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Default SW:TOR. The good, the bad, the good

November 19th, 2011, 00:50
So, NDA for TOR is lifted finally.
I've been in beta for hmm… 3 months already?
So, in a few words, I love it!
Someone else will probably post a more complete review (and I'm sure you can read many reviews around), so I'll just summarize my experiences from beginning to end.
- Beginning: Character creation:
Those who love character customization, don't look here. There are 2 sides (Sith and Republic), each side with 4 mirror classes (i.e. Jedi Consular is basically the same as Sith Inquisitor with different animations for the attacks). Male and female (obviously) options, each with I think 4 'race' options (I don't consider cyborg a race but whatever). The only difference between a race and another is just appearance, and a social ability (non-combat). As far as appearance, you have 4 body types, some options for hair, scars, etc, but don't expect a City of Heroes customization system.
At level 10 you get to choose your specialization, so there really are 8 different classes gameplay wise. Each specialization has 3 skill trees to improve advance (you get 1 skill point per level from 10, so 31 skill points to distribute) making some differentiation even for two people of the same specialization (but not too much)
-Initial gameplay:
If you like action and different combat systems, don't look here. This is basically WoW in Star Wars. Click abilities, use mana or energy, wait for cooldowns, etc. Nothing revolutionary there.
-Continued gameplay:
This is where the game shines. First, at about level 5 or so you get your first companion. They fight beside you like in KotoR or Mass Effect, and they have different abilities and even their own mini-storylines. They complement your abilities, and after a while you'll have up to 5 or 6 different companions that can fill needed roles as you see fit (say you're in a group with 2 tanks and you're DPS, someone pulls their healing companion and group is set). You can only have one companion with you at a time.
Speaking of storylines. This is what sets this game apart. Each class has a different story (and they're really well done). All the way from 1 to 50 you'll be following your character from a nobody to an epic finale, with cutscenes and decisions.
What's not so great is that your quest line is about 30% I think of your experience, the rest are the shared quests, flashpoints (explained later), heroic missions, exploration, etc. You'll play them as a Jedi Knight, and when you play a new character as a Smuggler, you'll be doing them again. Only variation is that your responses can be 'light side', neutral or 'evil' (and for smugglers/imperial agents you usually have an extra option to flirt your way around things). So you can be a good Bounty Hunter and these quests will have different speeches when you play a bad Sith Warrior (though their outcome is pretty much the same), just different flavor.
Max level is 50. You should be able to reach this in about 100-150 hours per character I think, obviously depends on how much of the time you're just counting the pixels of your screen, but I think that's what it took me in the char I took to 50.
-Multiplayer gameplay:
Groups are made of up to 4 characters (that includes companions). There are heroic quests which are basically normal quests with stronger enemies. But, there's also the Flashpoints…
This is another area where the game shines. Flashpoints. The most awesome gameplay experience I've had. Basically, these are long quests (take about 1 hour to complete) done with 4 people (usually), with lots of conversations in which decisions and responses are decided randomly by different members of the group. For example, at some point you may find 10 enemy mobs inside an airlock threatening 10 scientists. A decision would popup to a) save the scientists and fight the mobs (light) or b) open the airlock and let them all die (dark). You may decide option (a), but a roll is made, whoever has the highest roll actually makes the decision (though for your personal effects, you get light or dark points depending on what you decided). This makes it so each time you play the flashpoint, you can have a wildly different experience depending on party composition and who wins what decisions… I love flashpoints.
-PvP:
No comment, as I don't PvP.
-Crafting:
Basically standard MMO here, just gather components, click and craft. Nothing too fancy like in Star Wars Galaxies or Everquest 2. Still, there is a twist, in which you are not the one who crafts, your companions are, so you can send them to do the crafting while you're adventuring or either offline.
-3d vision:
Ok so this won't affect many people, but I LOVE IT! it works fine for this game. I've also played Skyrim with 3d vision and it's not nearly as good IMHO.

Final comments:
I like the game. Combat system is nothing new, but following the stories of each class will be enough to make me play the game for some 8 months or so (calcuguessing about a month per char).
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