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About this game
After a row of detours in the land of Legos, battlefronts, and action adventure games, Star Wars returns to the RPG in The Old Republic–a massively multiplayer online game coming not a moment too soon after its predecessor’s demise. Like many others who’ve come before it, The Old Republic stands trial as the latest would-be WoW killer on the block. A new hope dawns for what may potentially be one of the biggest game changers yet, but does the Old Republic really spell a new revolution in MMOs?
Layering upon a rich foundation of lore hewn from past games as well as an inexhaustible supply of extended universe material, The Old Republic presents not one but multiple stories to pursue on your voyage to the level 50 cap, all beginning with your choice of class. There are four general archetypes in all, branching out to eight across both the Republic and Imperial sides and more still when advanced class delineations come into play. Each opposing class is ultimately a mirror image of the rival faction’s version, but the significant difference here is what you’ll experience along the way.
As it turns out, one of The Old Republic’s biggest design points has curiously little to do with feeling part of a massively multiplayer online world; instead, the focus is on your individually-tailored journey determined by your class. By contrast to the starting questlines present in the first fleeting hours of other MMOs, The Old Republic’s ambitious story arcs are absolutely enormous in scope, lasting the entire duration of your character’s leveling career. Fully-voiced and animated conversations lacquer the experience with an active tone that demands attention, while the ability for players to make choices that ultimately shape factors like quest outcomes and character morality flirt with the elusive notion of consequence in an MMO world. After being spoiled by such well-produced cutscenes and voiceovers, the drab text box that’s become the MMO norm is suddenly an unwelcome sight.
In terms of making the player feel central to the journey, The Old Republic treads exuberant new ground amidst the genre’s stuffy conventions. Even the plethora of four-player instances, dubbed “flashpoints,” shows twinkles of inspiration when arms are laid down for the game’s spin on group diplomacy. But in most other regards, The Old Republic is far less daring in approach; kill and fetch quests are the norm, the need for hardwired party roles in groups prevails, and the touchstones that define the general nature of class, progression, and economic design bear more than a passing resemblance to World of Warcraft’s time-tested formula.
Objectively speaking, you’ll find few flaws among The Old Republic’s carefully manicured parts, but if there’s one legitimate grievance, it’s that it plays it much too safe with an intellectual property capable of so much more. The game is at its most interesting when it strikes its own path, such as with the AI-driven companion characters that serve as interactive foils in and out of combat. This isn’t to say that the game’s missteps come from a lack of ambition. It’s quite the opposite, in some cases. We would have much preferred a broader list of playable race options over the humdrum space combat, which comes off as something that the developers felt obligated to strike off a checklist.
Where the endgame is concerned, the player experience is suitably girded. The team-based PvP warzones remain fun, fast paced diversions all the way to the end, with the strange rugby-inspired Huttball standing out as the clear winner of the lot. Level-capped champions can grind out points for gear and vehicles, while players still on the treadmill can find the means to compete with passively-scaled stats. On the PvE side, flashpoints give way to the comparatively larger operation: perilous dungeons designed for raid-sized groups featuring fabulous rewards and the hardest encounters in the game. Presently, there are only two of these available, but future content patches promise to bolster the count, as well as that of warzones and flashpoints down the line.
Combat in The Old Republic follows the venerable MMO paradigm of hotbars, cooldowns, and talent trees. The genre’s well-worn standards don’t see many innovations here, instead finding strength through creative reworkings of established class tropes. By design, all classes in the game are capable of dealing damage as well as fulfilling at least one secondary role of healing or tanking, widening the threshold for party makeups to allow pretty much whatever combination you can think of so long as each class is specced to do the job right.
While there are only four basic classes, subtle tweaks in resource systems, skill properties, and equipment choice, compounded by talent specializations and each profession’s advanced class types, provide for a wide variety of playstyles. The modest and eminently squishy Jedi consular class, for one, can turn away from its spellcasting focus and take on a more melee and stealth based approach on the battlefield. Likewise, classes that you may think would only exclusively deal damage can turn out some pretty impressive support play in a pinch.
For the most part, The Old Republic’s sci-fi tinged take on the genre works well, though we wouldn’t be surprised to see some things change in the distant future. The smuggler’s rolling cover mechanic is novel but gimmicky at best; characters cannot presently switch between their advanced classes, and some minor responsiveness issues turn up when queuing up certain skills, resulting in a clunky and unpleasant feel. With any luck, players will see some improvements to these lingering quibbles as patches are dutifully issued over time.
Falling somewhere in between the fantastic reality of the films and the cartoon whimsy of the animated television series, The Old Republic presents a sharp stylized silhouette that pulls double duty as a resource light game with plenty of hardware scalability. Even the most modest of rigs should have little difficulty rendering the busy aerial highways of Coruscant, though expect a touch of “framey-ness” if you’re running on the low end. The visuals paint a vibrant and picturesque rendition of the Star Wars universe, though it isn’t completely impervious to the occasionally unflattering glitch. Animations also teeter from convincing to humorous, though for the most part, we’re impressed by the overall effort. The game’s soundtrack is resoundingly solid throughout, capturing the epic magnitude of John Williams’ iconic scores through every one of the game’s carefully cued moments.
Star Wars: The Old Republic’s unabashed resampling of the prevailing MMO model offers a valid and in many ways more approachable alternative to Blizzard’s juggernaut. It’s a great starting point for those curious about the genre, as well as a refreshing change of pace for seasoned MMO veterans. Blizzard can hang onto its coffers of gold for the time being, but as of now, Azeroth is no longer alone in the universe.
Best alternatives and similar games to star wars the old REpublic
- Knights of the old republic
- Star wars galaxies
- Star trek online
- Guild wars 2
This game is rated with a 85/100 score in Metacritic.
- 90 | IGN
- 80 | GameSpot
- 90 | Cheat Code Central
- 80 | GameSpy
- 80 | Eurogamer
- 83 | Gaming Age
- 91 | Worth Playing
- 80 | Game Revolution
- 75 | Multiplayer.it
- 90 | 1UP