The Star Wars universe is one of the greatest cult phenomena of the recent past. Starting with the movies, the series expanded to TV shows, animated series, comic books, and most importantly, video games. When it comes to Star Wars, there’s a whole galaxy of games that have expanded across the universe and taken into new directories. One such attempt was made by BioWare when they released Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic back in 2003 and Knights of the Old Republic 2 in 2004. Both were hailed as some of the best Star Wars games of all time. Now, BioWare is back with a meticulously-crafted and highly-anticipated sequel, Star Wars: The Old Republic, an MMORPG that stands as a titan in the genre and the industry.
The events of the game take place some 300 years after the last installment, and around 3,500 years before the events in the Star War movies. After the events of the last game, the Sith Lords have made their return to the galaxy and have become such a powerful force that the Galactic Republic is forced to sign a treaty to cease hostilities and bring an end to The Greatest War. The Jedi are wrongfully blamed for letting them succeed in re-establishing themselves. While the Jedi Knights relocate their headquarters to the planet of Tython, the sith slowly build up their forces on the planet of Korriban, and each side prepared for an offensive to wipe out the other to reclaim the galaxy. BioWare fans will find the storyline and the plot extremely well-structured like always. Though the course of the hugely-expensive game, players will be surprised to find story arcs that stretch out and form a cohesive bond as the characters level up. Just the decision to incorporate fully-voiced characters and quest-givers shows how devoted the developers were into making the story a major aspect of the experience.
Your choice of class determines the gameplay and type of character you are. The starting classes of both the Republic and the Empire are virtually mirror images of each other, but the ability to acquire specializations and purchase abilities essentially tailors each character to suit your needs. MMO veterans will find that the gameplay is mostly tailored to what is now considered the norm in the market – players engage in a combat with a variety of metres and special abilities, while focusing on bringing their opponents’ hit-points down to zero. Yet, specific elements of the game will feel as if they are geared more towards a single-player experience. The AI buddy system, for example, feels a lot like previous games from the developer’s other space-based behemoths, and even the conversation system points towards tales of saving the galaxy from invading aliens. Also, the game follows a lot of the same old formula that has been done to death in almost every MMO in the market, with some might find easy to fit into, while others would consider lacking innovation. To its credit though, the game does a brilliant job of replicating the MMO experience and adding slightly new touches to the formula. Player-versus-Player (PvP) battles are fun to engage in and provide a great experience (if you fancy creating your own Jedi versus Sith encounters). Additionally, raids are incorporated into the game, and while there are only two currently available, they provide a fun and challenging opportunity to experience more of the co-operative aspect of the game. The space missions do seem novel in their approach at first, but after a few tries, they start to feel like something you wouldn’t want to frequent very often. Also, some odd control issues pop up at times, and queuing certain attacks and skills feels clunky.
Visuals and sounds
As far as detailing the breadth of an enormous galaxy goes, BioWare has done an amazing job of incorporating as much of the Star Wars universe as possible. The aesthetic designs paint each hub world with a vibrant atmosphere that has plenty of character and colour, and the models are comparable to the recent animated series. There are plenty of things to look at and be pleased with, and Star Wars fans will also find things to chuckle at, for example the universe lore. The user interface, on the other hand, is somewhat inflexible and mostly tedious to navigate. While the game can pulls its weight on modest hardware, an updated rig is recommended to avoid issues regarding choppiness of controls and visuals. As mentioned earlier, characters within the game are fully-voiced, with most voices doing the characters justice, and the sweeping orchestral soundtrack feels right at home with John Williams’ immortal compositions. The game certainly feels like it’s been pulled right out of the heads of millions of Star War fans.
With all its vices and virtues taken into account, Star Wars: The Old Republic Stands out as one of the biggest powerhouses of the MMO genre, which explains its dramatic rise to fame in such a short amount of time. There is something for everyone here, be they Star Wars fanboys, MMO fanatics, or a hybrid of both. If you are looking for a vacation from the plains of Azeroth, get ready to be whisked to a galaxy far, far away.