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Post by Dan @ 04:56pm 21/12/11 | 60 Comments
The long-awaited MMO from BioWare Star: Wars The Old Republic is an unusual beast for many reasons. This hugely anticipated game from one of the most respected names in the RPG business, based on one of the biggest franchises in pop-culture has just launched in North America and Europe in late December -- a timeslot almost unheard of in the games industry.

As MMO creators and publishers increasingly turn toward free-to-play business models, SWTOR represents a huge push back to subscription-based monetisation and due to it's ambition, scale and timing, its success or failure may very well steer the direction of the genre as either inspiration or a warning to future MMO publishers.

More unusual still is the unexplained decision to delay the game's launch in Australia until next March, leaving Internet savvy Aussies to either sit around reading about the rest of the developed world playing this game or pursue the various options for importing a copy.

As many our our forum denizens will know, long term AusGamers contributor Khel has been involved in a lot of the game's beta testing and the recent early game access period for pre-order customers, so we've been able to tap into his many years of MMO experience for this in-depth review.

Bear in mind that the scale of MMOs does make them awkward to rate in the same context as more conventional games, so while we can't go into great detail about end-game content and lastability at this early time, we hope this review will still be a useful resource for evaluating the game's initial purchase price -- leaving the worth of a continued monthly subscription as something you should derive yourself.
BioWare have remarkably pulled a rabbit out of the hat with Star Wars: The Old Republic. While they haven’t revolutionised MMO gameplay as we know it, they have delivered one of the best looking, most playable and most polished MMOs in history -- in fact, a level of polish you just don’t expect from the genre.
Read on for all the details.



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Latest Comments
fryzeegunner
Posted 06:17pm 21/12/11
10/10
konstie
Posted 06:32pm 21/12/11
ehhh, i disagree about the bugs- i've encountered a few (mostly during cinematics where textures on character models stuff up).

other than that, i am enjoying it, haven't really played an MMO before this.
Khel
Posted 07:08pm 21/12/11
Yeah, I mentioned that you get the odd graphical glitch in the review, but realistically considering the huge scale of the game, and how minor they usually are, its pretty much a non-issue. I've seen worse graphic glitches in single player games that don't have the added complexity and scope of being an MMO. And being a PC game you never really know how many of those graphic glitches are the game's fault or the video card driver's fault anyway.

Personally I've had no texture problems, but my character now is wearing a cape and once it acted a bit odd in a cutscene, but off the top of my head thats the only one I can even remember, and thats only because it happened to me today.
konstie
Posted 07:37pm 21/12/11
yeah, hit and miss with each PC i suppose, so many different setups these days.

nice review mate :)
Eorl
Posted 07:40pm 21/12/11
Hey Khel, the storyline isn't actually as linear as you mention. The class quests can go down several different paths with different outcomes and gear, and the other quests featured throughout the game can have different endings and different choices.

Otherwise, great review!
Nathan
Posted 07:55pm 21/12/11
So how grindy is this?
Khel
Posted 07:58pm 21/12/11
Yeah, I guess by linear I mean the order you do things, like its not like you get to a point where you can choose to go level in a couple of different places, its always this planet, then this planet, then this planet, etc. Even though you get a choose in your class quest to either go to (for example) Tattooine or Alderaan, its not really a choice, cos at that point you're too low level for Alderaan, and you have to end up doing both anyway. And with only two different starting planets, if you rolled say an Imperial Agent, and then a Bounty Hunter as an alt, you wouldn't even get a different starting zone to try out.

Like you said though, quests can play out in different ways, same with the Flashpoints, so theres some replayability there, but you're still going to the same places in the same order and doing essentially the same things. Its not a HUGE deal, hence the reason the game still scored so well, and the stories are so well written that playing through them twice is still most likely going to be fun, but I still can't help but feel a bit limited by it.

And thanks :P
Tollaz0r!
Posted 09:06pm 21/12/11
As a starting point SWTOR seems to be i na really good place. Give it the time and effort WOW has had over the years and imagine where it could get.
Vash
Posted 09:13pm 21/12/11
ive yet to play a non grindy MMO except for the glory days of UO, i bet this is the same s***
DK
Posted 09:14pm 21/12/11
Is this finally the wow killer? Or is this just another AOC, LTRO, etc.

