BioWare announced the official release date (12/20/11) for the long anticipated MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic yesterday. Though there are still 3 months before the release date, based on the dozens of trailers showcasing gameplay, beta testing, and early game access, a pre-release review can help explain all the interesting features to those who don’t have the time to watch over 50 trailers and hundreds of posts talking about the design and gameplay of BioWare’s biggest project yet.
One of the most prominent aspects of SW:TOR is choice; customization is the name of the game. With two main factions, the light and dark side, four classes to choose from, and two more sub-classes that players can choose to specialize in, players already have 16 options to choose from before they even create their character (though technically, players choose class specializations after leveling up, many are planning ahead). Those 16 choices are in addition to extremely high level character customization, from eye color to scars and everything in between. To add even more freedom and choice for players, classes get over 40 companion characters to choose from, which get their own skill sets, abilities, and even level up. Players can also use appearance kits to differentiate their own companions from others. Not only fighting by your side, companion characters also give advice, voice opinions, and give insight into situations. Players can also alter the behavior of companions by telling them which abilities to use and not to use. Companions can also do crafting for players; they can make items using materials you provide, taking away the taxing and boring aspects of craftsmanship. Companions can also fall in love with players, if the players want that to happen. The amount of customization showcased by companion characters also applies to many other aspects of the game, making customization the most noticeable feature of SW:TOR.
Another important thing to note is the amazingly high level of polish SW:TOR has. BioWare really developed this game to perfection; everything from animations to combat interaction is refined and elegant. SW:TOR is really the opposite of Dead Island in terms of game design and thorough development. Everything from lightsaber combat to running animations looks realistic and believable, creating an immersive experience. Producing this immersive experience is one of the most important achievements BioWare has made with SW:TOR. With Star Wars being a science fiction story that is incredibly deep, a player needs to believe and feel that he has been transported to the Star Wars universe and must stay immersed; otherwise the game isn’t “realistic” and could take away from the fantasy and fun of being a Jedi or Sith warrior.
This brings us to another amazing feature of SW:TOR, the combat interaction system. With so many different types of players encompassing dozens of styles of combat, having them fight each other in a realistic fashion would be nightmare if not for the amazing combat animation of BioWare’s developers. Though some players strike with lightsabers and others shoot with assault rifles, and though some can create shields and barriers while others take to the skies with jet packs, the combat system is flawlessly graceful and yet another cornerstone of SW:TOR.
Yet another remarkable feature is the wide-ranging list of possibilities players can choose to take part in. With over 15 planets to explore and complete quests on, countless space stations to dock on, large voids of space to take part in space combat in, flash-points (or raid encounters) to fight bosses in, and guilds to align with, players have nearly limitless opportunities to take part in the Star Wars universe. The amount of outstanding content BioWare has included in this masterpiece is staggering. No matter what path players choose to take, no matter where they choose to explore or whom they choose to fight, they can expect to have an entertaining and immersive experience. If readers want to keep an eye on or pre-order an up-and-coming game, Star Wars: The Old Republic is definitely the frontrunner.
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