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Star Wars Galaxies: Five Year Re-Review

StraddenStradden Managing EditorMember CommonPosts: 6,696's Jef Reahard writes this re-review of SOE's Star Wars Galaxies. Using our new review system, Reahard has kept the controversey of the game's past in mind while focusing his review on the game as it stands today.

Perhaps no game in the short history of MMORPGs has generated as much controversy as Star Wars Galaxies. Since the title's debut in June of 2003, it has constantly evolved (even more so than is normal for this notoriously fickle genre), going through two combat engine changes and three development teams, as well as quite a lot of player turnover. While it’s tempting to offer up yet another summary of where the game went wrong, and how great it used to be (through those rose-colored collector's edition goggles, no doubt), this re-review will instead attempt to approach the title with a fresh perspective, ostensibly that of someone playing the game for the first time (an admittedly tall order for a launch day/beta veteran, so bear with me). Say what you will about Galaxies' meandering path to its present incarnation, but what you can't say is that there is a deeper game on the market, as it consistently accommodates a range of play styles by offering diverse options that the 'give me pew pew or give me death' mentality of the rest of the industry chooses to ignore.

Read the review here.

Jon Wood
Managing Editor



  • azgarthazgarth Member UncommonPosts: 188

    Nice review

    It's good that you go back to the games from time to time, with the new contents most have today, it's good to keep the reviews up to date.

    Not sure it isn't a little overrated though ;)

  • OzmodanOzmodan Member EpicPosts: 9,579

    Well first off, let's get one thing clear here, the game is no longer a sandbox.  The elements that defined it as a sandbox were removed when they introduced the NGE patch.  You cannot discuss SWG without at least mentioning what was changed in the NGE patch.  Essentially, the two most important things that were changed. 

    One, they converted from a skill based character system to a class based one.  You used to be able to change your skillset if you so desired.  Now once a medic, always a medic.  When they did the conversion, most top level characters immediately became mid level characters.  As an example my creature master with top end skills, became a level 45 medic.  High end crafters that were essential to the game pre-NGE became fluff after the change.

    Secondly, the original game had the best crafting system in the genre, bar none.  The NGE change reduced that drastically by removing item degradation and introducing high end loot much better than you can craft.  Without items degrading and the new loot drops the market for new crafted  items dried up.  The crafters went from being the richest in the game to being the poorest.

    Granted that is all past history.  The game has to stand as it is today.  Most of the servers are pretty much ghost towns now.  There are a few active servers and new players should find out which ones they are and choose to play on them.  Avoid the empty ones, no sense playing on a server with no one to play with.  

    Me, I loved the sandbox aspects of the pre-NGE game and although I have tried many times to go back and play this game it is just a shadow of it's old self.   The role-play city I once lived in is gone, the role players have all left.   While I tried the new Beastmaster class, there is a huge grind ahead to actually use the creatures still in my inventory and with literally no one on starsider any more, it is just too hard to do it.

  • DeeweDeewe Member UncommonPosts: 1,980

    Nice review, even I think there are a few key elements that are missing :

    1) Empty servers.

    Apart one or maybe two servers rests are empty. They should merge the servers and allow free character transfers for the "vets"

    2) Pseudo FPS combat system.

    Doesn't work as there is no 3d movement, no collision detection, no aiming. Even it feels weird as you can't "miss" your opponent.

    3) Lack of socialization

    CU and NGE removing the need to go to a med center and a cantina killed the players interaction.

    4) Classes (for vets)

    SWG is no where anymore near the sandbox it was. You can't anymore choose who you are and what kind of character you want to play.

    5) Crafting (for vets)

    For a newcomer it's good, regarding others MMO. For a vet it's a huge draw back. At a time a dedicated crafter made a real difference in the items being made, not anymore.

    6) Lack of content

    Five years later and well the content is at 90% the same it was after the last expansion.

    7) Lack of PVE AI

    Well the difference between mobs is about only the low or insane amount of HP. Don't look for tactics, interesting mechanics, behavior...

    8) Space system worse than X-wing

    It is just a bad copy of Origin WC system, no way as good as X-Wing series. Bad UI, poor flight dynamics, low ship energy management. You can do most combats staying in the same position only rotating your ship.

