I’ve been staying away from as much of the hype surrounding Star Wars: The Old Republic as possible.  I wrote a few posts here and there about some feature or other that I liked but kept myself out of the fray.  Like most dedicated MMO players out there, I’ve been burned too many times in the past in getting worked up about a game only to find it was unplayable, or not what I expected, or otherwise crap in digital form.

I spend a long time tootling around in LotRO and WoW‘s latest expansion (Cataclysm) and while the time was fun, I could think of nothing interesting to write about.  Grinding is grinding and while it can sometimes be enjoyable, it’s fairly unimaginative game play and doesn’t do much to inspire me to writing.

This past Christmas, I had some time off from work and, with no family commitments or other stuff in the way; I picked up a copy of the Old Republic and got playing it.

It’s wonderful!

The Good:

Players can choose from a number of interesting classes to play.  There are two different kinds of Jedi one can play (with corresponding types in the Sith) as well as smugglers, bounty hunters and commandos among others.  Like WoW or LotRO, players can begin adding specification points (LotRO calls these traits) in one of several trees to make the character more unique.  Also, each base class has two specifications a player can choose from.  The smuggler, for example, can become a gunslinger, with an emphasis on ranged damage, or a scoundrel, with a focus on melee combat along with some healing.

Another great point to the game is the story.  Everything is a story.  From the moment a player enters the world, they are setting up a plot for themselves.  Their choices effect the way things turn out for them, how attuned to the Light side / Dark side they are as well as the attitude their companion’s have towards them.  (The companion system in the game is amazing and one of its best features – I’m going to set up a post just about them.)

The Ok:

The game just launched so there are bound to be a few things here and there that aren’t quite up to snuff.  The spaceships in the game function as personal mission areas.  Much of a character’s activity after level 15 or so will be based around their spacecraft.  That part I like.  The space combat isn’t that good.  Unlike SWG’s old fly-where-you-please model, The Old Republic uses a tunnel flying system.  You fly where the rails say you can fly and at the speed they say.  There is some maneuverability, like dodging asteroids and debris, but for the most part you’re just along for the ride.

The armor in the game looks decent, but I really miss LotRO’s appearance slots.  I tend to like to have my character’s looking the part which often means selecting stuff they wear all the time instead of wearing whatever the vicissitudes of the loot system allow.

Also, there are no chat bubbles.  Chat bubbles, even among non-RP types, are a good clue as to who is talking.  Without them, I find myself looking around for a nameplate that matches the name next to the thing I was just told.  It gets old fast.

And lastly, I’m not wild about the skills UI set up.  It’s not horrible, but I’d like to have some more options about how my skills get arranged, especially when there are a lot of skills and there doesn’t seem to be a way to set up command key / number combinations outside controlling the companions.

The Bad:

There have been log-in queues on several servers.  Given the IP and the buzz surrounding the game, that’s not really surprising.  I guess that’s a good problem to have.  Bioware has opened several more servers and new players can see the server status beside it when they first create a character.

Star Wars: The Old Republic had a solid launch.  It’s a well-done game that I will be playing for the foreseeable future.