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SWTOR Review

Star Wars the Old Republic

Free to play MMORPG

Publisher: EA

Released: 2011


EA promised that Star Wars: The Old Republic was going to change the face of the MMO world and, for a short time at least, they were right. Millions of people jumped in to try out the beta – and in fact I believe they still hold some sort of record for that Thanksgiving weekend 2011 – and it had a promising start. Despite talks of 20 year plans, the user base of SWTOR began to drop off as the shine from the Star Wars IP started to rust and the developers were forced to radically alter the way their game worked for a free-to-play re-release.

Star Wars The Old Republic Gameplay - HD

If you have the hard drive space (nearly 30GB) and the computer to run it, you can plan a beautiful journey to a galaxy far, far away. The question is, is it worth it?

SWTOR Review - positives

It’s Star Wars – The Old Republic is more than a game based in the Star Wars universe – it’s a PART of the Star Wars universe. It’s more than just a chance to explore planets with a lightsabre in hand, it’s a chance to participate in the history of your favourite movie franchise. If you’re a fan of the films, the books and the cartoon series, you need to play The Old Republic.

It’s a Bioware Game – More than just Star Wars though, Star Wars The Old Republic is out and out a Bioware game. From the conversation wheel to the design of the characters, there’s something here that will appeal to fans of the Knights of the Old Republic games and to people who enjoyed Jade Empire, Dragon Age and even, to a certain extent, Mass Effect.

Star Wars The Old Republic review screen 1

See the Universe – The SWTOR looks fantastic and, whilst it doesn’t quite live up to TERA or Guild Wars 2, there’s never been a better way of seeing Star Wars on your PC. It can be a little heavy going – to the point where I think it could use a little more optimization – but for all intents and purposes this title is a looker.

SWTOR Review - Neutrals

There’s always a bigger fi- Maybe not… - If you don’t have the connection or hard drive space to download and install over 20GBs of data, you should give up on Star Wars The Old Republic right away. It’s a very big download and, if the rumours are true, most of that is dedicated to voice work. Some people won’t be phased by what will be, no doubt, a couple of hours download overnight or while they’re at work, but others will need to watch their monthly allowance and download speeds aren’t affected. Playing the game obviously just adds to connection usage.

Star Wars The Old Republic review screen 2

The Twenty Year Plan (And Galaxies) – There will always be a Star Wars MMO – it’s just too rich a lore to not take advantage of its potential. When The Old Republic was breaking records, developers seemed to think they could keep the game running for decades, but now that things have died down (a lot), I’d be a little hesitant to rely too much on new content. It’s coming, naturally, but I can’t help but think the scope of the DLC/expansions will have been significantly reduced. And remember, Star Wars Galaxies disappeared in a heartbeat – I can’t imagine EA will long support a dying star.

Star Wars The Old Republic review screen 3

SWTOR review - Negatives

The OLD Republic – For everything this game could have been, the end result is a little bit disappointing. After a while, the Star Wars IP will start to lose its edge and you’ll realize you’re just playing an MMO, similar to every other MMO from the last seven years. While titles like Guild Wars 2 and RaiderZ try to do something slightly different with the genre, Star Wars the Old Republic basks in the traditional MMORPG features. It’s a swansong for the old way of doing things, but it more often than not borders on generic.

Star Wars The Old Republic review screen 3

Free-to-Play – We’ve often complained about the way in which developers monetize their free-to-play games. Usually this is done from the beginning of the development process, with the designers actively making the game around the idea of the player buying additional items. With The Old Republic, it was all sort of stuck in at the last minute and it shows. Items can be very expensive (or free – if you subscribe), and you come to a point where you think EA and Bioware are punishing you for playing free. Given that they’ve basically been forced to do it, perhaps they are.

Star Wars The Old Republic review screen 4

SWTOR Review - The Verdict

The pre-free-to-play version of Star Wars The Old Republic was better than the current version. Before Guild Wars 2, before the reveal of The Elder Scrolls Online, before TERA and The Secret World and a host of other games that have since tried to add something to a stagnant genre. It was before the announcement of the new Star Wars movies as well, so fans didn’t have anything else to get excited by. It doesn’t help that the free-to-play seems like the equivalent of a graphics card super glued to the outside of a computer case. The base game is still fun, and it’s still worth playing, but this isn’t a game that’s going to change the MMO world, and it’s hardly a game still representative of a galaxy far, far away. That's all for this new review of Star Wars The Old Republic. Until next time...

Games like SWTOR

World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, The Secret World

By Mat Growcott

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