    9) Players cities = mess

    As you can't level the ground and there are many objects that doesn't let you to build on top of them. No roads, no streets, no grass, no walls, no fences... so 99% of the cities looks like a messy gathering of non matching structures. And they are mostly ghost towns.

    10) FUN, SW feeling?

    I can say I had much more fun and StarWarsy feeling playing Battlefield and Kotor.

    Battlefield has a working combat system and in Kotor you feel like you're in SW world


  • DemothDemoth Member Posts: 1

    SWG used to be good, but due to each development team wanting to go another direction, the game has suffered greatly. Only thing left to do is wait for KoTOR Online.

    Dont bother disagreeing with me, I'm always right.

  • androideandroide Member Posts: 1

    Greetings everyone...

    I played SWG for over 2 years, at least until the first C.U. was launched.

    There's not much to say about this, imo SOE and SWG lost a lot of "clients" when the CU was launched. Most of the ppl playing SWG loved the gameplay, crafting and all the boring Grinding hours.

    I still remember the fun that was farming Imperial bases for the reputation points, striking over Imperial Cities, doing some Corvettes, checking all the POI's for badges, trying all the proffs and choosing one to be main and other to complement...omg that was fun...1 day you were Teras Kasi and on the next day you were grinding over Rifleman or even had 100% liberty on choosing your "class".

    Those were the good old days of SWG making it an unique MMO were the Player choose whatever he decided to do without regreting the class chosen a few months later...and if u ever get bored just change it for crafting or even Musician / Dancer...

    Those were great times and now it's just memories that you wanna keep from a nice MMO that once was "The MMO" for me.


  • JYCowboyJYCowboy Member UncommonPosts: 652

    Very good and fair review,

    I thought there should have been more explaination about Restuus.  There are rewards there though mudflation has effected thier usefulness and its the center of PVP action for a given server.

    Collection System should have been better featured as its now a main focus for reward.

    All in all, good job.

    Now lets see if Lucas Arts will advertise again.

  • SoupgoblinSoupgoblin Member Posts: 324

    The sanbox is gone (other than the huge sandbox called Tatooine )

    Many of the features that made galaxies a unique game have been thrown out the window, there are very few entertainer groups, so no huge bands playing in the cantinas roleplaying and socializing. Crafters got the shaft and the class has never recovered, medics are still needed but not on the same scale they once were

    Most cities are empty, the static cities are empty because no one needs them, and player cities since there are only a handfull of players on most servers (and most of those are bots), this is a galaxy wide ghost town. When you do see a player, half the time it is a Jedi showing off.

    Sure, there was a few problems with the game pre-CU and NGE, but those problems were repairable, but there isn't a fix for the reputation  the game now has, once the developers chose the path of ignoring their customers and pushing a completely unwanted gameplay experience on them they lost the battle, no matter how many trading card games they program in...

    I cancelled 3 days after the CU, I also joined MMORPG the same day, and it is unlikely that I will try another SOE game even though I have had an account with them since 1999

  • TerranahTerranah Member UncommonPosts: 3,575

    This game was good and had the potential to be great, but through deciept and greed was reduced to the lowly state in which it currently exists.


    There are still some good things about SWG as the author of the review notes, but all the bad things outweigh those.  At one time I might have had the energy to enumerate all of the things wrong with this game.  But I no longer have the energy to do so. 


    The only lesson I take away from SWG is that SOE is an unethical company not to be trusted.  Smed loves free to play with microtransaction.  I say, let it be so, and let SOE continue their decline to the point of complete irrelevance.  Other companies have and will continue to fill the vacuum they leave behind.

  • GindaccaGindacca Member Posts: 55

     The author of this article did two things that you guys commenting seem to be ignoring...

    !.  He said he's an old veteran of SWG.

      (point being that he knows all the things about the game's past that you're bringing up)

    2.  He said that he's going to try to review the game from the viewpoint of someone new to the game.  It's meant to be a review of the game as it currently stands, not a rant/review of what once was compared to what we have now.


