Taking place 3,600 years before Episode I: A New Hope and several hundred years after the Knights of the Old Republic franchise, The Old Republic is set in a time of intergalactic conflict. Despite the signing of a treaty ending The Great Galactic War between the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire, tensions remain high. At any minute the treaty could be broken and all out war would yet again ravage the galaxy.
In The Old Republic your choices truly matter – they effect both the story and your character. In true Star Wars fashion you are often presented with Light Side and Dark Side choices. Light Side choices are always noble and Dark Side choices are always of self-importance and downright evil. Your choices effect how your companions view you, how story-lines play out, and which items are available to you. Unlike in Bioware’s previous titles, you can’t revert to a previous save if you change your mind. Your choices are permanent.
Each class has their own unique story to complete over the course of the game. For example, the Smuggler is reminiscent of cult-favorite Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly – off traveling the galaxy in an attempt to make money through unofficial and morally gray channels. Sith Warriors start out as apprentices – and basically puppets – constantly doing their master’s bidding and Sith Inquisitor follow a very political path filled with plot-twists. Each classes’ story spans over 150 hours until completion and from what I’ve experienced so far, each is incredibly well done and worth the commitment to complete in their entirety. Even side quests can change depending on your character’s class and factional standing.
While quests follow the tradition MMO formula of ‘kill X amount of X and return to X’, the stories behind them make them work playing through. There’s never a dull moment in The Old Republic – be it hunting down Jawas that may be using the Force or following in a dark lord’s footsteps. Each individual story makes the grind worth it.
Unlike in games like World of Warcraft where quests are divided up between zones on continents , locations in The Old Republic are spread throughout the galaxy. Unfortunately this has a negative effect on the game. It makes each world you visit seem incredibly small since you can’t travel through their entirety . There are large zones, sure, but they just don’t add up in scale compared to the other MMOs on the market.
From a gameplay standpoint, it’s no different than any other MMO – you mash key-bindings in a preferred order until your target dies. If you’re tired of other MMOs because of their gameplay, you won’t be any happier here. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – I suppose.
The space combat in The Old Republic isn’t as open-ended as some would hope. It all takes place as an on rails mini-game of sorts, similar to Star Fox. Missions are limited and they get repetitive fast, so it’s no selling point. Other than combat missions, your ship serves as a hub between planets. From the galaxy map you can select where you want to go and the ship will warp there.
Throughout your journey you encounter companions that make up your crew. Their combat roles range from tank, DPS, and healer. Out of combat they can be put to work! In a very welcomed move, companions level up your professions for you, making the whole crafting experience a very laid back endeavor.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is a MMO unlike any other MMO on the market to date. It brings new things to the genre that only the masterminds at Bioware could dream up. They didn’t just make a MMO – they made a one-of-a-kind gaming masterpiece that will be treasured for years to come.