Monday, July 1, 2013

When is Star Wars the Old Republic at its best? When it tries to be KOTOR 3.


Anybody who has played an MMORPG before has probably heard of the game Star Wars: The Old Republic. It was released at the end of 2011 and was supposed to take the MMO gaming world over by storm. Unfortunately for Bioware and EA, it never came close to doing that and today is a free to play game that manages to maintain a few hundred thousand monthly subscribers. This is a far cry from what EA imagined when they pumped millions into its development.

But I am not here to criticize the failures of SWTOR. In fact, I actually have fun with the game, mainly due to its dialogue and choice system that isn't present in any other MMO that I have played. Indeed, I actually like the game itself more than WoW and Guild Wars 2.

Unfortunately, that isn't really saying much because MMOs in general have all gone down hill as of late.

What I really want to talk about though is why SWTOR sometimes is able to transcend the mediocrity of the MMO world and actually seem like for a second that it is a full blown Bioware RPG.

During these moments, and they are few and far between, it feels like you are playing KOTOR 3 and not SWTOR. Knights of the Old Republic was Bioware's immensely successful role playing game released in 2003, and is to this day my favorite RPG.

It was followed up by a sequel in 2004 made by Obsidian. Since then, we've heard nothing about a KOTOR 3, until SWTOR, which is basically Bioware's way of concluding the story of Knights of the Old Republic.

SWTOR however is a vast step downward if you compare it directly to KOTOR or even KOTOR 2. It has less memorable characters, more cartoonish graphics, fewer significant choices, far more vapid companions, and to top it all off you are hindered by the fact that its an MMO, meaning you have to grind out levels and deal with thousands of other annoying people while playing.

There are moments when SWTOR shines though, such as when (spoilers ahead) you meet Revan, or search the Endar Spire, or deal with anything in the game that harkens back directly to something that happened in KOTOR or KOTOR 2. It is in these moments that SWTOR feels like KOTOR 3. You forget that it is an MMO. You forget the annoying people running around your character, stealing your quest items. For that single magnificent moment, you are back to the basics, back to the world Bioware originally crafted back in 2003. Away from EA, the Cartel Store, the grind of the online treadmill. For those few seconds of gameplay, it feels like you are playing another classic Bioware rpg.

When that feeling passes, and the moment dies, you are left in what can best be described as a sense of mourning. You wish that Bioware had created KOTOR 3, and not this doppelganger they developed under the direction of EA.

Don't get me wrong, SWTOR is by no means a bad game, especially for an MMO. But it's no KOTOR 3, and it never will be.

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