2012-02-07

Star Wars: The Old Republic – The "Final" Verdict

by Yo Snyder

After the last review of The
Old Republic
you might be asking where the final review is, and what’s the
verdict? Well, I’m here to provide those answers. As I mentioned last time, The Old Republic is a massive game, and
there’s not really an option to review it as a complete entity. That being
said, I want to provide the most balanced view of it from my experience with
the game.

When we left off last time, my Jedi Consular had finished
the Esseles flashpoint. From here, my character travelled to Coruscant. I was
amazed at the scale, from the impressive skyline full of flying taxis, to the
buildings far off in the distance. This really felt like a bustling, vibrant
world. My character spoke with a senator upon arriving, and I was immediately thrust
into the politics of the planet. I learned of gangs who have taken over the lower
levels, and I spent much time in those zones helping Republic troops clean up
the mess. Instead of walking between zones, a taxi takes the character from
place to place, as many zones are unreachable on foot. Taxi rides were my
favorite part of being on Coruscant. However, the quest lines soon became
stale. I began wondering if I could hasten my departure from this world.
Killing droids in the lower levels became tedious, as did fighting in and out
of gang hideouts. In most MMO games you are provided a safe path to walk
between areas. It isn’t so in TOR. I was constantly confronted by droids that
have respawned. Sometimes they were droids I just killed. The most horrible
word in the MMO and RPG genres is “Grindy” — I think it really describes my experience
on Coruscant.

After I completed my quests on Coruscant, I was presented
with a brand new ship from the Jedi Council. Exploring the ship was quite
exciting. The companion characters that you collect make themselves at home in
various places in the ship.  My first
companion, Qyzen Fess, was already at home in the lower decks of my ship.

Once I received my ship, I also received my first quest for
a space mission. These are repeatable missions, and are actually quite fun. The
combat is an on-rails type. The ship flies in a pre-defined course through
pre-defined enemy ships and the surrounding engagements. Sometimes you have
ally NPC (Non-Player Character) ships, sometimes you just fly solo. If you’re
looking for a deep space combat game, you’ll want to look somewhere else. That
being said, I found this to be a pleasant diversion from the monotony of
questing on Coruscant, and something that was lighthearted and fun. I very much
wish there were more lighthearted and fun activities within the game.

After Coruscant, I travelled to Taris. This was my first
decision as to what planet to visit. I had the chance to pick Nar Shaddaa, the
Hutt world, or Taris. If you remember back to the Knights of the Old Republic
days, Taris was the planet bombed by the Sith Empire. With the TOR timeline
being hundreds of years after these events, it was quite exciting to see the
ruins and plant growth that has consumed much of the planet. Many of the quests
on Taris include scientific research, specifically into the Rakghoul plague.
This plague has been around for hundreds of years, and if you’ve played the
original game you’ll definitely remember it. I appreciate the graphical update
to the creatures, as they look quite menacing. Taris isn’t all Rakghouls though,
as there is also a problem with bounty hunters stealing munitions and supplies.
The setting and zones of Taris were fantastic, but it suffered much the same
problem as Coruscant. The quests never seemed to end. When I finally completed
my primary quests, I was presented with a “Taris: Bonus Series.” After
completing the bonus series I was more than ready to leave, and never return to
Taris

After Taris, I visited Nar Shaddaa. It was here that I
stopped caring about all of the cutscenes, voice acting, and quest content all
together. Nar Shadaa seems exactly like Coruscant, but with sleazy Vegas colors
instead of the regal golds and silvers of Coruscant. I’m pretty certain the
distant skyline is exactly the same as Coruscant. I did not enjoy my time on Nar
Shaddaa. The problem almost became worse, as I hit level 20 and received my
first mount. Being that the planet is all interior, I wasn’t really sure where
I could or couldn’t use my mount without continually glancing at the icon to
see if it was darkened or not. I discovered also, that there’s a bonus series
for pretty much every planet at this point. I skipped the bonus quests for Nar
Shaddaa.

I wish I could say it got better. I went to Tatooine next. In
my opinion, Tatooine was an unmitigated disaster full of frustrating zones, NPC
spawns, and crazy visual bugs. There have been mass reports of these bugs on
Tatooine. In the time I spent on the planet, they weren’t resolved even though
Bioware released two bug fix patches. The quests on Tatooine mostly revolve
around protecting moisture farmers, saving their stolen families, and getting
their various things back from sand people. Here, I also skipped the bonus
quests.

I want to stop here for a moment, and discuss one thing that
I feel TOR is greatly missing. In a word, it’s missing “Fun.” The game contains
a great amount of care and polish. However, I felt so weighed down by the
plight of every single quest that I read that I stopped reading them. It’s
heavy material, and it’s unceasing, almost like the life and the joy have been
taken out of the Star Wars universe. Dread, sorrow, and pain are everywhere. We
normally go to videogames to relax and even escape from life, because real life
has so much dread, sorrow, and pain. It’s hard to play a game like this,
because I know there’s also joy in life. The Bible says there is joy in the
Lord, and one of the things that define his followers should be joy. When we
experience hurt in real life, we can have faith that God also means it for
good. The designers don’t have the same altruistic outlook, and even when you
try to do good in game, it often turns out poorly. They kind of went overboard
with that kind of plot twist. Other than space combat, there’s not anything to
do that gives you some reprieve from fixing everything in the universe.

After Tatooine, and a break from the game for a bit, I
ventured to Alderaan. If you remember your Star Wars, this planet will be
destroyed by a certain dark lord of the Sith in a few thousand years. Alderaan
is also a visually stunning planet, full of forests, some snowy mountains, and
really nifty flying critters. In some locations, it’s actually possible to take
a taxi to another location and ride on a flying sea angel animal. Alderaan is
full of more political intrigue, including warring houses, attacks on
settlements, and even a little research on some bugs. The setting has done a
lot to offset my feelings of Tatooine, but the quests still seem to drag on, as
they have on every planet.

Just a couple final notes before the score: When the quests
start to drag on, it is possible to stick just to your class story and get off
the planet as quickly as possible. You technically don’t have to go through all
of the quests on a given planet, and to avoid burnout, I recommend against it unless
you’re an avid completionist. I think there is a lot of room for Bioware to add
fun activities such as minigames, whether Sabaac, or other new and exciting
options. Also, the Flashpoints (The group instances) are top notch and quite
enjoyable, and have endgame variants so players can play them when they reach
level 50 and not miss out. Operations also seem quite exciting, but I don’t
have any experience to comment on their quality. I’m impressed at how Bioware
has already released a content patch that added a new operation, as it really
shows their sincerity at making sure the game is constantly updated with new
things to do.

Based on my experiences, I would still recommend The Old Republic to any Star Wars fan.
Each class is exciting to play, the story is well written, and the game is so
new that it has a bright future ahead of it. However, because of the lack of
light and fun things to actually do, as well as the tedious nature of questing,
it’s tough to give The Old Republic a
recommendation to everyone. My final score feels a little harsh, like the
bitter cold of Hoth, at 4/7, but
with room to grow. The Guide will have your patch reviews for future content
added. I sincerely hope that Bioware applies the same care and quality to
making the game more fun. Right now The
Old Republic
is really good, but it’s not very fun.