Mat Langford’s Gaming World: The Old Republic Impresses…My First Thoughts.

Awesome.
Awesome.

My wait is over.

At one point, as some of you already know through my earlier articles,  I was a hardcore World of Warcraft player. When it first came out, it encompassed everything that a good MMORPG should be. But as time passed, the game became more and more suited to those that had 26 extra hours in the day, and slowly crept away from the grasp of the casual gamer.

So when I heard that Star Wars: The Old Republic would be tailored more to the casual gamer as well as the hardcore, with the classes and specs being tailored for both types, I got excited. Being developed by BioWare, the maker of games such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age, didn’t hurt either. Perhaps this was the game that would capture the casual to semi-hardcore audience that Warcraft had all but alienated.

I’m one of the lucky ones that gained early access through pre-ordering The Old Republic, and I got down to business Friday night. It is impressive and here’s why.

I’m a stickler for the details. Warcraft battles allow you to essentially watch your characters go through a series of set animations as you select spells and attacks, giving the whole fight engine a certain robotic quality.

While the same is true for the Old Republic, the swords and lightsabers actually hit each other! Duels look like duels, while parries and thrusts actually look like parries and thrusts during the combat sequences. The animations are great, and the force powers look awesome as you freeze a guy in his tracks with bolts of lightning from your fingertips.
On a plus side as well, the characters actually look like real people this time around. With the textures and skins almost too good looking for an MMORPG, I can sense that – when I get to the upper level combat areas, where there are 20-30+ people battling at the same time – the frame rates will drop drastically on even a decent rig (assuming you’re running everything on High).
The cut scenes are all voice acted. They are done pretty well too. Quests no longer feel as mundane as they used to when you have someone with emotion and feeling in their voice when they congratulate you on completing them. The quests also have multiple choice answers, earning you light and darkside points for either. This is a staple in many BioWare products, and works even better here because it adds a group dynamic to the whole idea. If you’re in an instance, and it comes time to answer a question or decide the fate of an NPC, you may not be the one to get to do it, thus entrusting your fate to another player. I’ve run and completed the first instance, Black Talon, and the dynamic works really well.
Finally, The Old Republic brings a more casual dynamic to the MMORPG universe, with a focus on story-driven leveling, that allows the casual gamer to level at their on pace. There’s even a companion system, that allows players to have a secondary character fight alongside them for the extra help. The multiplayer option is still quite strong and will arguably play the most important part in this game after players have hit the level cap.
However, where Warcraft puts the emphasis on getting through the 80 levels so that you can access the premium end-game content, The Old Republic seems – at least at this point – to be focused on giving the player more bang for their buck in terms of fun and exciting, story and character driven leveling.
And so far, I’m having a great time with it.
I’ll have more as I continue to play through it, and I’ll keep you all posted! If you’ve played or are waiting to play this game when it launches today, let us know what your opinions are!
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