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November 19th, 2011, 01:53
Oh you ARE kidding me! I've had this review hanging around for a month and a half and it's always had the good/bad/ugly format. This stealing of my thought patterns is NOT acceptable, Wolfing. Cease and desist immediately or I'll whine about it. Anyway, since your topic title works OK for my own review and since I've got it sitting in my clipboard from posting it elsewhere….

(Note: I wrote this for my City of Heroes friends, as you'll soon see.)

Let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way first. If you’re wondering whether this game is better than City of Heroes, stop wondering. SWTOR is pretty much a decade-old MMO smothered in a lot of BioWare goodness. CoH is, IMHO, the better game. Of course, I've played CoH to death so I still very much plan to play this one.

A quick disclaimer – I really concentrated on the single player aspect. The few “heroic” (read: group oriented) missions I did were done solo. I also stuck to the dark side the whole time, in anticipation of playing mostly on the light side come release. I never even thought about doing the PvP thing.

The Good

First of all, it’s STAR WARS! It looks like Star Wars, it sounds like Star Wars, it feels like Star Wars. There's fan service galore, including a smuggler power called 'shot first'.

It’s also BIOWARE! There are lots of very good stories in this MMO. When I was playing my sith Inquisitor, the story was clearly building up to a battle between my character and my master. Gee, what a shock. It finally built up to an epic showdown between upstart apprentice and evil establishment master then… well, let’s just say my faith in BioWare storytelling was fully restored. They foreshadowed what would happen quite well but still gave a shocking surprise. Even the quick little one-off quests are OK.

The art is really great stuff, particularly the landscapes. I’m not a big fan of the cartoony look at all but the artists did a super job with what textures and polygon limits they had. The music is also done very well.

There’s some exploration to do! They’ve got datachrons (little glowing boxes) scattered all over the planets in out of the way places. If you find one, it will give a small, permanent boost to your stats and an extra lore entry. Those things are NOT easy to find! Even when you do find them, they often aren’t easy to get to. I found them very enjoyable. I just hope people don’t spoil the fun by blabbing locations on the general chat channel.

There’s good variety in the classes. Not quite as good as City of Heroes (that slot system is simply amazing) but good enough to be fun.

The companions work well. I particularly like how you can send them off to do crafting for you while you do your adventuring.

The voice acting is extremely well done. Every once in a while it sounded compressed but that got rare as beta moved along. In fact, the voice acting was so well done that I think it completely ruined Two World 2 for me.

The Bad

Forget customization. There is some here and there but very little. To City of Heroes veterans, this can really be painful. Your choice in looks is small, lasers only shine in one of six colors, your powers have no choice in colors at all, your gear will mostly be dictated by stats (though there is a little wiggle room there) – hell, you can’t even pick what color your HUD should display. You can pick a few presets for companions but why not just let us into the character creation area to pick what we want?

The game is really easy in the mid-levels. One reason I didn’t group is because there didn’t seem to be much point in it. It would be like Darth Vader needing the emperor to help him take on a bunch of scared younglings. I’m hoping the instanced areas beef up at least a few of the encounters when part of a group. (Note: some nerfs came down recently that may help this problem.)

Asheron’s Call actually has a better interface. Seriously. All you can do is turn some pre-placed power bars on and off.

There’s not enough instancing, IMHO. They’ve done a pretty good job with spawn rates to keep you from standing in line a whole lot but standing in line AT ALL really disturbs me. It does seem to get better in later levels as instances get larger and more common.

The (no longer) Ugly

When you finish your first combat mission, you will have seen almost all the enemies you will ever see for the first 30 levels. There will always be the guy that shoots and the guy that runs up and hits you. Maybe the guy that runs up at you will be a big lizard instead of a twi’lek with a vibrosword but it really doesn’t change what tactics you will use.

On Alderaan there were some neat looking bug people. How do you think they attacked? A stinger that would paralyze you for a dozen seconds? Maybe an acid spray? Perhaps a chance to summon two or three smaller ant people? Nope. Most shoot you with blasters. Some of them run up and hit you with vibroswords. Honestly, it’s like fighting the Skulls through your entire career.

You do eventually see some variety. At first it’s just tiny status effects that come and go so fast you’ll be doing well to even notice they happened at all. Then you get some enemies that will actually heal each other. Then you start running into force users that will knock you around a bit and use holds that actually last long enough to notice. (And that’s about as far as I saw.)

What’s even more disturbing to me is that nobody else seemed to care in the forums. People EXPECT this!?

(Note: Yesterday's patch notes said there's more variety in enemies now, mostly in bosses and particularly in world bosses.)

(Note2: CONFIRMED! They have added tons of powers and abilities to the enemies! The game is actually challenging enough that you might even need to use a medpack instead of just selling it off! Shrunk the font of my Ugly because it no longer applies.)

So Anyway…

The game is all right. It's got a few good advancements to the genre but it's also walking backwards in other areas. The bottom line, though, is that I was very much looking forward to playing this game every night for a couple of months. And that was playing it as a solo game instead of having even more fun with friends. That makes it well worth the cash, IMHO. Buy, but I wouldn't recommend getting a full year's subscription.

P.S. Mako is teh hot. You can dress her up to look like Kate Archer, too. That's worth $20 right there.

P.P.S. Yep, the 3D does work quite well and NVIDIA hasn't even put a profile in for it yet. The interface even pops out of the screen slightly.
Last edited by Zloth; November 24th, 2011 at 02:30. Reason: no more Ugly!
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