The Dorkside - An Honest Review
One of the best things about being a humorist is that I get to be completely honest. Well, that and the throng of sex starved, supermodel groupies that flock to you as soon as you're paid to tell poop jokes on the internet, but it's mostly that honesty thing.
You see, I don't have to follow the rules and guidelines that bog down the other contributors. Where they have to focus on petty things like "facts" and "research" and "professional conduct", I get to cut through all the politics and bullsh*t in order to bring you the truth.
I'm kind of a hero in that regard.
So after countless several minutes scouring the internet in the one browser tab that wasn't dedicated to my base and primitive need to see naked people doing naked things, I decided that it was time for an unbiased review of Star Wars: The Old Republic.
The reviews I've seen always seem prefabricated, or biased in the fact that they unfairly lean towards one side or the other in attempt to gain readership or appease sponsors. Me? I simply don't care enough to lie. Besides, if I poke the bear a little too much and the people who pay me get mad, I can always claim that it was all just a joke.
Star Wars: The Old Republic - STRENGTHS
Storyline and Dialogue
I have never been this captivated with a storyline in an MMORPG in my life. The writing and voice acting are phenomenal, the dialogue is natural, and you’ll find yourself actually anticipating the next quest just to see where the story is going…
…or what your next snarky comment option is going to be.
Group dynamics allow four people of different personalities to work together realistically, and whoever wins the interaction role determines the path of the conversation. These choices can literally alter the quest line from what you’re hoping or expecting to happen, to something that you cannot fully control.
I find myself on the edge of my seat whenever I’m in a group, forced to watch the story unfold rather than knowing its outcome. That lack of total control gives the game a realistic quality that I’ve never seen successfully captured in an MMORPG. You never really know f you’re going to save the crew from destruction or if one of your group mates is about to suck them out of an airlock into the open vastness of space.
The fate of your group and the course you take in the storyline is determined by all, not just one. Just pray that the person who wins isn’t working towards a red lightsaber.
Your companions interact with you, have their own personalities and storylines, and contribute to the “single player” feel, of the game without taking away from the multiplayer aspects. They have their own tool bars, habits, preferences and are actually useful in combat.
Rarely do they go all “Spevak” like the crew members in Star Trek Online and agro every mob on the planet’s surface. They’re engaging, and a real influence beyond what you would expect. Instead of seeming like an NPC or an extra bit of damage from a “spell” on your toolbar, they act and feel like another player.
When you don’t do something evil for giggles because T7, your loyal and fanboy follower would be broken hearted? You know that the game has pulled you in.
Solo missions, group missions, storyline driven private instances, space combat and customizable companions – the game really does have it all. Sure, it implements the “tool bar” style of every other MMORPG out there, but it does so in such a way that you’re not overly aware that you’re using them during combat.
The graphics are decent, and while I’ve heard the wailing sobs of “no high res as promised” and “high res is broken” from the forums, the graphics that are in place are decent enough that it doesn’t affect or take away from game play in the least.
And the storylines are phenomenal, even if the Sith corruption that comes with choosing the “dark” options looks less like the influence of evil, and more like weird space eye herpes.
Star Wars: The Old Republic - WEAKNESSES
See? Totally fair, because not only does this game have its share of flaws - but I'm going to point them out and make fun of them (ED: That is not what my ass-clenching face looks like...).
I hate starting out with "space combat" in the weakness category, because I honestly enjoy it. You navigate your ship on a linear track through space debris and asteroid fields all the while exchanging laser fire with enemy fighters and ships. You have to dodge asteroids, avoid collisions with large chunks of what appear to be improperly disposed of space refrigerators, and occasional escort the galaxy's most suicidal pilot to a safe destination.
It's a lot of fun…
…the first 30 times that you do the exact same mission. Then it tends to get a little tedious and you start creating your own little player made missions of "how close to exploding can I get this f**ker who won't STAY AWAY FROM THE GODDAMN TURRETS without failing the escort quest." If they don't add more of these missions, or some random element to them that keeps them from being literally the same instance every time, no one is going to be bothering with them three months from now.
Plus? They really need to let you name your ship, or have an alternate ship appearance like they do your companions. Captain Canis of the Washburn needs him some flame decals and an “I brake for nobody” bumper sticker.
Scale and Transportation
Planets don’t have to be the size of actual planets. I get that Tattooine is a vast expanse of wasteland and womprat droppings, but at times it feels absolutely *too* big. Moses didn’t spend this much friggin’ time in the desert.
The first few times you have to travel on foot, or by the welfare speeder mount that you obtain during your early levels, it isn’t too bad. You get to see new worlds, encounter creatures and other players, and it helps the zone actually feel like it is bigger than your average MMORPG instance.
The fourth or fifth time you have to hoof it through the same massive expanse of land in order to get back to the quest giver and turn in your 10 womprats? (See what I did there? SEE?) Frustration begins to overcome you and you get antsy for a new character just so that you can get a change of scenery.
As for the “Taxi” service; why am I paying for a taxi that I have to drive, and why can’t I go to destinations that I haven’t discovered? You can synthesize food and develop a true artificial intelligence in the form of an android life form, but no one has invented a GPS yet?
The F**ing Market U.I.
I'm in no way, shape or form a U.I. snob. I never use add-ons, change my display, or over-customize how my User Interface actually works or looks. That being said:
The Global Trade U.I. is borked.
From broken search functions, cumbersome controls, and your companion showing up out of nowhere and kicking you out of the interface so that he can tell you that he failed a friggin' 3000 credit crafting mission…
…the market U.I. is one of those rare things in a video game that truly frustrates me to the point of not wanting to play. Selling gear and materials has gotten to be such a chore, that I usually put it off until my cargo bays are literally bursting at the seams.
Oh, while we’re at it? We don't need the "you're going to get money, just not right now" e-mail to tell us that we sold something, every time we sell something. It's more annoying than chat spamming everyone in the general channel whenever you try to split a stack of gems.
Fix this. Fix it now, or I will drive to George Lucas' house, take a number, and get in the very long line of people waiting to stalk him.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is just plain fun.
Ignoring the bugs and glitches that plague all new releases, and the peanut gallery cries of "there's no endgame” six weeks after a game is released, there really isn’t a lot to say negative about the game at this point.
Yes, the endgame is admittedly lacking, but that’s based mostly on the fact that the majority of players haven’t had the time to reach it yet. Playing 20 hours a day, every day, to reach max level while skipping past every cut scene and scripted event to get to the fight might make you hit cap faster than anyone else ; but is that three seconds of “awe” from your friends worth the experience that you’re robbing yourself of?
This game is so story driven, and puts you in the spotlight to such a degree that it is no longer about the destination – you’re supposed to be enjoying the journey. And if that isn’t a good enough reason to slow down and stop to smell the roses…consider this: My level 33 smuggler has nailed five NPC’s so far.
And he doesn’t even have the Sith corruption herpes. Well…not on his face.