The following is just a snapshot of what many of us staffers here at MMORPG.com are thinking of BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic so far. It’s not indicative of our final review, which will be written by Mike Bitton. Rather, it’s a way for each of us to convey to you how we feel right now about SWTOR. It seems we all agree on at least one thing: the story is the jawa’s knees. You be sure to tell us your own thoughts in the comments below!
Bill Murphy – 9/10
I've actually been having an absolute ball... so much so that I’ve been staying up way too late most nights, which hasn’t happened since 2004 for me. I've seen a lot of this before, in many other MMOs, but I feel like it's very well polished and refreshed here. I think the pacing of the combat is spot on even if it’s traditional, and the PVP has been great so far. I love Huttball, but the Voidstar is way more fun and I think I could do it for hours and not get bored. I love the companion system, and the way it brings in some of the best parts of BioWare games to the MMO space. Heck, I even love the crafting, though I’ll be honest and say I’ve not yet made something worth using for my character… maybe when I get to make my own vehicles.
But it’s the story that makes this game really sing for me. Maybe it’s clouding my judgment, but simply being able to say I actually give a damn about the quests I’m sent on is a big deal for me. It’s been a long time since that happened. Innovation doesn’t always happen in huge waves. Sometimes it comes in small little doses, and BioWare merely bringing their sense of choice and story-telling to the MMO is a welcome change for me. On top of that, it’s just a really well put together piece of software.
Suzie Ford – 8/10
I have to say that I'm pleasantly, if guardedly, surprised. What people will love is that it's Star Wars and its wickedly awesome cinematic quests. For that, it's great. For everything else, it's just the latest pretty typical MMO. That said, I have to admit that it reminds me SO much of Mass Effect, just with lots of people running around. Your ship houses your companions just like in ME. A lot of the voice acting utilizes ME folks I'm sure. Coruscant reminds me of the cities in ME. All this Mass Effect-like stuff is good though.
On the plus side: Cinematics, interesting storylines, the feeling of really being heroic, some really great tiered story quests, pretty decent crafting if you're in to that, Star Wars franchise, good variety of starter areas, and a huge potential for growth. On the minus side: Not enough character customization, characters run (some of them) like they have sticks up their keesters, too many empty and lifeliess cities and quest hubs, unarguable and repetitive quest grind, too much running back and forth Fed-xing, very linear space combat. The story makes it great. The glaring omission of some key features lowers its score for me. Looks matter to me for my character. Yes, I'm that shallow.
Garrett Fuller – 9/10
Star Wars puts together the best parts of BioWare's expected gameplay with an MMO platform. The game keep you playing based on its strong story and social aspects. Like any MMO the most fun is playing with your friends. It is great to link up and do quests and the pace of the Flashpoints is faster than any dungeon runs that we have seen before. The great part about The Old Republic is that playing solo is fun and exciting just like a console title. If you get lonely or board with that style, reach out and join your faction for PvP or even some larger quests and adventures. The game has exceeded my expectations.
Adam Tingle – 8.5/10
World of Star Wars, Knights of the old Republic-craft, Jedi vs. Sith: Azeroth style - whatever you want to call it you're all wrong, and do you know why? Because its f**cking Star Wars. BioWare's latest creation doesn't recreate the MMO wheel, neither does it drastically change much, but it has evolved the genre in one simple way: story. Never before has a game come along where quests are engaging, simple tasks of collect X of Y have a purpose, and did I mention it has lightsabres? It definitely isn't going to set the world on fire with innovative design, but it does usher in a new dawn for the genre, a new day of engrossing plotlines, the end of badly scripted quests, and lowered focus on slouching in your chair, slumped, hardly engaging with the game, and thumbing your mouse trying desperately to reach the level cap. BioWare make amazingly detailed SRPGs, now they make fantastically absorbing MMORPGs.
And the fact I can force choke prisoners helps.
Danny Wojcicki – 6/10
SWTOR offers little to the MMORPG industry that hasn’t already been done. While the fully voice acted questing is a nice new feature, the lack of significance behind any of SWTOR’s countless quests causes the whole experience to fall flat. I find the gameplay in SWTOR to be bland and unoriginal, feel that the classes are a bit too simplistic, and think that the side aspects of the game, such as PVP, crafting & space combat, are all underwhelming at best. Despite this, SWTOR still comes off as a delightfully polished product with beautiful graphics, immersive audio, and an enjoyable Star Wars atmosphere. In short, SWTOR is great for Star Wars fans, but mediocre for everyone else.
Luke Karmali – 9/10
After waiting four years for this game, it had a lot to prove. So far I've loved every second of it. After playing a Sith Warrior in beta so as not to spoil any story for myself, my adventures as a Jedi Consular have been incredibly enjoyable. To all the people who rubbished BioWare's claims about the 4th pillar of story giving the genre a new dynamic, I have to disagree. I feel engaged with my character, I get a sense of progression from my personal story, not just my level, and I'm confident that if this continues at endgame I'll never get bored. The crew skills are incredibly addictive and the on-rails space shooting is simplistic but feels cinematic. The music is stonkingly good; hearing those familiar horns and strings piping up in the middle of a tough battle just feels glorious.
After doing my first flashpoint, the Esseles, I can confidently say I've never had as much fun in an instance in an MMO. The only problem is the other flashpoints haven't quite managed to measure up! Special mention also has to go to BioWare for the smoothness of early game access, and the stability of servers. I've had no instances of lag whatsoever in my week with the game and, personally, I don't mind the queues. A vibrant server community has already started to spring up, fostered by the decision not to include an automatic grouping tool and making people take to general chat for something other than obscure meme references and trolling. I've always loved Star Wars and the way things stand at the moment, with me already picking out what classes to level next to experience their stories, this game has enough fuel to last me for the foreseeable future...and I haven't even started PvPing yet.