Star Wars holds a special place in the hearts of many people. The story telling captures the imagination of the young and old alike on many different levels. It tells the story of good versus evil, greed versus generosity, and the little guy versus the big guy. There are countless characters in the epic tale of Star Wars and at least in one of those characters you can see yourself in some way. Some see themselves as the person that feels trapped by their legal guardian who only wants you to spend another season to work on moisture vaporators. You might see yourself as a lady’s man who is just trying to do what is necessary in protecting the fragile economy of a gas mining colony. Who am I kidding; most people see themselves as the imperial officer whose job is to oversee the disabling of the hyper drive of the Millennium Falcon while his overtime hours are shrinking. What people can agree on is they want to play out their very own story in Star Wars in some unique way and thankfully Bioware has developed the answer to this desire in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Bioware is no stranger to storytelling or even Star Wars games. What they are strangers to is developing a large scale subscription based MMORPG. So how does one company put story in a game genre that seems to take story and put it on the back seat? Please don’t misunderstand me, story has been in MMORPG’s since the beginning, yet the question remains, how can Bioware take what they are known for, interactive epic story telling, and merge it with the sensitive MMORPG genre?
Star Wars: The Old Republic takes place long before Darth Vader choked his first imperial officer. 3000 years to be exact. It is a time of peace, maintained by the Republic. Eventually the Sith Empire, which was thought to be extinct, decided to show its ugly head and start a galactic war struggle. The Sith Empire first started by taking its old home world of Korriban back from the Republic. Then they swiftly moved to the core worlds and then finally hit the Republic Capital of Courasant. Since the Empire struck so quickly and rapidly there was nothing the republic could do but strike a treaty. Thus “The Treaty of Corasant” was signed. Tensions are quickly growing shortly after the signing of the treaty. The cold war era has begun and another war is lurking just around the corner. Your character’s story is about to begin.
There are many different options you are faced with when creating your character in The Old Republic. The first is which side you are going to play on. Does the Republic who has stood for thousands of years upholding peace in the galaxy peak your interest? Maybe the Sith empire beckons your dark side. After you picked your side the next option is what class to play. MMORPG’s are based on different classes. Each class has a unique set of skills and roles you play in the game. The Republic and Sith each have their own classes to choose from. Each faction has four classes as well as their advanced classes once you progress further into the game to open up new skills and roles. Once you have made the decision of what class to play, the next option is what race to pick. Star Wars has many iconic races in its universe and some of those are available along with new ones. Character creator comes with customizable options to tweak the way you want your character to look. After countless options you finally decided on something to your liking and so your story begins.
The iconic floating yellow text fills your screen with the recognizable Star Wars music which fills your ears. It hints to you that maybe, just maybe, your character has a huge role to play in the events that are currently unfolding in the galaxy. Your character makes their entrance and begins your first interactive cut scene. Each character is fully voiced and has dialog options to choose from. Certain dialog options make your character become good or evil. These are not the only ones you are going to come across. From now on, each quest now has back story given in this way. You are certainly pulled into this story of power and struggle which greatly immerses your Star Wars: The Old Republic experience. This greatly eases the grind that comes with most MMORPG. The grind that I am referring to is in reference to leveling your character, killing enemies and trying to get better gear for your character. Each class has its own story in how it is told. The greatest thing that comes with this is when you are leveling with other people your stories become intertwined. This creates a unique gameplay experience which I’ve never really seen before.
As you progress your character’s story through Star Wars: The Old Republic, different experiences arise. Difficult decisions will have to be made that will affect how your character’s story plays out and how it will affect the galaxy in general. You will travel iconic planets seen in the Star Wars universe along with new ones. The ability to have your own spaceship blasting enemies or gathering a group of buddies to venture into an abandoned warehouse full of battle droids is common place.
Star Wars: The Old Republic has many things that I enjoyed while playing this game. It has taken what Star Wars is known for, great storytelling, and put it into an MMORPG. I couldn’t help but feel that my character was uniquely important and that he mattered significantly in this giant game universe. Leveling my character through the grind didn’t feel that way in other MMORPG’s. I took a calm approach and enjoyed the interactive story telling which The Old Republic had to offer. Even when starting a new character, the leveling process seemed different because it is from a different character class point of view.
I loved almost everything about game and of course there were some things I didn’t. However, they were only small concerns as the majority of the game was extremely entertaining. I wanted more with the ‘space’ aspect of the game. It doesn’t do much to add to the character’s story and it is certainly not required to play either. You can go through the whole game and not once use your spaceship to blast enemies. The second thing that grips me about this game is the light and dark choices. They really seem to not affect your character other than the gear choices that in later levels really doesn’t matter at that point.
The thing with MMORPGs is that they are constantly evolving and changing. They correct themselves over time and add new things to the game. My dislikes for this game might be changed over time as well as the things I enjoyed but I don’t expect much to take from the games sheer enjoyment. There is a community in the game and they are the ones who fuel the game through subscriptions. Complainers complain, haters hate, and force chokers force choke. Star Wars: The Old Republic will evolve sometimes sooner and sometimes later.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is a fantastic MMORPG. There will be bumps in the road because of the ever-changing landscape which the genre presents. In this game the good outweighs the bad. Bioware has kept its promise and brought back story into the genre. It takes the epic story telling of Star Wars and seamlessly merges it with MMORPG gameplay. Someone who loves Star Wars, the hardcore MMORPG fanatic, or a mixture of both will find common place and enjoy what Star Wars: The Old Republic has to offer.