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Released: December 20 2011
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Over the last few months, I’ve slaughtered Sith, Jedi, jawas and a couple of Hutts. I’ve brought worlds to their knees, become best buddies with a hideous force eating monstrosity and called countless people “nerf herder” (including Liam and Andy). Yes, I’ve been playing a lot of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Enough so that I have a big ol’ mean Sith Assassin sitting pretty at level 50 and fair few alts climbing their way up the leveling pole, anyway.
There’s a lot to like about BioWare’s contribution to this increasingly saturated MMO market. I’m a sucker for a good story — which makes my love of MMOs all the more bizarre — and the narrative is probably one of The Old Republic’s strongest elements. It’s no wonder that it took so long for us to get our hands on the game as it contains eight fairly well written, fully voice acted stories intertwined with the over arching tale of the conflict between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire.
In other MMOs my investment in my characters never goes beyond the amount of time I’ve put into them, but in this space opera my investment stemmed from the fact that my Assassin, Soluum (I was really scraping the barrel for Sith Lord names), was a campy psychopath with a fetish for electrocuting everyone. He was wonderful. He had personality, lots of it, that’s not something I ever imagined saying about a player character in an MMO.
These slow burning tales of deceit, adventure and possibly even romance feel very disconnected from the rest of the game, unfortunately. The moment you step into a story instance, signposted by a giant green forcefield, you’re playing a character with a past and his or her own motivations. Outside these instances you’re often relegated another Assassin or Bounty Hunter, spouting canned — sometimes rather amusing — phrases while participating in a boring war. There is a mind boggling amount of dialogue, however, so the canned lines are forgivable much of the time.