    I'm a vet too.  I started playing shortly before the first CU, but I watched my brother play for a few months before that (he started playing before they gave new characters X-34 Landspeeders, so he had to run everywhere before he had enough credits to buy a speeder bike!!!  ^^)

    Once I started playing my Wookiee on Chimaera (I'm in the US, but somehow started playing on a Euro server) I quickly became an addict.  My brother and I both played as much as we could grinding our melee combat toons.  We both eventually unlocked Jedi via the village grind (me, just a month or so before the NGE hit)


    The real purpose for my response is my two points above and to correct some of what other comments claim...

    One poster above says that there is now no need to visit medical centers or cantinas.  While it's true that we no longer accrue wounds which require healing in med-centers, on both Chimaera and Bloodfin where I currently play, it's almost always a necessity to visit the Cantina in Mos Eisley for Entertainer Inspiration "buffs".  Back in the day, cantina's in player cities such as Hispania on the Chimaera server were popular for aspiring padawans to get entertainer buffs before parties would go out to grind on Bol spawns.  On Corbantis (where I no longer play) I remember that THE cantina to visit for buffs was in Theed.  That seems simply to have changed to Mos Eisley for most now.  There are plenty of AFK ent grinders there, and some people try to set up ent buff-bots, but for the most part, entertainers are live and well in Mos Eisley.  So feel free to get your socializing on there, but don't forget to leave your droids outside.

    Another poster stated something like "once a medic, always a medic"'s true that we can no longer simply drop skils, then regrind XP and pick new, and often completely different skills to change or professions or the focus of our professions.  But what the poster seems to forget or neglect is the profession counselors outside of the Starports at Mos Eisley and Coronet.  I forget what the limit is on how many times one can change their profession for free, but each player is allowed to change enough times to test out different professions completely.  When doing this, a player talks to the NPC and can chose to reset their Expertise points (to change the focus of their current profession) of they can choose to change their profession completely.  Even after the free resets are used up, a player can still pay to change.

    In addition to the Profession Counselor NPC, veterans were given a tool that's good for 10 free resets (I still have mine on all my vet toons), there is a vet reward that one can choose which reduces the cost of a reset if one should find oneself needing to pay, and although I can't confirm it, I have heard that former Anti-decay kits were converted to profession reset tools following the NGE.

    So there are quite a few ways to "respec" your character's profession, and I know a lot of people that change almost every other day.


    I'll cut this post short there, but I want to close saying that I loved the game as it was pre-NGE.  I too, am bitter about changes that I feel degraded the game, but I still like the game a lot and I'm still addicted to it today.

    **Returned SWG player**
    IGN: Gindacca, RACE: Wookiee
    OLD GUILD: [cCc] (aka: BOC)
    PROF: Light Jedi (elder)
    (pre-NGE PROF: TKM/Master Swordsman)
    SERVER: Chimaera (Euro)

  • Wharg0ulWharg0ul Member Posts: 4,183

    Good review.

    And it helped to remind me why I still play Pre-CU SWG, instead of SOE's watered-down grind-fest.


  • JestorRodoJestorRodo Member UncommonPosts: 2,642

     To the author , an excellent review - It sort of takes the wind out of the sails of the SOE Devs and Fanbois pretending that this is the fifth anniversary of the game they are currently playing. Better that they celebrate the Anniversary of the NGE Edition. 

    What this truly is is the Fifth year memorial of the PreCU . /salute.

    Unaware of the Jestor?

    Friends enjoy his classic Vblog -

  • SuvrocSuvroc Member Posts: 2,383

    A fair review I thought.

    As I've said before the best this game can be is mediocre. It's lost it's relevancy in this market by turning into just another level/loot MMO.

    It's become a disposable product rather then a vibrant online community it once was.

  • DraccanDraccan Member Posts: 1,050


    You were something special in your young budding years!


    CASUAL CONFESSIONS - Draccan's blog

  • AsiakAsiak Member Posts: 118

    A good review that is correct on many points.  Yes it has gone to far away from Star Wars lore and yes it is to much of a grindfest. 

