Some say it’s good to be bad. To be mean to the point of becoming a pantomime villain within a gripping story that can last for over 50 hours is certainly appealing to many. Take for example, those who play on the side of the Empire in Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR); they certainly hold that view.
So much so, that SWTOR
has taken a firm hold on a large chunk of the videogame playing masses; with a launch that has seen many succumb to both dark and light sides of the force to the exclusion of everything else. I too joined the hive of scum and villainy that is SWTOR
and thus found myself transported far back to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
takes place 3,500 years prior to the events that unfolded in the Star Wars
films, and 300 years after the end of Knights of the Old Republic 2
A peace exists between the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic following the ‘Great Galactic War’ that occurred over 10 years prior to the period that players of SWTOR
find themselves in. The world of SWTOR
is in the midst of a cold war, which is about to become much hotter thanks to the conflicts that are starting to build, as the peace between the Empire and the Republic begins to fall apart.
Normally storyline and setting are of little consequence to massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). Players dive into the game with the aim of having the best gear and to see as much content as possible. The story within the game is pushed into the background in favour of the desire to acquire better stuff.
attempts to break this mould by placing the player in the centre of their own personal story, which has been carefully prepared for their chosen class. It is this reliance on story integration at such an ingrained level that sets SWTOR
so far apart from all other MMOs. It is also the main reason why it has drawn so much attention and affection.
It must be understood, however, that SWTOR
is an MMO and so has all the trappings that burden the genre. Those hoping to find themselves playing a version of Knights of the Old Republic
will therefore be in for a bit of a shock, as they see other people running around doing the exact same quests. It also has the ‘grind’ when levelling up, quests that require the player to kill ‘x’ amount of things in exchange for a boost in experience points and perhaps some in-game money.
In addition to these traits, SWTOR
was designed to be played with other people from the get go, with developer BioWare’s thinking that if the game is a massively multiplayer experience, it should exploit that fact.
When first fired up, SWTOR
starts with a character creation session that requires the player to choose the faction they wish to be affiliated with and to then build the avatar that they will be controlling in the game. There are nine races to choose from; Human, Chiss, Cyborg, Miraluka, Mirialan, Sith Pureblood, Zabrak, Twi’lek and Rattataki.
Some of these races are restricted to one faction and some can only be certain classes. Four classes are initially offered with each class splitting into two specialties once the player reaches level 10, making the total number of classes on offer sixteen. These range from Bounty Hunter, Sith Warrior and Imperial Agent through to Smuggler, Jedi Knight and Consular.
There is a significant amount of customisation available in both character body shape and facial features. While it's a feature that's nice to have for most MMOs, it has little impact on the player as few people will ever get to see their character’s face close up. This is not the case with SWTOR
, however, as when a player collects a quest, nine times out of ten they will open a dialogue between the quest-giver and them.
At this point the camera view switches to a close up of the character’s face. Those familiar with BioWare’s other games will have encountered this before, so its presence in SWTOR
shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
This leads on to the abundance of voice acting in the game. Every non-player character (NPC) the player interacts with has a voice over. This is quite an achievement considering the fact that every class has their own branching storyline that is quest driven. Not to mention all of the side quests that can be completed along the way. This certainly adds much to the sense of immersion to the game and engages the player in their own personal adventure.