Friday, November 21, 2008
Yeah, that's right. Prepare for Biowares latest use of their Star Wars IP. Tired of watching Blizzard, NCsoft, and Sony cashing in on the MMORPG piggy bank, one of the giants of story telling has decide to step into the online ring. While Bioware has a rock solid reputation for giving some of the best games for our noggin, can they handle the additional pressure of dealing with an online community? Can they deliver on a promise that, if true, could topple the current king, World of Warcraft?
In case you've been living in a cave and systematically blinded yourself, The Old Republic is a storyline Bioware created for their successful Xbox series, Knights of the Old Republic. The timeline for these games are thousands of years prior to the movies, which really left Bioware free reign when it came to story. This is a time when the Jedi are a dime a dozen, as are their foes the Sith. To any hardcore Star wars fan, this is before the Sith rule of there only being two Sith at any given time. I won't go into the storyline of KOTOR I and II, but they are well worth getting into if you like RPGs. If you are familiar with it, the MMORPG of The Old Republic is three hundred years after the last game. So while it will more then likely contain nods to the previous games, enough time has passed for it to be fresh.
While a lot of people are quite unhappy with the graphics, I'm very pleased with the results that Bioware has taken so far, especially considering the game is still in early Alpha stages. While a lot of fans are foolishly wanting photo realistic graphics, it's simply not the way to go if you want any hope of getting a gargantuan playerbase. Hardcore gamers aside, the majority of MMORPG players want a game that runs smoothly. Given the average MMORPG's computer isn't some $3000 machine, keeping the graphics more " animated " is just good business sense. World of Warcraft has a very cartoon like art style, yet it seems to dominate over the more graphical powerhouses. If you're still complaining, please keep in mind these pictures are taken from the ALPHA stages, so expect improvements and changes.
However, the thing that Bioware claims that its MMORPG will deliver is truly the more epic and unique take on the genre. There will be a story. Ok, let me give some clarity here. While other MMORPG's have a story, the players really can't change anything despite interacting with it. No matter how many times you've defeated Thermaplugg in Gnomeregan, the gnomes are still being freeloaders in Ironforge. However, Bioware claims...
" Star Wars: The Old Republic will be similar to other MMOs but with several key innovations. Traditionally MMOs are built on three pillars; Exploration, Combat, and Progression. We at BioWare and LucasArts believe there is a fourth pillar: Story. Our mission is to create the best story-driven games in the world. We believe that the compelling, interactive story lines in Star Wars: The Old Republic are a significant innovation to MMOs and will offer an entertainment experience unlike any other "
So what does this mean? By the wording of this and other information on their website, your character will have his own story, and the actions you take will actually affect you. While you pick between the two factions, The Republic or the Sith Empire (Horde and Alliance anyone?), actions your character takes will shift your allegiance. So you could start out as a Jedi Knight then shift over to the Dark side. These kind of behaviors are exactly what I was talking about in an earlier post about the lack of reasons given to MMORPG players to roleplay. If they live up to this promise, I foresee The Old Republic to be the first ACTUAL Rpg among the other MMO games.
So far, Star Wars The Old Republic has decent graphics that seem to be able to run on most machines, an almost guarantee on a great soundtrack ( It's Star Wars...), and being ran by a company known for their interactive storyline prowess. While it seems a combination for the perfect game, there are other elements to consider. The online community itself might tarnish the title into it's own destruction. With such a powerful following, one small flaw might turn away the fanatical fanbase of Star Wars, and that's pretty scary. Also, other issues such as class balancing, Player vs Player content, and other online issues are untraveled horizons for Bioware. So until then, we can only wait, and hope that the final product will live up to our expectations.
Or exceed them?
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