MMORPG's are probably the one genre that reviewers seem to judge on a different scale than other games. Take the single player RPG genre for example. If SW:ToR were reviewed in the same manner as say Knight of the Old Republic, SW:ToR would be woefully gimped in comparison and to be honest, would not even warrant a review. Let us start by breaking down a review that I read in a magazine.
Reviewer says " I reluctantly made my selection on the familiar BioWare dialog wheel and betrayed my always-faithful insectoid allies".
Isnt " I get to choose a theme and how i roleplay my character " a standard part of what an RPG is? We all know roleplaying isnt always packed into a roleplaying game but it should be and the example I quoted should be something that is expected and not praised. In my humble opinion the idea of roleplaying in and RPG should not be considered innovative. "But", you say, " this is an MMORPG"! Why should an MMORPG be held to a different standard than an RPG I ask you? Yes I understand that graphics will always take a hit in an MMORPG. I do not expect SW:ToR to have the same visual polish as Skyrim but to expect the same level of story, roleplay, and immersion, is that really asking to much?
To take this quote and the idea behind it a bit further, why didnt BioWare attempt to implement phasing in such a way as to make your choices actually matter? In the end, no matter which choice I pick on any BioWare dialog wheel does not the endgame remain the same? The question becomes, do these dialog choices become completely trivial in the end? The answer is an obvious, Yes, Yes every single choice that you have made is trivial. Now innovative would have been to take not every choice but major choices and make them matter. Imagine if that dialog choice you made exterminated an entire alien culture from the game. Now imagine that by making this choice, your character is now moved to a different server and on this server exists every single player that made this exact choice. I believe that this would begin to mold the world around your actual decisions and that of every player that participates in your world and this is the definition of "Role Playing" to me.
" All 17 of the games worlds are brought to life with evocative architecture. meticulous set design, and a convincing population. Many quest hubs are the size of small cities with over a hundred soldiers, merchants, doctors, civvies, and the rest going about their business inside".
As I read the review for a 3rd time, this quote jumps off the page at me. SW:ToR has the most static environment that I have ever seen in a current generation MMORPG. I have played free to play MMORPG's that have environments that are much more immersive. Even if you havnt played SW:ToR you can find countless youtube videos of SW:ToR environments where NPC's simply stand in 1 spot, motionless, like they are frozen in time. I just do not see how anyone can use the phrase "brought to life" in the most static, stagnate environment to ever exist in a PC game. If you havnt, go to youtube and type: SWTOR lifeless static world and be amazed. When you see jedi in some sort of combat stance with their hands glowing, never once moving besides the constant bobbing up and down while their enemy leans over holding their head in their hands, never once moving even a half inch, frozen until the end of time, you will realize that "brought to life" isnt a phrase that BioWare understands.
"The pool of playable species, however is miniscule-you'll be disappointed if you wanted a freaky-looking alien."
When character customization like Age of Conan exists, how can character creation in SW:ToR even be considered passable for a pay to play game. This is a role playing game and I wish to role play. When every other character looks exactly like you, how can you possibly feel immersed. Character customization visually and through game mechanics is beyond lacking, i was bored after 30 minutes of play. When I first played City of Heroes I spent more than 30 minutes just designing how my character looked and enjoyed every minute of it. I do have to say that I am an altoholic, meaning that I love to create a multitude of alternate characters and with the way SW:ToR is designed, I had no desire to make more than 3 characters. After playing with the talent tree's I found a lack of options to tailor my character to a play style other than the generic one that you start with, yet again leaving me feeling like every other agent or bounty hunter.
"That said, the novel Bonus Objective system, which usually makes you 'KIll X' portions of quests optional, does a fine job of breaking out grinding and making it a separate choice."
This is probably the first time ive seen a reviewer defend the option of "grinding" and I do respect that option although I felt that the quest system was so basic that everything felt like a grind. Grinding quests, grinding mobs, grinding linear no exploration flash points, grinding my teeth. Even PvP felt like a grind and I am a person that loves to PvP. Knowing that there were three warfronts to participate in at the low level of 10 put a smile on my face until I realized that I simply do not enjoy huttball and that there is no way for me to not queue for huttball when queueing for the other two warfronts and to top it off, you will end up playing hutball 2x more often than either the other two warfronts(grind!), To conclude the topic of questing, grinding ,and bonus objectives I direct you again to other games, when dynamic rifts may open up at any time, when world events can occur at any moment, hell even when public quests exist, SW:ToR brings nothing new to the table and if new isnt your thing, SW:ToR even goes so far as to fail to copy the things from its competition that would make SW:ToR a much more immersive world.
The quotes I posted are from a review of SW:ToR that I perused while sitting on the toilet. Reviews like this are made for toilet reading because they seriously make you want to flush them down the drain along with the other excrement. These kinds of reviews lead me to believe that mmo's are treated in a softer, kinder manner than most every other game genre and to be honest, I do not understand why. Yes mmo's take longer to develop and cost far more than a single player rpg would cost but on the flip side, that mmo costs the consumer far more to play than any single player rpg and the mmo has the potential to lead to much greater profit. So in my opinion, there is no valid reason to not review an mmo in the same manner as any other game available.