Within the next few months- probably around Christmas -Blizzard Entertainment will take a hit, and that hit will be called Knights of the Old Republic. Unlike other reviewers, I won't sugar coat their inevitable rise to power with assumption and baseless opinion. Even if KoTOR is merely an average game, players are desperate for something new. Conan didn't provide it, Warhammer was found lacking, and there has been nothing of merit from the f2p contingent. Starwars already has a massive fanbase pre-installed, so KoTOR will succeed on momentum alone, at least in the short term.
Long term? A lot of players would assume that it's a slam dunk given Bioware's success in the past, but then they're forgetting the Neverwinter Nights series. The name Bioware isn't a natural twenty to win and awesome as some would assume, but its hereitage is nonetheless potent. Still, I'd be remiss if I didn't express my concern for the juggernaut MMO threatening all it surveys, a concern that aims squarely at the class line up. The Starwars universe leans heavily toward ranged based combat. To point, the only dedicated melee class in KoTOR appears to be the Jedi and Sith, which leaves six other classes (or three per faction) as being something else, which brings me to my primary concern.
Ranged warfare in either of the previous Republic RPG titles wasn't that stellar. In fact it was down right stale to be honest. Specing a blaster user pretty much consisted of standing in one spot and, well, blasting until something dropped dead. Oh, you could chuck a grenade too. In short, it was probably the weakest experience in all of KoTOR, an otherwise solid title, and now six out of eight classes appear to be drifting in that direction for the upcoming MMO.
Not that I'm going to cry too much about it. I'll be rolling a sith or jedi anyway.
Nor did Critical Mass inspire me in that department. It's always been a pet peeve of mine in RPGs that let you aim, just not hit anything because of your low stats. Great Story. Beautiful game, just the whole "you can aim but not really" thing always turns me off, regardless of the title.
Bioware can probably get the story right. They've done it before, though they've also failed miserably at it too. Their best work was with Black Isle, but I'm sure the company will achieve the general feel right. They've won awards for their KoTOR universe, after all. But the classes. They scare me and are about the only thing keeping me from throwing my full backing into Bioware's first dip into the MMORPG realm. So far KoTOR is inspiring that epic feeling I got when I saw the first screens for Warcraft a whole year and a half before launch, but the only thing holding me back is the doubt. Bioware's taken a vacation from win since their console debut, let alone the glory days of Baldur's Gate. So far it feels like a lightsaber game, with everything else- including the other classes -merely revolving around that fact. The recently released trailer does nothing to dissuade that feeling either. It's lots of lightsaber with occasional shots of "those other guys."
Frankly, I hope it's the other way around. I hope I am wrong and they are able to break new and innovative ground for blaster users beyond their track record to date. Lacking innovation, I hope they fall back on something that works, and in my opinion, that won't be found in their previous titles. At least not from a mass appeal standpoint.