Should You Buy Star Wars: The Old Republic? Yes

When the RPG masters at BioWare team up with George Lucas' beloved science fiction franchise amazing things happen, but is the developer's first foray into the MMO market worth your massively multiplayer money?

A Star Wars: The Old Republic review isn't built in a day. With changes and tweaks being made constantly up to launch day and beyond and so much of the experience relying on the growing game community, day one reviews based on beta experience aren't really able to provide a comprehensive look at a massively multiplayer online game. Even after 20 hours playing in the game's early launch I would hesitate in delivering a definitive recommendation or condemnation of BioWare's latest and greatest. Instead I'll be following our established MMO reviewing formula: Four weekly impressions-filled gameplay journals followed by a final verdict based on those experiences.

While you'll have to wait until tomorrow for the first of those journals, I can at least give you my off-the-cuff suggestion based on what I've seen so far. Normally we try to gather three early opinions, two from those that have played the game and one from someone without much experience. We're only doing two this time around, with Owen Good (my MMO apprentice) as the non-player and me as the player, though at nearly two dozen hours I've barely scratched the surface.

This is exactly the sort of situation that requires a Gut Check.

Michael Fahey, a dark and evil MMO player whose two children may be the only hope for a doomed galaxy: I've had many doubts over the development cycle that BioWare, a company known for its single-player role-playing games, had what it takes to create a proper massively multiplayer online RPG. The developer's focus on emotionally engaging stories just didn't seem to mesh with the idea of a large online world populated by thousands of players.

After playing Star Wars: The Old Republic in both beta and now more than 20 hours of early access, I'm still not convinced BioWare can craft a massively multiplayer experience that can stand the test of time. The portions of the game that focus on multiple players getting together in crafted player-versus-environment and player-versus-player scenarios don't feel nearly as polished and balanced as those of other games in the genre. There are some excellent ideas here that I will get into with my weekly journals, but I'm not sure they can carry the weight of a monthly subscription yet.

So how come the big graphic up top is all green? Because Star Wars: The Old Republic is at its core eight different single-player BioWare Star Wars stories rolled up into one. Each of the eight classes in the game has its own story that sees players travelling to the far corners of the galaxy in pursuit of their own personal adventure. My Smuggler, for instance, has developed an intense rivalry with a rival operator. I hate this bastard, and can't wait to see how he gets his final comeuppance at the end of the storyline. Consider me emotionally engaged.

To bottom line it, for $US59.99 you get eight different single-player BioWare Star Wars games that just happen to have other people wandering about in them. You've got a month to play through them all and figure out if the massively multiplayer aspects of The Old Republic are worth subscribing to. Yes.

Owen Good, who turned to the MMO side and became Darth Fahey's apprentice this year: In practical terms, buying this game is a pretty simple "no" for me right now — I'm a Mac user. I'd be lying, however, if I not only thought about buying a copy of Windows 7 for use in Boot Camp, but also moved up my purchase of a new computer to yesterday in the vague hope I could find a way to play The Old Republic on it. That would make this game effectively cost some $US1,500, and though that's prohibitively expensive, there's still a powerful gut feeling in me that The Old Republic is something worth joining. I do not have the budget for it now, but it's a lead-pipe cinch I'll be playing the game, somehow, in the next three or four months. Considering what I'll have to overcome to do that, it makes it a Yes.

Gut Check is an off-the-cuff impression of what we think of a game: what we'd tell a friend; how we'd respond on Twitter or Facebook or over a beer if someone asked us "Would you buy this game?" Our lead writer, who has played a lot of the game, decides. Other writers chime in for additional points of view.

Comments

    I love it... and not even for the MMO stuff, this is probably the closest we'll get to KOTOR3 for a while, and even playing on your own the amount of content available is baffling.

    Im loving it also, havent been this hooked since WoW (and i've tried plenty of MMO's over the years). For me the dialogue has been the main draw, I get plenty of entertainment from choosing different options and it seems especially rewarding when your option is chosen for the grouping missions/flashpoints.
    Plenty are saying it is just WoW in space, but its definitely offering alot more than that in my opinion. The way companions work is cool and I just got my ship last night, looking forward to seeing what that leads to.

    I want to play it as much as I want to hate it.

    I'm not a Star Wars fan, but I don't hate the universe. I'm a long time MMO player but I'm not WoW fanboi that feels the need to bad mouth every other MMO out there. But there is something about SWTOR that just makes me really, really angry...

    Oh right, Bioware told Australians to go shove it up their collective rears.

    It's a fantastic game.

    It's actually an mmorpg, as opposed to most of the competion being only mmo's.

    Only thing I am not liking so far are the server queues, which should alleviate somewhat after launch (at least for aussies, most of us who are playing pre-ordered and are already in the game anyway)

    Loving it so far.

    I haven't played other MMOs, but I'm really enjoying SWTOR's multiplayer PvE missions. They're story-driven and are a great way to temporarily group up for a bigger task.

    And it goes without saying that the singleplayer missions are pretty amazing.

    Fuck you, Bioware.

      Why? Because it's not in a console, or because you can't buy it locally. If for the later, blame EA. If for the former, tough.

      I blame EA. I also blame Bioware for allowing themselves to go with EA.

    Fuck you, EA, for your T&C's on Origin and for not even releasing this here. Grrrr.

      Buy it from Amazon. You won't need to touch Origin then.

    Now, I haven't played it, and I don't have the hardware to play it, but i'm gonna recommend you play it, even if it will cost you $1500 to be able to play it because of [ERROR. REASON NOT FOUND] - Owen Good

    My CE turned up in melbourne from Amazon yesterday, got into early acess from minute one. The game has some annoying bugs but the core gameplay it totally awesome.

    I'm loving every moment of it. But, it feels more like a single player game that you can sometimes team up with your friends on. We'll have to see if subscriptions are worth it.

    For now, I'm getting my 48 hours grace period playtime, then waiting patiently for my copy to arrive. Should've chosen faster shipping from Amazon >.<

    OWEN GET A PC!How can a game reviewer not have one of the major platforms?It's like being a music reviewer and not having a CD player or just being DEAF.

    They should just make a multi platform action coop rpg for this. Probably cost less to make, and definitely would sell more.

    This game is so full of bugs it really takes away from what you should be experienceing in a video game. Maybe in a few months it might be worth having but for now I fully regret buying this game in its current state.

    You can no longer buy it from Amazon.

    It's on a restricted list and can only be mailed to certain countries - booo!

      scratch that ... I just can't ship it to my works PO BOX ... it wants a specific street address.

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