    But the assumption by some posters that there is no sandbox left in this game is incorrect.  Yes your right its not the complex and unique skill based system anymore, that I wish it still was.   Yes they butchered a robust skill system into 9 un-unique cookie cutter classes.  But the fact is this game is still a sandbox because for around 3 years, starting roughly a month before the NGE,  I was a crafter and a pilot and nothing else.  

    I tried combat before and after the NGE and hated both.  The combat pre-NGE was to slow for my tastes I found it rather lacking in excitment and slightly boring.   It just wasn't fulfilling or entertaining for me to hit special after special go make a sandwich and then come back to see how I did.   And I hated the post NGE combat to I found it slightly less boring then before but way more repetitive it was basically clicking the mouse over and over again.  Deewe was correct in his statement that it was pseudo FPS combat.

    I hated the combat and this drove me to crafting and space.  For three years I crafted, harvested, surveyed, reverse engineered, sold things,  socialized, hung out at the cantina, helped newbs.  For three years I woke up on most mornings got some coffee checked on my extractors and sat down to craft what orders I had.  I built starships, I built an entire city for my guild and friends to live in.  

    Star Wars Galaxies let me do what I wanted to do and I haven't been able to say that about an MMO since.   


    "What is it that the gamers want from these games and why is it not given to them? We were playing these games ourselves, that's why we know it was not being done. So we moved in the opposite direction. We thought about what the users wanted, what we wanted, and why it wasn't happening and how it could happen." - Tasos Flambouras

  • TeranHawkinsTeranHawkins Member Posts: 279

     Sorry, cant give this game more than a 2 for graphics and sound only.  Everything else in this game was broke with the NGE.  LONG LIVE THE PRE-CU DAYS!!!!

  • StarDaggerStarDagger Member Posts: 135



    I slaute the editor for re-reviewing this.  Not an easy decision I am sure.

    I have mentioned my feelings in the two threads going now, so I won't repeat myself other than to say it is time for SWG to be shut down and something that is Star Wars erected in its place.

    Watch the movies one weekend and then play a similar number of hours of SWG, you will see the difference.

    SWG is star wars flavored, but is NOT Star Wars.

    Here is to hoping that someday one of the best sci-fi licenses will have an MMO worthy of its proud heritage.


    Yours in Jedi Plasma,


  • wolfmannwolfmann Member Posts: 1,159

    I love this part:


    In the end, Star Wars Galaxies will probably never overcome the stigma of its radical re-stylings, and it doesn't help its own case by departing so completely from its source material in many aspects of design and implementation. That said, the game itself remains one of, if not the, most unique endeavors in the short history of the MMORPG genre, and would do well to invest a bit of marketing effort in promoting itself as a thinking man's game rather than a clone of the combat-only orgies that are being churned out by virtually every development studio in the business. With deep customization options, unparalleled immersion and roleplay tools, and a PvE game that is built on player interaction and choice, Star Wars Galaxies is currently a decent alternative for those seeking a place to call virtual home, and is worth a look due to an array of unique features that set it apart from the newer, simpler games crowding the market.


    Alll in that last paragraph, bolded one especially are things they tried and in most cases successfully REMOVED from SWG...

    And yet today, the prominent sellable features of SWG, are the remains of what SOE tried to kill from the game.


    Friggin ironic.

    imageThe last of the Trackers

  • todeswulftodeswulf Member Posts: 715

    The thing is SWG always sucked and went from bad to worse despite what Vets or NGE fans say. It never ever ever came anywhere near to a Star Wars expericance.

    Hopefully Bioware will finally give us that.

  • ClattucClattuc Member UncommonPosts: 163

    An interesting re-evaluation.  There seems to be rekindled interest in GALAXIES these days, for two primary reasons.  The first is that the (current) devs have spent about three years undoing some of the horrendous dumbing-down of the NGE, piece by piece and subsystem by subsystem, so that the game is actually starting to reward smart play again.  The second reason is that a lot of the new games turn out to, well, suck - in ways that make GALAXIES look brilliant by comparison.