I hope it is so blizzard do something new
glynd
Posted 09:29pm 21/12/11
ehhh, i disagree about the bugs- i've encountered a few (mostly during cinematics where textures on character models stuff up). other than that, i am enjoying it, haven't really played an MMO before this.


put it this way ... this is unbelievably bugless compared to every other mmo release. never seen such a stable release ... only problem is the queues but that was easily predicted.

while it's an mmo, it hardly feels like one. I'm just happy doing all the quests. storyline is great!
Pirroh
Posted 09:40pm 21/12/11
I keep hearing good things about this but I've never really been an MMO fan.
Eorl
Posted 10:10pm 21/12/11
The good thing is you don't have to be. It's Kotor3 but multilayer capabilities. What's really good is that you decide of you want it to be a singleplayer feel, or a multilayer. You can questions with your companion or do it with a group. Even better is that there isn't that grindy feel like other know, as those quests appear randomly and you can finish them or not.
Obes
Posted 10:30pm 21/12/11
Is this finally the wow killer? Or is this just another AOC, LTRO, etc.

Neither.
WoW will continue (WOW was an "eq killer" and EQ just released another expansion ... good mmo's don't die easily)

AC and LOTRO have their fans.
I think this will have a larger fan base to start with.


As for bugs ... If you have mice issues (and all the people who I play with have experienced it multiple times a night) eg. the left mouse button stops responding ... press ctrl-u twice.
TicMan
Posted 11:34pm 21/12/11
This has killed WoW for me if it helps! :)
TufNuT
Posted 11:47pm 21/12/11
yeah i have to agree with TicMan, so far i am really enjoying it far more than wow.. i have to say this is a wow killer if there ever was one.. considering i have been playing wow since release, thats a pretty big call for me.

having said that i am only level 10 so things might change.. although it does look like they have learnt a lot from wow and other MMOs that tried and failed.
Stalfax
Posted 01:26am 22/12/11
The only WoW killer is the Kung Fu Panda Expansion, and by "killer" I mean they might lose a few million subs. Only Blizzard can kill wow, but competition is excellent for the future of gaming.
Rawprawn
Posted 02:12am 22/12/11
Great game review Khel! I'm happy too see this game rise above criticisms about it's value against the MMO heavy weights. However....
I take issue regarding the region issues. I'm not playing ANOTHER MMO that gives me 200ms (with tunneling software). Ever.
Beyond that, the game sounds promising, though painfully similar to WoW.. If they seriously release local servers, I might find myself playing it. I love Starwars, and have played both KOTOR's. Not sure if this is enough for me to get back into the MMO genre unless previous requirements are met. A fine business model, though not a great model for proper gamers IMHO.
I'm a massive MMO skeptic. It is not the future of gaming, or rather, I hope it isn't.
icewyrm
Posted 02:13am 22/12/11
Hopefully they'll add some sort of free trial option so people can test it for themselves in future.
Stalfax
Posted 02:21am 22/12/11
More importantly, where can we buy it?! Seems most of the CD keys sites are out of stock
WirlWind
Posted 03:15am 22/12/11
Stalfax, keep an eye on CJS-keys imo.

I got mine from them for like $60 (which was $20 or so cheaper than buying from amazon).

Keep a look on their facebook page and they usually say on there when they're putting new keys up.

As for the game, I think I'm something like 60 hours /played (probably more) and I've still not even settled on a goddamn main class XD
TicMan
Posted 07:47am 22/12/11
I'm not playing ANOTHER MMO that gives me 200ms (with tunneling software).


I get ~180ms on my ADSL2 (haha, syncs at 1.4Mbit) BigPond connection without any tunnelling software.
Tollaz0r!
Posted 08:47am 22/12/11
I rememberthe good ol days playing FPS' with 300 ping on dial up.

Anyway I'll finally be giving this a bash tonight, yay.
Reverend Evil
Posted 09:21am 22/12/11
So the big question is, what are the controls like? Do the characters feel sluggish when moving around and do the casting/fighting animations feel fluid. This is normally a game breaker for me. I know I say this all the time buy WoW is the perfect example of how it should feel. I might give this a go when it gets an official release out here if it hasn't died off in the ass like so many MMO's do.
ravn0s
Posted 09:29am 22/12/11
So the big question is, what are the controls like? Do the characters feel sluggish when moving around and do the casting/fighting animations feel fluid.


great. no and yes.
Tollaz0r!
Posted 10:08am 22/12/11
Rev, from everything I've read SWTOR is as responsive or even more so then WOW.



