Star Wars: The Old Republic

Play your part in yet another galactic war in the Star Wars Universe. Star Wars: The Old Republic(SWTOR) is a story rich Star Wars massively multiplayer online role-playing game(MMORPG). It’s all about you and yet you can call on buddies to help you fight the dark/light side.

Release Date

December 2011.

Pros

It is Star Wars.

There is plenty of variety. First of, there are two sides, four classes per side with room to further subclass at higher levels and each subclass has lots of skills to upgrade. There are plenty of quests, enemies, NPCs and the staple of any good RPG, loot.

It is a very large and open role-playing game.

Each class has its own storyline which begins with a long high quality introduction cutscene. Then the story is progressed with quests and conversations with NPCs. From the little bit I have played, I have to say the story is Star Wars excellent.

The quests system is very well done. A part from the main storyline quests, there are tons of side quests and also super difficult heroic quests that pretty much require a group to work together to complete. The storyline quests can also be completed in a group, but I do not know who’s story it progresses or whether it gives the completion status to all involved.

My Logitech G35 detected surround sound from SWTOR, but it sounded very much stereo. I did not hear any surround effects at all. Having said that, all the sounds, speech and music do sound Star Wars good.

When your character reaches level 10, you can enter player versus player(PvP) warzones. This section does not seem to be related to the main game other than you can bring your character in to fight. The warzone plays similar to first-person shooters in that you are on a map and have objectives to complete while whacking as many of the opposition as possible. What is different is that it plays very much like the main RPG part of the game. No need to aim, just click on your target and choose the appropriate action you want your character to take.

The game handles fine with my ping of around 300ms. The long ping does make the game more difficult during the warzone fights, but it is still easier than playing an FPS with 300ms ping.

SWTOR’s game engine is quite clever in that the control mechanics makes it play like an RPG, but the flow and good animations makes it look like an action game. A Star Wars action game at that!

The graphics look excellent. Everything is well detailed and well animated. The battles look very much like Star Wars battles. Maybe, it’s just me, but I do not think SWTOR graphics on this newer PC are as good as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl on my older PC. SWTOR looks better than every other game I played to date, just not S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

You can get companions that are kind of a cross between the pet in Torchlight and people that join you in Baldur’s Gate. Like the Torchlight pet, you can send your companion to sell all useless loot and you can also equip your companion with new stuff. Like Baldur’s Gate people, they will converse with you now and then, but I am not sure if it has any bearing on the main story. Your companion can also be sent on missions where they get stuff for you. I actually do not know what to do with all the stuff they bring back from missions. Probably have to play deeper into the game to find out.

Cons

The size of the download is 27GB. This download must be done with their custom game client launcher. The usual download speed I get from the web is around 700KB/s, but with their custom client launcher, half the time it would only download at 100KB/s. So it was a very long wait before I could start the game.

There is a lot of walking to be done. This is normal for such a big open world, but it gets quite boring after you have walked the same path many times. There are quick travel points and taxis to take you between places but not enough in my opinion. After playing this, I am so grateful for Oblivion’s many quick travel points, which is pretty much every where.

The music is Star Wars-ish and is there, but does not sound so impacting. They play depending on what events are happening but it just does not give the big Star Wars feel like say Empire at War.

Other Points

The online account security is quite heavy. Not only is there a password, but sometimes you must answer security questions on login as well. There is also some sort of optional physical security key thingy. I am not sure if this is the norm for MMORPGs since this is the first one I have tried.

The game’s interface needs a bit of learning, but once you know what there is and what can be done, it is actually quite easy to use. The complexity is due to the amount things that you can do in the game.

The difficulty of the quests and for getting from place to place is done not just by the level of the enemies but also by them respawning pretty quickly. So you cannot just take your time to pick them off as the old ones will come back.

I usually never mention the cost of a game because some places are cheaper than others. I will say this about SWTOR, you must buy the game then you must pay a subscription fee to keep playing past 30 days. I guess this is the same with most paid MMORPGs.

There are many choices to be made in the game. I see indicators that I am leaning towards the dark/light side. Other than changing a little bit of the story and quests, I have not witnessed any ground-breaking events. Or maybe it is because I have not played the same character and pick different choices.

There is now a free-to-play option with limitations. Having not paid to play the game, I do not know how much these limitations affect the game playing. The website does say the full class story content is available though.

Biases

Reviewed friend’s 7-day free trial version.

I briefly tried out the Smuggler class and the Jedi Knight class but focused mainly on the Imperial Agent class.

I missed out on trying the space battles and visting areas where you can attack and be attacked by random players.

I have played many RPGs before, but this is the first MMORPG I have tried.

I really liked Torchlight, Oblivion and Baldur’s Gate 1, 2 plus expansions.

I also liked Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, Lands of Lore 3, Might and Magic 3, 4 and 5.

I did not like Styrateg.

DRM

Being an MMORPG, I am guessing online validation and code entries are the very minimum for DRM checks.

Minimum Requirements (as stated on Buy Star Wars: The Old Republic)

  • Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core 4000+ or better or Intel Core 2 Duo Processor 2.0GHz or better
  • Operating System: Windows XP/Vista/7
  • RAM:
    • Windows XP: 1.5GB
    • Windows Vista and Windows 7: 2GB
    • PCs using a built-in graphical chipset are receommended to have 2GB RAM
  • Graphics Card:
    • ATI X1800 or better*
    • nVidia 7800 or better*
    • Intel 4100 Integrated Graphics or better*
    • *Minimum of 256MB of on-board RAM and Shader 3.0 or better support
  • DVD-ROM: 8x or better

Computer Played On

  • Windows 7 64 bit.
  • Intel Core i5 2.3GHz
  • 4Gb RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M 1Gb RAM
  • Conexant SmartAudio with egg speakers or earphones. Or Logitech G35.
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

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