By Josh Compaan
World of Warcraft (WoW) has been the champion of the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) scene for what seems like forever now. However, just before Christmas vacations started a new MMORPG became available to the masses. SW:TOR (Star Wars: The Old Republic) is the new game from Bioware/EA and has seen high marks throughout the review process. Overall, the game plays out similar to any other MMORPG on the market with a few tweaks to the system here and there. What follows is my opinion of the game as a whole.
Story: SW:TOR has done an absolutely amazing job with the quest lines. Unlike WoW which was completely text based, SW:TOR has taken time to add decision making, conversation and voice acting to the quests. Follow this up with unique areas being set aside for online your personal story it’s a refreshing change from the standard gather/kill/retrieve quests from WoW. The downside to this however, is that players are forced into a fairly linear questing path. I personally don’t think I could stomach playing through the quest lines more than twice.
Combat: SW:TOR has taken a page from WoW’s combat system and implemented it into their own. Each class has a set of skills which can be used on a cool down based system. The one major change was the removal of an auto-attack. Essentially, this leads players to mash keys repeatably. Honestly, combat reminds me a bit of playing Street Fighter when I was 7 years old. Most of the time I just mash random keys on my keyboard knowing that that I will win the fight no matter what. Other times, I attempt to play with surgical precision when I anticipate winning the fight by a narrow margin. This button-mashing combat system is my only combat related complaint about the game — but, WoW suffered from the same problem so I am sure it will be overlooked easily.
Graphics: Finally I am playing an MMORPG that has graduated from PlayStation style graphics. The graphics in SW:TOR are really a step-up from other MMORPGs on the market. I find them to be somewhere between Halo 2 and Skyrim. At times, the graphics will make me stop and enjoy a snowy mountain view like the ones on Aldaraan and at other times I will wonder how many times they can re-use the same bland piece of rock. However, I’ve never felt like the game was hindered from it’s graphics.
New Additions: Space combat is a blast! If you are a fan of rail shooters or Starfox the space combat missions will always been an exciting break from the routine. PvP games also help in taking a break from the norm. With a handful of never been tried PvP modes in an MMORPG it’s a refreshing way to continue to level your favorite Sith or Jedi character while trying your hand at something new and exciting. Finally, you are given different companions for your journey. This additional team-member makes a world of difference when questing and is a great addition to all the classes.
What It’s Missing: For some reason SW:TOR decided not to take the lead from WoW on a few basic features that have really hindered my enjoyment of the game. First, there is no Looking For Group (LFG) system. The best way to get a group together to beat a challenging mission is to run around the busiest of places yelling that you need a healer or tank. Second, there is no way to switch between specializations without entirely resetting your skills. The simple feature of Dual-Specialization in WoW was the perfect solution to this and SW: ToR should follow suit in the next month before the masses begin to hit the level cap and start delving into end-game content. Lastly, the user-interface is set in stone. It’s my user interface, let me unlock and move stuff around so it works best for me.
Overall: This is a great game and an excellent play. I have no hesitation in recommending it to all of my friends who enjoy MMORPGs. I feel it is a solid 8.5/10. If Bioware/EA patches in the missing features within the next few months I would easily move my score to a 9/10 or even a 9.5/10.