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Star Wars: The Old Republic Preview

Sara Lau
Oct 25,2011  01:10 by
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Star Wars: The Old Republic has been publicized for a long time. And Bioware has whetted our appetite enough by releasing a potion of information about its second MMO from time to time, ranging from a teaser trailer to a batch of screenshots. Sometimes, we are also provided with bits of particulars about its contents.

Actually, the launch of the game did not go very smoothly. Its original date for the beta testing was cancelled due to some unexpected reasons. And after a long postponement, we finally gained access to its Beta Testing. Given the coincidence that its beta took place during Blizzcon 2011, so we are still wondering about whether Star Wars: The Old Republic will be somewhat outshined by other long-awaited masterpieces, like Starcraft: Heart of the Swarm, Diablo 3 and WOW new expansion – Mists of Pandaria. Anyway, I was fortunately blessed with an opportunity to test the game in person, so I would like to share with you my hands-on experience and personal evaluation about this game.

First of all, let’s focus on some trivial aspects of Star Wars: the Old Republic, such as graphics and soundtrack. The game is set in a universe made of various planets and exotic locations, but there is a clear difference between the game and the film series in this regard. It seems that the planet of Tython has been moderated so as to present a fresh appearance. Generally speaking, the graphics of the game looks fairly polished. But to my mind, the animations and textures still leave much to be desired. Hopefully, the developer can take my suggestion into serious consideration and enhance the game’s overall quality.

Comparatively, the sound effect is worth mentioning. Almost all quests and adventures are supported by corresponding music, brings a feeling of total immersion to all players. In fact, this may even be regarded as one of the greatest features of Star Wars: The Old Republic. While the majority of RPG games explain their background story using voiceless text panels, all tasks in The Old Republic are backed by lively dialogues and rhythmic sounds, which undoubtedly contribute a lot to the gaming atmosphere. In this way, we can be more immersed into actions and quests. Normally, I’m not keen on role-playing games, but I was deeply fascinated by this game, thanks to the existence of appropriate yet appealing music. In addition to being omnipresent throughout the game, the soundtrack is also sufficiently detailed. You will surely be awed by a realistic yet sensational feeling when you hear the clicking and clanking sounds of lightsabers during intense combat. As far as I am concerned, I am fond of the in-game dubbing. And it is really a bizarrely pleasant experience to see my own character enthusiastically chatting with other players.

The class system of Star Wars: The Old Republic is really well-polished to an extent which is rarely seen in other MMOs of the genre. An extensive factional war between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire breaks out on the fantasy world, dragging four classes in each side into unceasing conflicts and disturbing struggles. All the eight professions are designed with great depth. I’d like to elaborate a little bit on this system by citing some examples from my favorite faction, that is, the Republic which consists of four classes, including Trooper, Smuggler, Jedi Knight and Jedi Consular.

Needless to say, each class has its unique fighting style that differentiates it from the rest. For example, Jedi Knight is a pure melee fighter while Jedi Consular is basically a damage dealer. Based on their basic playing style, every class can be further evolved into two possible specializations. Take Jedi Consular as an example, he can be transformed into either a Scholar or a Sage. The former is good at healing and ranged DPS, while the latter is skilled in both melee damage and tank. Of course, different ability will lead to different gameplay. During my testing, I assumed the role as a Smuggler, so I know this class better. In detail, Smugglers are nimble and agile, so they are usually equipped with no heavy armaments. Their advantage lies in the flexible utilization of the Cover System, which not only provides a temporary shelter away from blocking rocks, crates or junks, but also allows themselves to grab their enemies by surprise. My favorite trick is to dazzle my rivals with flash grenades and then quickly slide into another cover.

The PvP combat constitutes an indispensable part of the whole game. You will be thrown into the war zone called Aleraan time and again to battle it out against your opponents. Except for cutthroat duels or massive battles, you are also asked to accomplish a series of quests. For example, a quest will require you to retrieve some stolen drugs from a horde of lawless thieves. When you finally capture the criminals, you will probably be caught in a dilemma where you have to choose to throw those sinners into justice or let them loose. As a dutiful member of your faction, you are strongly recommended to inform your superiors of your status quo. You have the freedom to let your sympathy run wild and release those fugitives, but your action will have a direct impact on your reputation.

If you are longing for a bustling social life, you can form a small group or join an existing one. Designed with specific attributes, each avatar boasts its special advantages and strengths. As a result, it is possible for all members to shoulder different responsibilities in completing demanding missions.

If you want to showcase your personal charisma by venturing into the fantasy world alone, you will still have a droid Companion by your side. It is not a simple pet-like NPC as in most MMOs, your buddy plays a much more important role. It is bestowed with a special personality and can interact with you in a variety of ways. My robot companion was a close friend who would comment on my choice and influence my decision.

What’ more, The Old Republic also incorporates another game mechanics which is known as Crew Skills. To be specific, your companion can accept a variety of tasks, such as gathering materials and then crafting them into items. It can also make some decisions on your behalf, generating corresponding results, good or bad.

As aforementioned, quests are closely attached to the characteristics of relevant classes, so they are normally driven by a detailed and logical storyline. Each class has its unique story-driven quests in the following adventures. Different as they are, all the quests are intricately woven into a coherent and consistent storyline, leading us to explore one planet after another.

Besides, the content of quests is also well designed. For example, a woman who lost a necklace comes to you for help, but an agent of the Republic claims that the woman is a spy and the necklace is a communication device. This quest really has the potential of becoming a thrilling crime story. And are you a qualified detective who can unravel the mystery and find the truth?

Though the quests are generally laudable, there is still an annoying flaw. While conducting certain main missions, I noticed that some of them contained simple meaningless kills, which was probably intended to provide alternative bonuses, that is, a bountiful number of EX points. Of course, we can skip them so as to concentrate on the core missions.

In the beta of Star Wars: The Old Republic, we have also paid a visit to the first Flashpoint Esseles (that represent the instances or dungeons), and challenged the 4 bosses. Repeated visits to the Flashpoints, however, are quickly becoming monotonous and sometimes rambling conversations with NPCs are also boring. Certainly, we believe there will be more challenging instances or flashpoints when the game is officially launched, but you don’t want to miss this one!

Star Wars: The Old Republic certainly has other aspects to delve into; and we have faith that its full version will deliver more surprises. Judging from my personal experience with it, I think it will be a complicated, cinematic and interesting blockbuster. Hopefully, the final version can live up to my expectation.

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