What people have not spoke about and I touched on above is this:

As a starting point SWTOR is already in a great position. They have nailed the basic gameplay, learned from WOW's mistakes and have an excellent platform to build on. It will be very interesting where they take this game over the course of the next few years.
Obes
Posted 10:33am 22/12/11
Rev, from everything I've read SWTOR is as responsive or even more so then WOW.

I'd say no, despite the better ping
TiT
Posted 10:38am 22/12/11
just to confirm there is no monthly subscription???
glynd
Posted 10:54am 22/12/11
just to confirm there is no monthly subscription???


$14 a month.
Keato
Posted 12:01pm 22/12/11
Its a great game and I love it.

Many times id leveled and forgot to train so engrossed in the story.

Ive leveled with friends so I see all their class quests and its great fun seeing what options people choose in dialog and the responses. Ive not laughed in an MMO since the days of Jim on the walls in DAOC doing rolling hammers.

Downsides ;

-4 man group size (including pets)
-I don't get to kill everyone (People I group with are soft c****)
-Vent f**** up left mouse and you have reload UI (10 times a night)
trog
Posted 12:09pm 22/12/11
Can you be a Jedi?
HurricaneJim
Posted 12:25pm 22/12/11
Yes trog you can be a pussy whipped Jedi but it's more fun to be a Sith.....something something something darkside


I throw up some other links;

Classes

http://www.torhead.com/player-classes

torhead also includes a skill calculator

Datacrons

http://www.swtor-spy.com/datacrons/
ravn0s
Posted 12:35pm 22/12/11
Can you be a Jedi?


there's two jedi classes, jedi knight and jedi consular that then split into 4 advanced classes at level 10 (2 advanced classes each)
Khel
Posted 12:44pm 22/12/11
Yeah, the 4 man group size seems odd, I'd really like to know their rationale behind that
ravn0s
Posted 01:38pm 22/12/11
i like the group sizes. it's hard enough getting 4 randoms together to do heroic area quests, let alone 6+ people. that's also why i usually skip all those heroic quests. cant be f***ed wasting time spamming lfg when i could be off doing solo quests.
Obes
Posted 01:44pm 22/12/11
there's two jedi classes, jedi knight and jedi consular that then split into 4 advanced classes at level 10 (2 advanced classes each)

That sort of statement confuses people.
Advanced classes are the classes. The first 10 levels of the 4 basic class are nothing, ignore them they are about 3 hours of game play, the "class" defines their skill limiting resource.
There are 8 advanced/real classes, 4 of them are jedi. Sentinel, Guardian, Sage and Shadow. The 4 sith classes are basically copies give or take a cosmetic change and different names.

Previous games that had a class that you then chose an advanced class for the most part have removed that mechanic. You can not respec your advanced class (ever). You get a 1 time 1 shot chance at picking the class you want. And the first 10 levels of Bounty hunter give you absolutely no idea what the 2 advanced classes are. I have no idea how the bounty hunter heals, despite playing a bounty hunter (a different advanced class however). And say I get to 40 and realize I wanted to be a healing bounty hunter, I would have to replay 40 levels of the same bounty hunter content ...

Dumb mechanic is dumb.

Yeah, the 4 man group size seems odd, I'd really like to know their rationale behind that

It's not an mmo in the old sense, it's a single player game expanded to 2 person mode (discussion choices have super limited input on the outcome) with barrens chat. Maybe the 16 person operations will feel more massive.

I know that sounds like I am being negative, but it's not a bad thing. 2 people can do most of the non-"raid" content in the game. Compared to DAOC that needed 8 ... or an enchanter pet. The very linear nature of the conversations and content is going to hurt alt-a-bility.

It at least at the moment feels super casual friendly.
Hence why I don't think it is a WOW killer, hard core raiders will not hang around after they get max level and realize it isn't as "hard core" as wow.


It's fun, in a co-op RPG sort of way.
TicMan
Posted 02:13pm 22/12/11

I might give this a go when it gets an official release out here if it hasn't died off in the ass like so many MMO's do.


Give it a crack now Rev so you have heaps of people to level up with. I've played many an MMO and can honestly say this is beating the pants off them all! It's fun, it's engrossing, there's a lot of content, the visuals and sounds are f*****g amazing, instances/flashpoints are loads of fun and as Keato said I've also laughed at some of the responses friends make to the storyline but also what the actual characters say when you choose an option.
ravn0s
Posted 02:53pm 22/12/11
i can see it now. rev will play for a couple days, think its boring and go back to WOW.
Shaexen
Posted 03:05pm 22/12/11
Don't worry guys Guild wars 2 the mmo holy grail just went into closed beta so the wait is finally coming to an end.