    The good news for the GALAXIES rescue is that the awful NGE was mostly a cosmetic layer of stupid pasted over the complex innards of the original game.  A lot of things - even much of the skill system - still works "under the hood" as it always did.  The complexity is in there under mothballs.  Even with the straitjacket of "iconic" professions, you can still build a remarkably multifaceted and unique character today.  Variations like the "Combatainer" are gaining in popularity.

    Contrary to the implication of the article, Jump To Lightspeed was always "twitch" and was never substantially modified by the NGE debacle.  It's still fun to play, and still matched by very few other games in what it attempts to do.  (The feisty survivor Vendetta Online may come closest.)  Master Pilot is still a grind, but more mission oriented and less soul deadening than before, and more revamps are promised from a team that actually seems to enjoy delivering on promises.

    There are two major problems.  One is that the game has the lingering stench of living-dead SOE limbo, like Matrix Online - preserved for the sake of the license.  It's hard for veterans to believe it's worth returning, and frankly, if it weren't for JTL, I'm not sure I would.

    The second problem is that 1999 called and wants its graphics back.  The tileset and character models are just plain not up to current standards.  This has the advantage that you can run the game on very weak hardware (or run 3 instances on decent hardware), but it's really unfair to the beautiful mechanics of the game itself.  A hi-res tileset for optional download (like EVE Online did) would breathe years of new life into GALAXIES.

    My advice to veterans would be to pop back in some time, look at the pile of rewards waiting for you :) and the new UI options that reduce some of the insulting NGE crap, and give SWG another try.  It's a refreshing change from OrcSlash Online II.

  • SioBabbleSioBabble Member Posts: 2,803

    The new game is a pathetic attempt at an FPS version of WoW with a Star Wars skin.

    Lucas Arts apparently wanted the game to be Jedi Knight Online or something.  So they insist on the terrible "free targeting"  combat interface as the default.  You can alter it to a more tradiitonal RPG interface by monkeying with settings, which works better than the default, but the combat is still vastly inferior to WoW's.

    The NGE fails on its own merits even without the previous combat systems to compare it with.

    The perpetrators of this mess should be all hurled into the Pit of Carkoon.

    CH, Jedi, Commando, Smuggler, BH, Scout, Doctor, Chef, BE...yeah, lots of SWG time invested.

    Once a denizen of Ahazi

  • ab29xab29x Member Posts: 364

    WTG staff.   You had to re-review SWG and give all the "vets" a reason to repeat their sorry years old whiney stories for the millionth time over. 

    While you're at it, why not bring back Norris jokes.   Listening/reading to them isn't like nails on a chalkboard or anything either.

    If I had one of those ASCII pictures of Picard with his head in his hand I'd put it here.



  • Bob_BlawblawBob_Blawblaw Member Posts: 1,278

    Not a terrible review IMO. Being a 'disgruntled Vet' myself I approached reading it with fear and trepidation, expecting a SWG lovefest paid for by the marketing genius's over at SOE/LA.

    I have to say that the review was pretty fair and brought up many excellent points on the positives and the negatives of the game in it's current incarnation. Two things I'd ad to the review:

    1) as somebody mentioned in an earlier post, a word should be said about the crazy low server populations. I, as a consumer want bang for my buck, and when searching out new MMO's this is one of the first items on my list, and I'm sure I'm not alone.  While many current SWG players will go tooting on about how the populations on the servers (some more than others) are vital and healthy, all one needs to do is boot up a trial and see they are dead wrong. Or they could simply head over to the Oforums and read the hundreds of posts by current players begging for server merges.

    2) While it was mentioned that SWG has gone through a few major overhauls, a little more emphasis should have been given as a cautionary word to those who dare to pick up the game for the first time. They've done it before... over and over... and they reserve the right to do it again. The game that is there now may be fun to some, but the devs are known for taking that away from players. Don't get too attached.

    You've been warned.

    Peace out.

  • brenthbrenth Member UncommonPosts: 293

    to me they have so screwed up this title  that it isnt even on my "go back to" list.

    There were many things wrong to bgin with but the NGE quite simply crushed what few things they had going right.

    it is a themepark  kill/level hell grind

    The space expansion only really had  combat, they totally ignored any possibility to trading or smuggling

    about the only way I might reconsider this title is if they close down the game for 6 months and overhaul the entire game  which this title  is worthy of.


    my recomendation is to  AVOID THIS TITLE at least till sony fixes it,, until then  this title is basicly on SONY life support.

