Customer Review

493 of 575 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's got all the issues of a young title but it's brilliant, December 19, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Star Wars: The Old Republic - PC (DVD-ROM)
Many people playing this game are either (a) new to massively multiplayer online gaming (MMO) or (b) come from either World of Warcraft or Star Wars Galaxies. Thus, there is a lot of room for expectations to become let downs. I'd like to take a moment and explain exactly what SWTOR is, at this point in its evolution.

MMO titles go through many iterations. The most difficult time for an MMO is almost always at launch. When Warcraft launched, it included 60 levels and two raids (MC + Onyxia had been created for launch but not enabled, wowiki more or less agrees). The equipment didn't look exciting and the world was quite small compared with its size today. Before purchasing SWTOR, it is important to realize that the title is at this point in its evolution.

These games go through many iterations. Part of the reason we pay a monthly subscription fee is because the game never stops being developed. Our monthly dues ensure that many of the features that didn't make it into the launch are developed later. Bioware has focused exclusively on core game play features, steadfastly refusing to be distracted that the fluff that will allow for a lush universe a couple of years from now. As a result, the game can tend to feel stripped down to its most basic elements if you are used to a seven year old game like WoW. If the bare-bones feeling of a new virtual world is a deal breaker for you, then seriously consider waiting until December 2012 before purchasing this game.

Many impressions around the internet include flaws from beta. These should be taken with a grain of salt. There were several different beta groups and all were testing different versions of the game's features in order to determine what would work best at launch. The danger of a large scale beta is that many players will nit pick at it as though they are seeing a final product after nine months of post-launch support. SWTOR has often been judged in this harsh light.

When you enter the game world for the first time, you will find out whether or not your computer needs an upgrade. The lowest system spec I have comfortably played this game on is an E6750 (Core 2 Duo 2.66) with a modern video card (nVidia 550TI). Anything beneath this line is going to feel jerky. Please be aware of this before purchasing the game as it will severely impact your experience if the camera movements are not smooth.

One of the most questioned features of SWTOR is also one of the favorites at launch. Between the musical score and the voice acting, this game captures a level of emotion that has not been accomplished in past online worlds. The first time I played through the Sith Inquisitor class during beta, I tried make dark side decisions for their own sake, knowing that some gear required greater devotion to the dark path. On the third planet, this caused me to have to kill an arrogant young Sith apprentice, whose father I was working for, and all I got in return was a common (green item type) lightsaber. The man was furious in his pain, his voice acting was beautifully done. By that decision, my dark alignment moved to 2 and the Sith corruption on my character's face turned his sunken eyes a deep bruised purplish black. Surprisingly, I had a strong emotional reaction to this. I began to make light side choices when the most horrible dark side choices were presented and as a result started to play a far more rational Sith force user. It was as though I had actually hit a turning point in my character's development where he moved from being a bitter former slave towards being a future leader.

On the flip side, the Jedi experience is cannon to a point of feeling like a Norman Rockwell painting. Without making an occasional dark decision, the player is faced with a character who does the right thing no matter the cost and no matter who is hurt. The Jedi are blind religious justice when played as lightside for lightside. These nuances were not something I expected to find and to be honest, they were not something I particularly recognized until I had played through several of the character classes. As an aside, playing the Imperial Agent as lightside is very much a James Bond experience.

Your first or second time through, it will be easy to criticize what you think is a plot on rails. Keep going and you'll find there are subtle gradations that really change the feel of the game depending on how you play and you may regret that some decisions cannot be taken back without starting over again. This is a good thing.

From a pure mechanics standpoint, the game is similar to Warcraft. Blizzard really wrote the book on how a game should operate. Many players have been upset that they were able to sit down and feel immediately at home in SWTOR. To them, I would point out that on the rare occasion in my life when I have driven a Ferrari or a Lamborghini I have not been disappointed that the car still had a steering wheel and a gas pedal. The point of building a supercar is not to create an alien experience but, rather, to heighten all that makes the driving experience so exhilarating. SWTOR has taken the best of Warcraft's mechanics and super-powered them. There are subtle differences, especially in the crafting and companion systems, but the game is truly a collection of seven years worth of homage to Blizzard. It doesn't significantly diverge until around level 30. If you feel that this is a bad thing then perhaps this is not the game for you.

Many people have worried that boss mechanics would be ho-hum and as a result the game would plateau after level 50, losing subscribers back to Warcraft, as has happened to a great many titles. Were we talking about boss mechanics four months ago, I would have been inclined to agree. My guildmates from Warcraft are very accomplished raiders though and even they had to own up to the fact the last boss on the second major Flashpoint (Bringing Down the Hammer) was a surprisingly tough fight. They declined to repeat the Flashpoint in hard mode, instead electing to move on with the game content, because they realized they were not yet ready to take the content up a notch based on their gear to level ratio. If the boss design can sustain that level of increasing complexity up through endgame operations then this title will have a truly special raiding component.