TOR is going be to quite a forgettable game imo.
Khel
Posted 04:04pm 22/12/11
TOR is going be to quite a forgettable game imo.


Yeah, I guess you're right, cos its obviously a s*** game that nobody here is playing or enjoying
Reverend Evil
Posted 04:09pm 22/12/11
i can see it now. rev will play for a couple days, think its boring and go back to WOW

LOL, I prolly will. But that will be because of s***** controls or gumby animations. Anyway, by the time it gets officially released here they would have had time to stamp out the major bugs if there are any.
Stalfax
Posted 07:03pm 22/12/11
Well I think it'll do better than RIFT.. and that's prob the closest game to being comparable to WoW in recent times
neimad
Posted 12:10am 23/12/11
Good review Khel. I agree with most of the sentiments you've considered.

The real issue is with the delayed release strategy for those in the "red zones" - which doesn't seem to serve any fathomable purpose.

Having played through the Early Game Access and now waiting for my Amazon order to arrive, this will be the PC game that will occupy my time in 2012.
Stalfax
Posted 03:46am 23/12/11
Checked about cdkey sites... all sold out :(
groganus
Posted 09:05am 23/12/11
Hand's down one of the best mmo launches I have ever been involved in.

As for bugs ... If you have mice issues (and all the people who I play with have experienced it multiple times a night) eg. the left mouse button stops responding ... press ctrl-u twice.


I WANT TO HAVE YOUR BABIES!

This game is all kinds of magic, from the unattended crafting system of getting your companions to do it. To the fun break up the mmo feel of a space mission. To jumping annoyingness of searching for datacrons. It is seriously hard to faulty this game.

It has balance issues in pvp, but that clashing sound of light sabers quickly helps you forget about that.

There is so much to this game and I almost can't believe they "did it".
Ha
Posted 10:01am 23/12/11
i'd like to hear the opinion of someone who is entirely indifferent to, or actively dislikes star wars.
Khel
Posted 02:38pm 23/12/11
Well if you really hate Star Wars, then you probably aren't going to enjoy the game, because its very Star Wars. Even though its set like 3000 years or so before the movies, it still has the feel of classic Star Wars.
Crakaveli
Posted 02:49pm 23/12/11
I still can't even play, game has started crashing on launch for me again. Cancelled my sub just before, which is a shame but i'm not paying for a game i can't even play.
Khel
Posted 04:35pm 23/12/11
That sucks :(

Do you know anyone with a different video card that you could maybe chuck in your PC, to see if its the video card? Run things like memcheck and prime95 to test the general stability of your system? Dunno what it could be, but that does indeed suck
regal
Posted 10:46am 26/12/11
SWTOR customer support centre is lacking in real service.

If you're phoning, expect to be waiting on hold for 2+ hours then cut off. Ring back go through same routine and be given the run around with no resolution to your problem then cut off.
If you submit a ticket or email, expect days to pass for a vague response.

This is very concerning to me when you have purchased the game and have account or subscription problems that need to be resolved. If you have received this game as a gift, expect them to ask you for proof of purchase to be provided before they consider resolving your problem.

Ingame- stuttering; making endgame content or raiding a nonevent.

The questing was fun, particularly in groups. But I'm afraid that Rift wins hands down at this time for impeccable service and smooth playability.
Obes
Posted 10:53am 26/12/11
Khel ... be objective, not defensive.

You say the game won't be forgettable ? why ?
ps. the answer isn't "it's fun the first run through".

What is the end game content people will be staying to play ?
Eorl
Posted 11:15am 26/12/11
There is currently 1 PVE raid, several end flashpoints, a PVE world for anyone who doesn't want to do raiding, and PVP.
Khel
Posted 04:57pm 26/12/11
Khel ... be objective, not defensive.


I wasn't being defensive, it was a stupid troll post so I gave a stupid sarcastic answer. Such is the QGL way.