    SONY doesnt care about making a good game as long as there are adicted fanboys willing to fork over the cash for a lackluster uninspired game.

    oh they do have good rainstorm and duststorm effects.

    make a world, not a game, we dont want another game.

  • DragonalfDragonalf Member Posts: 25

    I just started playing SWG "on the side" because of years of curiosity of how bad SWG supposedly was. I'm commenting not so much to agree or disagree with Jef's comments (though I think for the most part he hit the nail on the head from what I've experienced so far), but to comment more on MMORPG's efforts to become a more "full-bodied" MMO site.

    Frankly, if all future reviews (or re-reviews) can be this informative and unbiased, then MMORPG may finally establish itself as the legitimate "voice" of  the MMO community. This re-review and most other recent reviews and re-reviews are starting to show the level of honestly and integrity that I (and I believe most "regular" MMO players) expect to see. I want to hear the straight scoop on a game; I don't want to think that I'm reading a company press release in review form or some fanboi gushing dissertation to the godliness of their MMO of choice or the ranting of some pissed-off  player disguised as a on-line journalist who feels some company/game has ruined their life for the rest of their existence.  Leave the emotion out of it and just report the facts and let the reader decide if the game is for them ... flaws and all. This is what I'm starting to see more from MMORPG.

    Kudos to Jef for an imformative and unbiased re-review and kudos to John Wood and his staff for continuing to turn around this site from being the cesspool of hater (and to a lesser degree fanboi) rants it had become only a few short years ago!

    Keep the revolution coming!


  • BurntvetBurntvet Member RarePosts: 3,465

    In the reviewer's attempt to be "neutral", he totally gives SOE/LA a free pass on everything they have done over the years to make the game "what it is today."

    No mention of the systems removed, the professions deleted,  the "achievements" rendered worthless, the deceptive practices vis-a-vis the release of the NGE/Trials of Obi Wan Epansion and all the rest. You can not just leave that out and expect to have any credibility whatsoever.

    Two things to definely look at side by side that are in direct conflict, as far as complexity, sandbox and the rest:

    From Nancy McIntyre, Senior SWG director at LA on the NGE:

    "We really just needed to make the game a lot more accessible to a much broader player base," said Nancy MacIntyre, the game's senior director at LucasArts. "There was lots of reading, much too much, in the game. There was a lot of wandering around learning about different abilities. We really needed to give people the experience of being Han Solo or Luke Skywalker rather than being Uncle Owen, the moisture farmer. We wanted more instant gratification: kill, get treasure, repeat. We needed to give people more of an opportunity to be a part of what they have seen in the movies rather than something they had created themselves."

    ....She said she expected the game to return to its previous subscriber levels in six months....

    And from the review:

    In the end, Star Wars Galaxies will probably never overcome the stigma of its radical re-stylings, and it doesn't help its own case by departing so completely from its source material in many aspects of design and implementation. That said, the game itself remains one of, if not the, most unique endeavors in the short history of the MMORPG genre, and would do well to invest a bit of marketing effort in promoting itself as a thinking man's game rather than a clone of the combat-only orgies that are being churned out by virtually every development studio in the business. With deep customization options, unparalleled immersion and roleplay tools, and a PvE game that is built on player interaction and choice, Star Wars Galaxies is currently a decent alternative for those seeking a place to call virtual home, and is worth a look due to an array of unique features that set it apart from the newer, simpler games crowding the market.


    Seems that SOE/LA specifically wanted to remove these elements, and have largely succeeded)  you are so proud to point out as game "Pros".

    As others have mentioned, abysmally lower server populations are not mentioned (there are no less than 4 threads on the front page of the O forums on this right now), the lack of decay making most crafting items less/not useful, the bugs, the lag, the client crashes, the ruined in game economy, the almost non-existant dev team, the unpunished exploiters/credit farmers, none of this was worth a couple lines? Not even in terms of full disclosure?

    A lie of omission is still a lie. As such, this review (and reviewer) has little credibility.



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