Sunday, 15 April 2012

A second look at the Old Republic

My Sith Warrior in TOR is now at level 22, so I guess now is a decent time to look at why I am still playing. There are a few things that TOR does that makes it stand out compare to the dozens of other mmo’s I have, erm disliked. The companion system is an odd idea, and I was initially quite skeptical about it, however having the companion means you can happily take on big groups of enemies, thus making you feel awesome and I have actually become fond of her. Every time an opportunity to win her approval arises I can't help but take it. On a side note the fact that she is a hot twi'lek certainly doesn't hurt.

That brings me to my favourite thing about TOR, the quests. I am a Sith warrior, but I am a nice (light side) evil Sith. However I am playing with my wife who is a evil sith (and also plays one in the game). What I love is that Bioware haven't pulled any punches about the Empire quests, they are on the whole despicable and thoroughly malevolent. It is very refreshing to be honest about being the bad guys, even if I am trying to be good. This has lead to some very interesting conversation rolls (if you are in a group, you roll to see who gets to lead the conversation), so sometimes if I lose a roll, the truly evil approach is taken, instead of the pretty evil option. In one case we were given the option of poisoning the rebel scum (sorry force of habit) so they die a slow, painful, lingering death, or eliminate them quickly. I lost that roll, so we poisoned them, and I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty over that.

The combat itself still hasn't deviated vastly from the expected mmo norm, however it is fast, fluid and quite satisfying. I certainly would have like to have seen a bit more innovation, and somethings don't quite make sense  (how exactly does a light-saber attack cause a bleeding effect?). But I get why they have stuck closely to the traditional approach and I can't really dislike Bioware for that. On a side note the space battles, despite being pretty simple and shallow, are a nice occasional distraction.

Also graphics wise the look of the game has really grown on me, with some of the more open areas looking stunning. The ascetic seems to be very faithful to the universe with the Empire cities being very hard and metallic, with fascistic banners hanging.

So criticisms then? Well to be honest I only really have one, but it is a pretty frickin big one. The server I am on, the only European role play server, is ridiculously quite. It is not uncommon to go for hours without seeing another player, chat is also really quiet. We actually had to go hunting for a guild to join. Quite early on we wanted to do a 4 man quest, so we needed 2 more people. We broadcast for help and the only response we got was a message that nobody bothered with the group quests. The majority of the time you will find yourself playing by yourself, whether you want to or not. I am not sure if this is not partly Bioware’s fault, making the game play very much like a single player game. EA are going to need to take steps to sort this out quickly, or I can see the player base decline pretty rapidly.

Oh and one more thing I like, there are loads of fat npc’s in the game. Nothing is more amusing than a tubby Sith. Seems that no matter the problems in the universe of the old republic, there is certainly not a shortage of pies.

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