Forgettable doesn't equate to "is it going to last as long as WoW" though. I mean, I got no idea if it will have that lastability, even expressed doubts of my own about its replay value in the review, but its not forgettable, it makes a lasting impression (well at least, it has on me, and I'm sure it has on many other people as well based on replies in this thread). Whether it lasts or not, its still a really fun game, and even if it only keeps me amused for a couple of months thats a lot more than most games do.

There is currently 1 PVE raid


I think theres actually three raids, they only announced one (that prison one), but if you look in the raid lockouts tab theres lockouts for three different raids, and theres three different raid-level gear vendors, so I'm assuming theres three raids. Once again though, I got absolutely no idea what they're like or even if they're any good, they could all be s*** for all I know.

SWTOR customer support centre is lacking in real service.


Yeah, sadly, I gotta agree here. I haven't had to go through the phone support yet, but my experience with customer service as far as submitting tickets go has been pretty woeful, and even when they eventually responded, they didn't even come close to even understanding the problem I was having let alone resolving it.

Have to disagree with your conclusion though because personally Rift bored the pants off me :P But yeah, they really need to work on their customer support for ToR in a big way.
Tollaz0r!
Posted 09:02am 27/12/11
I think part of their customer support issues is due to the game selling much better then what they anticipated and they just don't have the staff on hand to deal with it. Hopefully that is resolved in future.

They say they are releasing a new content update early next year, that will give us a vague idea of the direction they want to head with SWTOR.

I really hope they flesh out the economy a lot more, at the moment it is very basic. I really feel this is an area they need to work on to keep long time players on board.

Supply and demand based crafting quests perhaps. Where vendors and world NPC actually use equipment made by the Empire and supplimented by player crafting. When item stocks are getting low, vendors pay higher prices and give better XP.

Get it to the point so that if your sides economy is sliding the other side has a stronger advantage in PVP, give those end game players a real sense of contributing to the economy and helping all players overall perhaps?
The-Makkaan
Posted 12:58am 28/12/11
Its fun, although i do wish was a little bit more detail and customizations in the character creator.
Jump Jump Die
Posted 04:29pm 04/1/12
I have only invested about 15 hours into this game so far but I am a little disappointed with how linear it is. To me it just feels like a kinda crappy single player I see other characters running around in. Yeah, the story is better than other MMOs, but not better than a dedicated single player campaign.

The quests are really grindy I find, yes there is conversation but sitting there listening to every idiot you come across can become quite boring and I find myself skipping past a lot of the quest dialogue (except the main plot). The quests themselves don't feel unique at all to me. All the bonuses for each quest are basically "Kill x guards" and it gets a little dull.

The combat is fun but again, not much different from anything else I have played. Reminds me A LOT of WOW which is to be expected I guess. All in all I would have preferred a star war games much more like Star Wars Galaxies in terms of its openness and size, but I feel like I got a multiplayer campaign mission... Dunno how much longer I will play it.

Anyone agree?
Mephz
Posted 04:36pm 04/1/12
^ No, just you.

I think a lot of people are forgetting just how linear WoW really was.
It was pretty much the same. talk to some random assbean who wants you to kill x many mobs or collect y ribs which is 1% drop rate of z mob. etc.

Never read a single line of quest text in WoW. I listen/watch all quest and main quests in SWTOR.
Does it feel like wow? sure it does, but improves on the idea. Is it quite as fleshed out and as polished? No, probably not quite but WoW is what, seven?! years old. Theres content coming very shortly for swtor and its being patched regularly so it'll get there.
WoW was not a flawless gem on release.
Trixxta
Posted 08:12pm 09/1/12
If anyone wants to buy a copy of this I am looking to offload an extra one I got from amazon

http://www.ausgamers.com/forums/forsale/thread.php/3160309

$55 - I am in Sydney Australia

PM for details

Oh and its a pretty fun game BTW - it will leach a lot of players from Wow. I don't think it will have true staying power and to be honest they have copied an awful lot from Wow but if you are looking for a new MMO it will keep you occupied for a while at least.

Cheers
Obes
Posted 08:49pm 09/1/12
I think a lot of people are forgetting just how linear WoW really was.

Nah you didn't go from the same zone to the same zone doing all the same quests (bar the class ones).

SWTOR is super light on content. It's polished content, just not much of it.
Eorl
Posted 09:01pm 09/1/12
Agreed Obes, very polished, most superb MMO I've played, but sadly the content is thin, as it's really one planet per level bracket. I noticed this after getting a Scoundrel to 22, and then trying to level up a Sage, and just space barring through content.
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