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I have been looking forward to play Star Wars Old Republic (STOR) since the game was release, but could not play it since was subscription based game until now. My experience with MMORPGs has been Asian based games like Flyff, Grand Fantasia, Vindictus, and Mabinogi. STOR will be my first Western MMORPG that I seriously spend time with. My impression is based on the trooper class - levels 1 to 11.
The game installation is straight forward. You go the STOR website, sign up and download the installation client.
There is one note I would make with the installation client: it consist of two parts: 1GB starter files and a 15 GB main game files. Initially when I saw that the installation was only 1 GB, I thought the installation process would be quick. I was a little dismay when I saw that the starter files finished downloading, the installer started downloading the rest of the 15 GB game! Needless to say, I when to bed while I let my computer download the game files.
One improvement that I suggest is Bioware/EA make is to release the client as a torrent download. That way the game would be easier to install a new or a different computer instead of downloading the large files all over again.
Character Creation: 6/10
With the F2P option there is a limitation on the number of races you can choose. That limitation did not bother me that much because I already had in mind which race and class I wanted to choose human female trooper. You create your character based on preset templates of hair type, body type, hair colour, eye colour etc. STOR character creator is not as bad as limiting as some of the Asian MMORPGs I have encountered, but STOR character creator is not that great as well. It would have been since if STOR had scale sliders like in Phantasy Star Online that gives more detail customization.
Storytelling is one of the strong points for STOR. Bioware has crafted a very engaging storyline that I found myself moving to the next level just to see how the story unfolds. The game feels like you are reading a Star Wars novel. You have a interactive dialogue that allows you three different options on how you interact with the NPC. Typically the response boils down to: Good reply, Neutral reply and bad reply. Your choice in words only affects the outcome of the mission, but not the overall plot of the story.
Given the fact we have high quality graphic effects in MMORPG games like Vindictus and Guild Wars 2; the graphics in STOR are very plain. There are no flashy effects like bloom found in STOR. The STOR models and textures look like they were created over 5 years ago around the same time World of Warcraft (WoW) was created. WoW can get away with lower graphic effects because the game adapted a cartoonier stylized look. I dont think STOR can get away with the same thing. Items that you gain will show up on the character so I found that so I be a nice touch. The positive note is the environmental design in STOR is well done especially when you go to Coruscant you do get a sense it is a large grand city.
I have seen gamers compared to STOR to a WoW clone, but I have other description for STOR it is an Asian grind. The gameplay in STOR consist of getting a quest from an NPC which ask you to kill an X number of baddies. You go out to the field where you see a cluster a mobs just standing around doing nothing. You go and kill the baddies and it feels good doesnt it? Guess what, 5 minutes later the same baddies respawn in the same place defeating any sense of progress. The mobs in STOR are also aggressive as well meaning they will start attacking you if you get too close. I had several instances where I didnt want to fight the mobs but I had no choice because they were blocking the door way I just cleared out 10 minutes ago.
The level progression is steady where you kill off one area of mobs and you go on the next area where the mobs are just a little more powerful. Overall there are no mobs that werent too hard to handle except on a few missions. There is one is mission as a trooper I had a very difficult time dealing with. In the mission The Separatists' Stronghold, there was a green room where you had to use data spike on Separatists' comm console. I was taken back on how difficult the mobs were in the room. I had to die at least over 50 times in the room before I was able to complete it.
Speaking about death, there is no harsh penalty for dying in the game. In the game you get a medic droid that can revive you on the spot (up to level 10) or you are revived in a medical area usually several rooms away.
One advantage I like about the game play is the use of companions that can help you in the game to kill enemies or gather items.
For the most of the game I played solo. There was nobody to team up with or chat to in the game. Other than having my companion it was a lonely experience playing the game. There was a general chat window, but there was no way to directly speak with somebody. The world feels static. The community doesnt feel alive.
Another downside is where are all the events? Other MMORPGs have Halloween and Christmas events. With the launch of Star Wars F2P in November, I expected a big promotional event like a free F2P special item. Granted Christmas doesnt fit in the Star Wars universe, but the GM can always make up an event. It already happened with Light Day in the Star Wars Christmas Special.
The good news is I have not seen any good farmers or automatic bots found in Asian MMORPGS yet.
Overall STOR is a single player RPG with MMORPG elements. Depending what you are expecting your experience with STOR will vary.
If you have going after the single player experience STOR has something to offer for you. The storyline is wonderful and it is the only element saving STOR from being a complete waste.
If you hare looking for a multiplayer community, its a little disappointing. Unless EA/Bioware makes the community more interactive, I do not think I will play STOR in the long-term.
- Strong storyline
- Average grinding gameplay
- Lackluster community and events
Overall Score: 6/10 (Good Story, Average Gameplay)