Yes, there are bugs. Some of the bugs during early access have been frustrating because we squashed them two months ago in beta but they have returned (un-clickable mining nodes come to mind). Others are based on newer systems that were refined just in time for launch. Sometimes, at the right camera angle, all of the walls disappear leaving only the background image for the planet. Is it frustrating? If you are used to XBox type launches, yeah. Is it game breaking? No, not for an MMO. This is all par for the course.

All in all, Bioware has created a worthy heir to the throne of World of Warcraft. The game is young and it lacks the complexity of a mature title but it has lots of positive momentum in the right direction. If you love the Star Wars universe and enjoy MMO gaming then there is absolutely no reason not to pick up this title right now. If, however, you are someone who needs a bug free, mature, later stage title to be fulfilled then you should wait a while before buying Star Wars: The Old Republic.

[12/21 Update: 12/20 brought severe sever queues with new players exercising their first month free. This is a situation that will stabilize by 2/1 but it *will* degrade your retail experience. Bioware seems to have increased realm caps to deal with the situation, however, it will likely repeat itself with holiday accounts signing in for the first time four days from now]

[12/24 Update: Sever queues have been well under control, however, the 25th is coming. More on that in a bit. I wanted to add the following to my review:

Space is really a mini game and as such it falls outside of the MMO experience. Most recently, Star Trek tried to fully develop a space + ground MMO. The dev teams were clearly split and neither one created a particularly good experience. Like Star Wars Galaxies before it, I suspect Bioware will focus on space in a couple of years when the ground game is fully developed.

Until then, think of Space as a mini-game that is good for picking up XP and credits between planets. You'll enjoy it more that way. If you try to think of space as a part of the MMO experience, you will be sorely disappointed.

Finally, if you have not played past level 30, do not assume you are fit to judge the game. The first 10 levels are spent learning the interface. The next 20 are spent learning your advanced class. 30-40 is spent learning the advanced stats and 40-50 is spent honing your rotation.
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Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 89 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 19, 2011 10:58:33 PM PST
ThrUSioN says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2011 1:01:51 AM PST
I. Armstrong says:
Well, that certainly changes the content of my review...

You are right, I showed up about six or seven months in. I stuck with SWG until the devs destroyed it. With that said, WowWiki begs to differ with your story.

Take it up with them.

Posted on Dec 20, 2011 3:52:56 PM PST
I just want point out that WoW bored me and I love this game. And I fully acknowledge that there are very obvious similarities to WoW. Bioware didn't reinvent WoW so much as add their own thing to it and it works very well. It's also a very single-player friendly game but don't be surprised if you get sucked into the Flashpoints.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2011 9:57:14 PM PST
I wanted to know if when you buy the standard edition does it come with a 1month membership or do i have to buy my own.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2011 10:47:37 PM PST
You get your first 30 days free.

Posted on Dec 21, 2011 8:13:31 AM PST
Dungle says:
Well written review, you made many valid points.

It's refreshing to read an objective opinion. You (unintentionally?) pointed out many of the flaws in other reviewer's posts. They seem to be making impatient and biased judgements before giving the game any time either with the released or unreleased content.

For a day one title, this game is spot on.

(well, minus some of the server queues ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 21, 2011 9:33:17 AM PST
I. Armstrong says:
All accounts get a free month. That's been part of the challenge with long server queues. Many accounts will drop at the end of January as the population stabilizes. Again, this is another valid reason to wait if you aren't frothing at the proverbial bit to play the game. The quality will go up significantly in another 4-6 weeks when the trial crowd drops out.

Posted on Dec 22, 2011 6:30:20 AM PST
Erabus says:
First off, very well written review.

Second, if it helps, WoW did not have an honor system at all, no raids (Molten Core wasn't added until a few months after launch. Jumping out the window into the lava anayone?) and an only partially accessible 5-man (BRS) that had a bug that allowed players to zone in more than one group to an instance. Nit-picky crap, I know. Just trying to help add validity to a strong review.

Posted on Dec 22, 2011 2:26:55 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 22, 2011 2:34:47 PM PST
Eridanus says:
Excellent and well written post. However, I want to mention that WoW had no Battlegrounds at launch (Nov 23rd, 2004) with the two initial Battleground areas, Alterac Valley and Warsong Gulch, going live June 7th, 2005. Arathi Basin wasn't added until September 13th, 2005.

Posted on Dec 22, 2011 3:16:47 PM PST
J. Luciano says:
Good review. I bought this game for the soul purpose of playing when I want to get a Star Wars/MMO fix and will most likely play it it a bit more casually than most MMO players (we'll see though, could end up that I really enjoy it enough to play it hardcore). For what it is, I think I'll be perfectly satisfied. I love bioware's story system, so I think I'll enjoy this even though the combat gameplay isn't groundbreaking. I just want to kill things with a lightsaber with some friends.

How is the space ship combat? I heard it's on rails, which I'm a little so-so about. I like stuff like Star Fox and all, but when I found out it was going to be here I wondered if it would just feel tacked on. Is it fun, or just kind of "meh"?
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