After 6 long years of of waiting, online gamers can finally rejoice. Star Wars;The Old Republic (SW;TOR) has arrived. Bioware spared no expense to create what they promised would be the ultimate Star Wars MMO (Massively Multi-player Online game) and players are hoping that the end results actually live up to the hype.
The official launch is scheduled for December 20th., 2011 but Bioware gave gamers a special Christmas present by offering up to 7 days of Early Access to anyone who pre-ordered the game when it went on sale, July 20th., 2011. Early access started on December 13th, 2011 and during the first 24 hours the demand was so high that Bioware was only able to invite players who pre-ordered the first day the game was on sale.
Bioware plans to invite players in waves from December 13th. until December 19th, giving everyone who pre-ordered an opportunity to get a head start over the legions of gamers who will join them on December 20th.; when SW;TOR starts its official run.
From all accounts, SW;TOR is on target for success. While exact figures are not yet available, Electronic Arts (EA) has said that the SW;TOR pre-order has broken all their sales records. Demand was so high that EA was forced to limit the total number copies available until the game is fully launched and stable.
“We are targeting Star Wars: The Old Republic to be one of the biggest launches of holiday 2011,” said BioWare’s Dr. Ray Muzyka in the announcement. “Our teams at BioWare and EA, along with our partners at LucasArts, are laser-focused on creating a high quality game, but just as importantly, they are resolute in delivering a high quality service. We are taking all of the necessary steps to make sure The Old Republic has a thriving community built on a stable online foundation from day one, including limiting supply at launch to ensure that players easily transition into the servers. So whether you’re waiting to join the Empire or the Republic, pre-order now to ensure you can enter the galaxy at launch!”
Now!!! Lets get to the nitty gritty. Is SW;TOR worth your time and a subscription fee of $14.99 a month? The answer is an unequivocal, YES. To put it simply, Star Wars; The Old Republic has finally brought the Star Wars universe to life for gamers. The game is solid, stable and exciting. It is fun to play from the moment you enter the game and create you first character. Playing SW;TOR is addictive; once you start, you wont want to stop.
Players must decide if their character will join the Sith Empire or The Republic. There are 4 main classes available for each faction. On the Empire side players can choose from Sith warrior, Sith Inquisitor, Bounty Hunter or Imperial Agent. Those who prefer the Republic may select among Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Smuggler or Trooper. When players complete their quests on their starting world, (around level 9 or 10) they will be able to further specialize their character by picking one of the two sub classes offered to each class. For example, Sith Inquisitors will be able to choose between Sith Assassin and Sith Sorcerer. A Republic Trooper may specialize either as a Vanguard or as a Commando. Each sub class unlocks a three tiered skill tree that offers new, highly potent skills that will allow a player to tweak a character to their hearts content.
One of the things that makes SW;TOR so enjoyable is that you start off the game feeling powerful. Unlike many games, where you have to wait forever to get decent skills, players will find themselves successfully soloing packs of 4 and 5 mobs from the very first level. The Star Wars Universe is supposed to be populated by almost invincible heroes or anti-heroes and SW;TOR lives up to the tradition.
As players advance through the game, they will follow a quest line that is specific to their class. Each one of these exciting quest lines unravels a story that will reveal much about who the player is, where the player is going and what the player may become. Filling in the blanks depends, to an extent, on the choices the player makes as he or she progresses towards the level cap of 50.
Early access is now in its third day and things are running like a well oiled machine. Server Crashes have been virtually non-existent and I personally have yet to experience any glitches or lag. The game looks great, sounds great and is free of major bugs.
After extensive conversations with many players the Port Nowhere server, we were only able to find two minor issues. There are still a few bugged resource nodes scattered around the various planets in the galaxy, most of which were also bugged in beta. The only other glitch is with the Guild Interface, which isnt updating the names of online guild members properly. Considering the size of this game and the millions of people who will be playing, it is remarkable that these are the only issues we could find in the game 3 days into launch.
There are a few items that Bioware has promised to address in the future such as User Interface customization, adding a combat log, color matching of player clothing and the ability to sort items by level on the in-game vendors. These are all matters of player convenience and not issues with the functioning of the game.
To put it all in a nutshell, Star Wars, The Old Republic is an outstanding game and the launch has been virtually flawless. Bioware and Electronic Arts can be proud of the effort that went into building this game. They have succeeded in bringing the never ending struggle between the Light Side and the Dark Side to life. SW;TOR is Star Wars as it is meant to be; exciting and mysterious with the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance. So grab your lightsaber. Strap on your blaster. Get ready for fun. Star Wars The Old Republic is here.
(Special thanks to the members of the Guild Star Forge on the Port Nowhere Server and to my good friend Ares, who took time out from leveling to patiently answer a barrage of questions. A tip of the hat also to unicron, mexy, ghodzilla, pharaoh and rinzler. The community is what makes online gaming so special and it is my pleasure to introduce some of them to my readers.)