Thread: Video Games Star Wars: The Old Republic
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Old 06-03-2009, 01:16 PM   #46
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E3 2009: Star Wars: The Old Republic Preview

By Ryan Scott | Jun 2, 2009

We get a first-hand walkthrough of BioWare's upcoming Star Wars MMO.

Spiffy: An actual fun Star Wars online role-playing game; action that looks like it amounts to more than passive math.

Iffy:It's got a hell of a competitor in World of Warcraft; can't get here fast enough.

BioWare's epic third Knights of the Old Republic game -- this one a massively multiplayer online RPG -- takes players to a time roughly 4,000 years before George Lucas' dual film trilogy (and 300 years past the previous KotOR games). Republic forces tangle with the evil Sith Empire, and players choose sides in the mounting civil war. BioWare alleges unique story paths for each character class, with zero repeated content between Republic and Imperial character archetypes.

What's New for E3?

Besides one of the most beautiful cinematic trailers I've ever seen -- which depicts Sith forces infiltrating a Jedi temple and laying waste to the place before general hell breaks loose -- The Old Republic looks like the real deal. This is the first time anyone's seen it in action, and the push toward non-photorealistic art (senior producer Dallas Dickinson describes TOR's look as "stylized realism") means a scalability-minded developer who thought twice about relegating the game to Age of Conan hell.

The mantra: Story drives choice, and choice drives action. After a brief demonstration of the previously revealed Bounty Hunter class (a ranged terror who packs everything from grenades to wrist-mounted flamethrowers) and the just-in-for E3 Smuggler (an opportunist who makes shrewd use of cover terrain, and resorts to dirty kick-in-the-balls tactics when fighting up-close), Dickinson treated the audience to a show of the series' trademark ethical dilemmas -- sans save button.

A player-driven Dark Jedi (one that the developers were hesitant to definitively identify as such) commandeered a mid-transit ship, on orders to kill its treasonous captain. The choice was ours: permanently relieve him from duty, or show him our soft side? The jaded collective of critics chose the former, which resulted in a display of lightsaber-powered violence that quickly coerced the crew to his side. Chaos ensued, driving said Sith (named -- amusingly enough -- Darth Awesome) and his Bounty Hunter pal into an impromptu defense against invading Jedi. The expected hotbar of MMO moves guided the combat, though slick speed bursts, blaster bolt blockage, and flat-out badass lightsaber duels (which haven't looked this good since the movies themselves) afforded TOR a flair not often glimpsed in this me-too genre. As the Jedi fell, the victorious Sith snatched his prey's lightsaber, and immediately lit it up for dual-saber action.

If I were Star Wars Galaxies, I'd just go ahead and throw myself off the Cloud City catwalk.
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