a pretty unique experience, and one that every Star Wars fan and gamer should probably give at least a try.

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