Friday, November 21, 2008

Star Wars : The Old Republic MMORPG

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?

1 comment:

  1. I think I'll start watching this one a bit more closely as it would appear to be the first really MMORPG since EQ. Yes, yes, some of you will say: "WoW is an MMORPG!" or "What about WoW?". The truth is, WoW is limited on most of the reputation areas. I remember playing EverQuest for the first time. I started playing shortly after Kunark was released. My first character you may ask? An Iksar Shadow Knight. Now for those of you unfamiliar with EQ, an Iksar is a lizard man. The Iksar race as a whole is known throughout Norrath for being completely evil in every way. Therefore, they are what we veteran EQ players like to call "KoS" to every other race in the game. And again, for those who don't know, KoS means: Killed on Site. Now, when I made that character, Danshir told me the above information about being KoS and such and I thought it would be a real challenge to my gaming abilities, so I shrugged my shoulders and started out in my home town of Cabalis. Many days and levels later, I find myself near the Wood Elf city of Kelethin in Greater Faydark. I target a guard from a safe distance and then proceed to see if he's hostile to me or not and at that time, he was. So I done some /ooc, (out of character), chat and found out that if I went and killed like 1000000000000 orcs, I'd be able to explore their tree city. So I done that. It took me a long time but I managed to change my reputation with a city/race that totally despises the Iksar people. And going by RPG standards, the guards and citizens of that city, judged me by my deeds instead of my heritage. On WoW you can't really do that. Yes, currently with the new expansion for WoW, the Horde and Alliance leaders are teaming up for an assault on the continent of Northrend where Arthas currently resides. Now something that confuses me is this: If the NPCs of opposite factions in WoW can speak to each other, why can't us players? Why can't I take my Night Elf Druid to the outskirts of Orgrimmar and proceed to kill things they don't like and eventually gain acceptance in their city? Why can I not become a "dark elf", one exiled from his homeland? There have been many times I have wanted to bring down my feral wrath upon a guards head for interfering with my kill, but am I able to do so? No, of course not! Blizzard wouldn't have it. But meh, that's my 2 cents on that subject area thing. If the Bioware MMORPG is as good as it's sounding, then Blizzard may lose yet another avid player.


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