I didn’t know quite what to expect when I installed this game for the first time. Bioware are a company that have proven time and time again that they know a good story and how to tell it but until now have never produced anything on the scale of an MMORPG. So to say that I was both intrigued and cautious about how this game would reveal itself would be correct. After finding that my beta application had been accepted and doing a bit of research on The Old Republic I was buzzing for this game and what a start it got off to. The intro cinematic is like nothing I’ve seen in an MMO before and could have quite easily come from a fully animated Star Wars film. There is a separate showpiece for the Republic and the Empire depending on which faction you choose to align yourself with and this sets the feel for the starting area and quest lines perfectly.
The struggle is as always between the dark side and the light side and this is the recurring theme throughout the main hub of the story. There are four classes in each faction and each class has its own unique storyline that can be shaped by the player. The good old Bioware conversation wheel is back and for good reason. Being able to shape the dialogue gives you a more personalised feel and more attachment to your character, which is something that I feel many MMO’s I have played lack. Sure there are huge quest lines and plenty of story but every time you play through with another character it stays the same. This is not the case with Star Wars:The Old Rebublic. Answering in certain ways can lead to you gaining light side or dark side points which, if enough of either are gained, can shape the story for your character and the way they react in conversation.
There are plenty of side quests and areas to explore that don’t feel out of place or forced upon you and what I played of the storyline was very in depth and enjoyable. I found myself easily accustomed to the UI and how everything works. In fact there is almost nothing about this beta that I dont like… almost nothing.
If you’ve ever played any recent Bioware games then you will be well accustomed to the initial feel of the game. The graphics, voice acting and quest cut scenes much like Mass Effects and apart from the fact that there are other players running around doing the same quests as you, this could quite easily be a single player game (there are plenty of multiplayer elements to the game also). It seems at least to me that Bioware have played it very safe with this game and that for me is a little disappointing. No doubt this game will be great in some ways, but I was hoping for a revolution from a game that has received so much hype. Something that was going to bring a lot of ‘new’ to the table and not so much of the seasoned elements of every other Bioware game brought together.
This is after all only the beta and this is what testing is for. I can’t base any kind of a review off just a few levels of gameplay from a test build. What I did play of SW:TOR was enjoyable but the ‘new’ feeling you get when first install a game just wasn’t there for me and that was a shame. No doubt I will be buying this game on or soon after release in the hope that something has changed and as I’m not playing any MMO’s at the moment this will probably serve as a filler until something better comes out in 2012.
If you wish to see some gameplay from the Beta click here to watch the initial levels and storyline of the Jedi Knight.