A title that did not disappoint - Star Wars: The Old Republic review

Date: 2012-01-03 10:06:00
The review was based on the PC version.

I decided to approach the review of The Old Republic unconventionally and start hard, and explain myself later. The latest BioWare production is delicious and there is no point in playing with generalities and stalks. The developer did not create new classifications, there was no question of the title of the next generation or breaking with the hackneyed and rigid rules of the game. The creators made a solid, classic MMO. They chose the best of the other titles and then enriched it with their considerable experience in producing role-playing games. Something phenomenal has come out of this combination, an amazing hybrid of a rich adventure for a lone user with a world full of hundreds of living people. It is not difficult to notice that I am absolutely delighted with this game, which does not change the fact that I looked at it extremely carefully, catching both those things that are undeniable advantages and those that still need to be worked on.

The answer to the first part of the question above is simple. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Star Wars with its characteristic music and sound effects, and the series of movies has successfully pushed these sounds into our heads. The creators did not play with any experiments, both the melodies and the sounds of blasters, flickering lightsabers or the background are an exact copy of what we know from the movies. They create the right atmosphere and never for a moment raise any doubts as to what universe we just ended up in. So it is as it should be - what we hear does not distract us, but builds the atmosphere of fun well.

However, when it comes to the visuals, opinions are divided, and I'm not going to discuss tastes. Nevertheless, the graphics show the game world well, and the animations successfully match the combat mechanics, and the engine is stable, fast and does not require the use of space computers. The dialogs use better quality textures than those of normal gameplay, making Star Wars: The Old Republic look decent from up close and far away.

The game technology is a bit complicated, and even a bit controversial. Developers decided to instantiate planets - what does that mean? Well, each planet is a separate, closed area. This is understandable for many reasons, and there is no reason to question the idea. The aforementioned controversy may be aroused by the fact that up to 200 people can stay on one planet at a time, and if we get close to this value, the system creates another version of the planet and places more players there. The chat and the possibility of grouping remain common (then the participants of the game are transferred to the same instance - the version of the planet). Such a solution may disturb a bit of immersion, especially for people who are used to huge worlds where everyone is in exactly the same place. On the other hand, I see its advantages because it eliminates overpopulation. It should be remembered that during the premieres of MMO games or the publications of add-ons, the starting areas resemble canned goods full of unfortunate sardines, in TOR this situation does not occur, and if it does - then to a minimal extent. I do not know whether this solution was forced by technology or common sense, but for me - a good idea and it is quite a bold move. Especially when you take into account the fact that MMO fans are a very capricious group.

In order not to go into detail unnecessarily, let me say briefly that the script is written well, with sense, provides entertainment, twists, surprises, joys and sorrows. All classes have their own unique storyline, prompting you to create each of the eight characters and thoroughly test their adventures. The high quality of the story disarms the competition and leaves it light years behind. Side-quests can be equally interesting, but they are already common to all classes (within one faction) and do not arouse much emotions when you play them again. However, also in this case there is always a new quality, our hero, depending on the class and gender, has his own characteristic behavior, the way of constructing sentences and the tone of speech. There is also the reaction of comrades, each class consists of five different companions and five different personalities. So, even in repetitive missions, there are small surprises.

An experienced TOR MMO player will feel at home, which is good, but can also lead to monotony. The most commonly known system is used in the game - we select the opponent and then select the skills that we will use during the confrontation. It is necessary to answer the question what this mechanism has been enriched with and what is still missing here. The advantages undoubtedly include a good combat animation. When it comes to static duels with computer enemies, the developers did everything they could. The battles are attractive as much as the mechanics allow. Hand-to-hand combat, the ability to attract and repel opponents, explosions, stun skills, flames and such attractions make a particularly good impression. Opponents behave according to the circumstances. They fall when they need to, they burn when they fall, and they try to free themselves of the contact grenades at all costs. Another plus is computer allies on the battlefield. Cooperation with companions is very fluid, you can use their skills to complement your own. This aspect is especially visible in the later stages of the game, when we have several companions and we can choose them to get the perfect duo on the battlefield.

However, the applied system did not avoid a few disadvantages. First of all - we have a small relationship between skills, there is little so-called reactive skills (these are those that can be activated in specific circumstances, for example, when the opponent is stunned or slowed down). However, this inconvenience can be easily explained by the need to maintain the balance between the characters. Reactive skills can shake this up, so it is likely that the developers decided not to experiment in this field yet. Of course, there are such skills, but - as I mentioned - there are few of them, and sometimes it is extremely difficult to notice that they become active and easy to forget about them.

Not everything works as it should when using allies' skills. Artificial intelligence is quite efficient, but if someone would like to use the abovementioned abilities himself, he has a strenuous task ahead of him. Unfortunately, you cannot change the keyboard shortcuts assigned to your companions' skills. In theory, it is possible, but in practice, hiding the companion's skill bar turns off the new shortcuts, so you have to stay with the inconvenient standard or disturb the interface with an additional skill bar.

The last drawback is the huge amount of abilities and the lack of tools to facilitate their management. So far, no macro system has been introduced (which may change over time, of course) to reduce the amount of space required on toolbars. Besides, the use of macros is often quite controversial, so the lack of them can hardly be considered a disadvantage of the game. However, I believe that the lack of this system is due to the need to simplify certain aspects of the game in the premiere period, rather than the desire to level the playing field for those players who cannot use macros.

I must admit that the one proposed by the developers looks very good, is readable, provides the most important information and does not interfere with the fun. It is also important that all values, such as damage or healing, are constantly updated on the skill bars. This is a big plus, especially since the competition is still unable to successfully implement this solution.

The downside is the lack of support for modifications (so-called addons). The user interface, whatever it may be, will never be as good as what gamers can design if they are provided with the right tools.

I wouldn't be surprised if a game with such a strong emphasis on the PvP story was treated neglectfully. Fortunately, that didn't happen. I will say more, fighting with other players in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I have a lot of fun. For the purposes of the review, I tried every class and I cannot say that it does not work or is weaker. All of them were thought of wisely and in moderation, and the developers managed to get a pretty decent balance. Of course, the latter is not really possible at some point there will probably be some disproportions between classes, but for such an early stage of the game's functioning, PvP is doing great.

What caught my attention were the very interesting designs of the War Zones (Warzones). Each one is different, ranging from the bloody sport organized by the Hutt cartel, to capturing and defending a spaceship, to the standardized scoring battlefield. Even when there are similarities to other famous MMO titles, BioWare's work is richer in many fields.

In addition to all that I mentioned above, there are also a lot of details, which I will only mention, so as not to enlarge the already extensive text.

Fighting in space. Not a particularly complicated, entertaining mini-game, during which we see the ship in front of us and shoot all enemies that wind up in front of the C-profile. Some will say it's silly, I think it's a great break from typical MMO activities, which offers a lot of fun, new missions, additional experience points and another aspect of character development. In this case, we can improve our ship and buy better equipment, and this also extends the range of crafting activities. While playing, we find plans for new weapons, armor and modifications for space vehicles.