| Fully-voiced cinematic questing
Intense and enjoyable Star Wars combat
Dialogue choice wheel with light-side/dark-side choices
Unique and enjoyable crafting system
| Limited character creation options
User Interface is not customizable
Space combat is disappointing
Customer support is lacking
I tested SWTOR for several months in the closed beta and am currently playing the released game as well. I have leveled multiple characters to high levels on both the Republic and Empire sides and have experienced most aspects of the game.
MY OVERALL RATING IS: 8.5/10 - SWTOR is a great game in my opinion, but it isn't perfect. It has its problems, but it is very fun and I think it will only get better from here. I admit I may be somewhat biased as Bioware has always been one of my very favorite game developers, but I really think they have done a great job with this game.
Graphics: 8/10 - In my opinion, the graphics in TOR are very good. I was not initially that wild about the character models, but I grew to love them over time. I have always thought that the look and feel of the zones is extremely good. They nailed the Star Wars universe in my opinion. The one negative I would report about the graphics is that they are not as optimized as I would hope at this stage. I expected that the game would run much better than it does considering the stylized approach Bioware has taken with the game. Certain areas like the Coruscant senate tower lowered my framerate significantly compared to others. Still, the game was just released and I have faith this will improve in time. My lower framerate may also have been the result of forcing anti-aliasing. Unfortunately AA is still not implemented and I have a hard time playing games these days without it.
Character Creation: 7/10 - Character creation definitely gets the job done, but I feel it could have been a lot better. I don't really mind the fact that there aren't that many playable races at launch and I understand why Bioware had to design the game this way. My biggest complaint is that there just aren't enough body types. The available options are basically skinny twirp, less-skinny twirp, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chris Farley. I always wanted to create a character somewhere between less-skinny twirp and the Terminator, but unfortunately I did not have that option.
Questing/Story: 10/10 - This is where Bioware really hit home. The game is revolutionary in that questing really does not feel like questing in other MMOs. It feels like you are playing a single-player Bioware game. For some people this might be a negative, but for me it is most definitely a positive. I am the type of gamer who gets seriously bored of grinding mobs or completing wall-of-text quests found in most other themepark games. SWTOR is hugely refreshing to someone such as myself and I found that I never really felt like I was grinding. The one negative I see with this model is that I will be less inclined to play through the same class's storyline a second time as I already know everything that will happen. Still, I know I will enjoy the hell out of it the first time through and I have played through Bioware games multiple times in the past, so this may not actually be much of a problem for me.
Grouping/Flashpoints: 10/10 - This one was really surprising for me. I thought that SWTOR was going to be a very solo-oriented game, but it did not end up that way for me at all. There are so many heroic quests spread around the maps that require multiple players to complete and I found myself grouping far more in this game than I have in other MMOs I have played recently. The addition of the multiplayer conversation rolls and social point rewards all provide further incentive to group up often. The flashpoints are also great and often require real teamwork and strategy to complete. Ultimately I think Bioware did a fantastic job on this element of the game.
Combat: 9/10 - I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth and reactive the combat in SWTOR is. Even though it is not a big change from other themepark MMOs, the fact that there is no auto-attack and the excellent quality of the combat animations really make for a great combat experience. Additionally, the element of multiple opponents in every fight is a great change. I really don't have any complaints about the combat, but I won't give it a 10/10 simply because it doesn't bring anything hugely different to the genre.
Inventory: 9/10 - The inventory system works well and is laid out in functional and intuitive way. You start with a relatively small amount of space, but you can upgrade to additional slots as the game progresses. The prices for these upgrades become a little steep as you go, but it does give you something to save for. Ultimately I don't really have any big complaints about the inventory.
Itemization: 8/10 - I was initially very unimpressed with this aspect of the game as it had gone through many variations during my beta testing and often felt like Bioware did not know what they wanted to do with the system. Since release, however, the itemizatation has seemed very solid and I like the direction Bioware is taking. The modifcation system allows players to modify gear and effectively continually upgrade things if they like the look of certain sets. A player could potentially keep the same items throughout the entire game if they paid to swap mods from new gear. This fulfills the needs of the appearance tab found in other games and also adds an extra level of customization to gear through the many mods that can be added to equipment. All in all, its a solid system that I am enjoying quite a lot.
User Interface/Map: 8/10 - The UI is very intuitive and easy to use. Most every feature one would expect in a themepark MMO is already present. The map is very handy and shows where you need to head to complete quests. It will also go partially transparent when your character is in motion so that you can continue traveling while watching your progress with the map open. The one negative (for which I dock two points) is that the UI is not very customizable. I guess I got a bit spoiled by games like WoW where every element of the UI can be resized, repositioned or completely altered using 3rd-party mods. SWTOR does not currently allow for this and I personally see that as a negative. However, I can certainly make due with the UI that is offered and will still be having a great time playing the game. Hopefully Bioware will allow further customization in the future.
Crafting: 9/10 - I have always found crafting to be rather boring in other games, so I really enjoyed Bioware's unique take on it in SWTOR. Sending my companions to harvest resources or make items while I continue adventuring is a really nice twist. It means I can be constantly making progress on crafting while never really having to spend much of my precious gaming time on it. I know some crafting-oriented players may not be as wild about this as I am, but I personally think it is a great approach. Way to go Bioware!
Housing: 8/10 - It may not be anything like housing in sandbox games, but at least Bioware is giving us personal ships where we can store goods and house our companions. I think this is a great touch. The only reason I dock any points at the moment is because there really aren't any options for customizing the interior at present. I think this is hugely important to many gamers and I think Bioware needs to add this ASAP.
PVP: 8/10 - The PvP in SWTOR is a lot of fun. The warzones are done really well and remind me a lot of the battlegrounds in WoW or the scanarios in WAR. There are also open PvP zones that seem to be well done, but I honestly never spent much time there. The one major complaint I have with PvP at the present time is that the classes are not as balanced as I would like. This usually takes developers some time to get right and I know they are hard at work at this, so I have faith it will get better over time.
Space Combat: 7/10 - This is one aspect of the game that I felt was pretty disappointing. The space mini-game is just too simple and really isn't all that fun in my opinion. Still, it is only a mini-game and you never HAVE to do it, so I really can't fault them too much for that. I have actually found myself enjoying it more since release than I did in beta, but I still have to fault Bioware for repeating some of the same space missions with harder enemies. I also feel like they could have done MUCH more with the space combat element in this game and I hope that eventually they will.
Polish: 9/10 - Even though it was just released, the game is already in great shape. Almost everything in the game is working and polished. There are still occasional bugs here and there, but they are so few and far between that they never really bothered me.
Fun factor: 10/10 - Because of Bioware's story-focused questing and the outstanding job I think they did with the combat and the multiplayer/flashpoints in the game, I have to say that I have had more fun playing SWTOR over the last few months than any other MMO in recent years. Plus, this game feels a LOT like my favorite RPG of all time - KOTOR. I really think they have a winner on their hands here.