A Mind Lost

Anything and everything.

Star Wars and The Old Republic

Lately I’ve been playing Bioware’s recently released “Star Wars: The Old Republic”, to the exclusion of everything else (except a few hours sunk in to Batman Arkham City).  The game (TOR) is pretty darned fun, and they’ve obviously put a considerable effort into telling an interesting story for each of the playable classes, as well as the non-class-specific questlines that everyone can complete.

As much as it’s a World of Warcraft “clone”, there’s a lot of good things that can be said about TOR.  In addition to the storyline, the graphics aren’t too shabby, although some textures are pretty muddy.  A high-res texture pack would have been a nice option.

The game mechanics are fairly straight-forward, as well.  Each class has a main and secondary stat important to it.  There’s no ambiguity over what’s better, and gear selection comes down to main stat and Endurance.  Companions are another nice feature.  Since I tend to run solo a lot (yes, obviating the whole idea of an MMOG, I know), being able to complete quests that would otherwise be impossible is a pleasant change from WoW’s “if you don’t have a group/friends you’re screwed” method.

The downs to the game are few.  I’ve experienced a handful of graphical glitches, all of them easily reproduced.  The user interface has no scaling or customization options, and sometimes behaves in ways that are counter-intuitive.  For example, most companion abilities can be disabled so the ally will not use them.  However, any time the companion is resummoned (for example, mounting and dismounting from a speeder bike) these abilities are mysteriously reactivated.

The lack of scaling is a small annoyance, as the UI takes up a significant amount of space.  Future updates are supposed to address this, but I won’t hold my breath.  I’ve waited for an overhaul to LoTRO’s UI for years; aside from some cosmetic changes, that hasn’t happened.

The bottom line when it comes to TOR, and the previous KoTOR games, is this is Star Wars done right! 

Speaking of doing it right, I just rewatched the original trilogy for the billionth time.  I’ve been a fan for long and long, I watched A New Hope on VHS over and over back in the day, and was just old enough to catch Return of the Jedi in the theatre back in the early 80’s.  I’m not a hardcore fan like some of the folks out there, but I’m a big enough fan that I know  most of the dialog from all three films by heart.

Watching the original trilogy, I am struck by just how well they have stood the test of time.  No digital effects, no fancy acrobatic lightsaber fights or overly dense space battles.  Just great characters, great acting, great action and the right amounts of romance and humour.  All these years later, I’m still astounded by how… great… the original movies are.

Which leaves me wondering how the hell George Lucas could so thoroughly butcher the franchise with the triple abomination that is the prequels!  They’re just such unbelievably terrible films with few redeeming qualities.  Flat characters, an utterly boring storyline, and many inconsistencies with the original films have rendered them practically unwatchable.

For an hilarious but 100% accurate review of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, I recommend any fan check out the Plinkett Star Wars reviews on RedLetterMedia.  You do need a sense of humour and a tolerance for profanity, but with bits like:

If you’re someone who’s under the age of like 20, who says his least favourite film in the series is the Empire Strikes Back because it was “the most boringest one”, then I suggest you shut this review off right now, before I carefully explain how much of a fucking idiot you are.

I’d intended to post a more thorough review of The Old Republic, but my Smuggler’s luring me back.  I’m still not sure if I’ll continue my subscription throughout the year, but for the storylines alone I’ll definitely be keeping it for a few more months at least.

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