Star Wars: The Old Republic Review

Image for Star Wars: The Old Republic

Out With The Old, In With The Naboo


The second MMO to be based on George Lucas’ fertile sci-fi universe, BioWare’s Old Republic is an instantly familiar experience, the design sharing more than a passing similarity with Blizzard’s masterful World of Warcraft. Old Republic stringently adopts the fundamentals of its wizard and warlock counterpart, the main quests being standard MMO fare – fetch quests, assassination missions and general exploration – coupled with the customary early grind before unlocking the more captivating aspects. Yet, BioWare’s epic comes with a neat twist on tradition, introducing elements from the studio’s solid history in role-playing games.
Whether players align with the Empire or the Republic, embark on adventures in space as a Han Solo-style Smuggler, force-wielding Jedi or Sith, a Boba Fett-like Bounty Hunter or a lowly Trooper, each of the eight classes has its own unique story-driven narrative. BioWare shuffles dominant story arcs through player conversations, companions that’ll accompany you along the way and the odd twist thrown in as a consequence to choices made several hours and star systems earlier. Suffice to say, fans of Mass Effect or Dragon Age will feel right at home.
Unfortunately, while a record-breaking amount of dialogue has been recorded for the game, the characters simply fail to emote – moments of drama are easily spoilt by flat delivery, but rarely at the detriment of the compelling narrative. Most off-putting of all, you’ll have to invest over ten hours into the epic before it really begin to unfold, but when it does it unveils a universe teeming with possibilities. Several distractions are considerately placed, encouraging further exploration: space combat proves a welcome palate-cleanser (while offering plenty of XP to boot), while player-versus-player encounters and Flashpoints (ostensibly dungeons) kindle the community flames.
At this stage PVP modes need some future refinement (with no level banding, more experienced players dominate as there’s a wide variety of skill) and the light side/dark side morality system is a little heavy-handed (you’re encouraged to stick with one or the other), nevertheless it’s an astonishing accomplishment for a debut MMO. As it diligently balances classic genre staples with BioWare’s trademark theatrics, it lacks the whimsical charm of the ubiquitous World of Warcraft, but given time for some fine-tuning it may just usurp the throne yet.