KOTOR 3 – Reports from The Old Republic

Let’s ignore the utter clusterfuck that was ordering “Star Wars: The Old Republic” from Tesco Entertainment in the first place. I’m going to give my first impressions of the game itself and do not wish my fuming bitterness from having received my early access code just five hours before the games official launch to have any bearing on my opinions of this brand new, sexy and highly anticipated MMORPG. Neither am I going to let my numerous unanswered calls and emails of complaint and dissatisfaction taint my feelings towards Biowares online opus.

Bored customer services

"He's calling about that bastard game again, shall I put him on hold?"

I find it quite hard to not compare The Old Republic to its predecessor, Star Wars Galaxies, I’m not sure why, possibly because they are both online role-playing games set in the Star Wars universe. I enjoyed Galaxies, I know it had its critics and from what I can tell, after visiting briefly a couple of years after I had stopped playing, introducing the New Game Enhancements was a poor decision. However I have many fond memories of my time there, as well as many folders of screenshots, naturally when I am playing The Old Republic I often think back to how it compares to my time in Galaxies.

So anyway. here are my initial thoughts following 17 levels of game time.


A single player MMORPG

Bioware promised a lot with The Old Republic (TOR) and on paper it is a very ambitious title but can they really change the face of online role-playing games? So far, I’m not so sure.
The Old Republic is a solid game at the core and it is certainly refreshing to have a lot more depth to the quests rather than the usual drivel of “kill 10 raving sloths” or “deliver a crate of fish to the Mountie”. Don’t get me wrong, these tasks are still there but the above average writing gives the impression that there is a point to them. All in all the single player experience, so far at least, seems to be thorough and enjoyable. However in my eyes the implementation of the single player experience is where the potential problem lies.

So far playing TOR feels like you are playing a single player RPG that just happens to have other people in it, rather than being a true group experience. I thought Bioware had cracked it, had found a way of having the type of depth and choice that KOTOR did within a MMO world but this is not the case and in fact it can limit the online experience. You have group missions, repeatable ones seemingly designed to allow people to type LFG in the general chat channel but other than that it can be quite hard to team up with others for the full experience of a standard quest. Level and class restrictions mean that you have to be quite meticulous in the coordination of when to do quests otherwise you will just have people tagging along for the fights, unable to be involved in the story and conversations, standard for an MMORPG I know but it kind impacts on one of  TORs unique selling points.


Shrunken worlds, expanded life

The worlds, so far, are well realised, they look the part but they just don’t seems as vast as I would hope. This may change as I visit more places but currently I am lacking a sense of scale, I was hoping to trek across great landscapes, occasionally fighting wild beasts then making camp to tend to our weary e-bodies. But everything in TOR is very contained and compact, it can still take a while to travel from one side of a map to the other but the sense of huge just isn’t there. It’s also far too populated, you can’t find a place where there isn’t another player, enemy or NPC, it’s just too damn busy. In Galaxies you would leave a bustling town or outpost knowing you would actually be heading into the wild, it really felt like an expedition and you certainly had to be prepared. No such risk in TOR thanks to the convenient taxi ranks and quick travel posts dotted around the place.

Camping shot in Galaxies

Travelling in Galaxies formed bonds that would last a lifetime

Multiple personalities

It’s great to have a companion, someone to run errands for you, someone to cuddle up to in the corner of a cantina. What is not great is the pair of you running past another incarnation of your companion, either the original NPC you met before they joined you or as one of their many clones that appear to have latched onto other players. Why couldn’t they make you able to design the look of your companion as you would your own character? It seems like a simple solution to prevent these people spawning hundreds of copies of themselves across the galaxy. And while we’re on the subject of character design…


Fat Twi’leks

It is common knowledge that the best part of any RPG is designing your own character, I am sure I am not alone in spending many gleeful hours carefully adjusting my cheekbone height and forehead depth. So why have Bioware given us such lackluster character creation for TOR? There is no fine tuning, it is literally just presets, and sometimes presets with little sense. Why is there a setting for an extremely fat Twi’lek but humans only range from skinny to burly? Do humans in this galaxy have some kind of innate biological ability that prevents obesity?

fat Twi'lek Jedi

Who would have thought force-eating 140 bantha burgers could do this?


Choose your destiny

TOR is a difficult one to judge, there are plenty of other criticisms such as the restriction of some races to specific classes, why can’t I be a Twi’lek imperial agent? Or the fact that you have to choose an allegiance at the start of the game, whatever happened to making decisions as the game naturally evolves? But there are a lot of positives too such as the overall mechanics of the game, which are solid if not standard, and it certainly feels like Star Wars. The voice acting is generally superb and varied, in particular the imperial officers have the expected snide, yet well spoken British tone about them, although I’m not sure that the occasional Welsh accent I have come across really fits, but then I suppose Obi-Wan was Scottish in his younger years. It is good fun to play and the single player experience could be a possible match for KOTOR, I’m just still not sure the multiplayer aspect hasn’t suffered from this and when the time comes I’m still not convinced I’ll be willing to pay £8 a month to play an online single player game.

About velvetkloud
Game-whore and web-slut.

3 Responses to KOTOR 3 – Reports from The Old Republic

  1. Lunarwolf says:

    Tasty little review. I loaded this up (knowing you can be quite critical) ready to defend my beloved SWTOR to the hilt. You were quite fair though, so I have used my remote to steer the orbital weapons platform away from your house. Instead, if I may, I’ll give my £2′s worth on your raised points:

    “A Single Player MMORPG”: I agree with this up to a point, I think BW have pushed the SP aspect of it perhaps more than they should have, but it is linked in with their major selling point, that of ‘story’. Yes the game can, at times, feel like you’re playing your own single-player game that people keep “appearing” in, especially when the story line is ‘all about you’. The way I combat this however, is in being part of a Guild. In other words, building your own community and not waiting for BW to do it for you. People shouldn’t HAVE to be in a guild to feel the sense of community however, which is one of the ways the game (at these early stages) falls a little short to me.

    “Shrunken worlds, expanded life”: Interesting you should say this actually, because I feel the same. However, I have heard many people saying they feel the terrain and buildings are a little too large in scale, making their characters feel small and insignificant. Apparently (I’m not that far in the game yet) Tattoine and Hoth are meant to be pretty huge – to the extent you really need a mount to get around them – and perhaps thats why the game worlds seem small to you? You don’t get access to a mount until level 25, so presumably all the planets before that (on the empire side that is Hutta, Korriban, Drummond Kaas, Balmorra and Nar Shaddaa) can’t be TOO big otherwise it would become too cumbersome to navigate on foot. I found the space combat also added to the sense of scale, if you allow yourself to be immersed in it (and not just consider it a loading screen :P). One thing I will say though, since getting my STAP I’ve not found the game seems any smaller just because I can get around faster.

    “Multiple personalities”: I love the idea of Companions. I HATE the fact they all look alike. Even with the fact you can change their looks using their equipment or skin-packs its still very much “oh look, there’s Mako again” or “Oh, another Khem Val.” This is to be expected I suppose, it is Launch after all so billions of players will be spazzing about the place looking identical and carrying the same companions. When they were first announced prior to launch I foolishly got my hopes up thinking you would get to design them yourself or even rename them. Dumb old me, eh? Still at least you can get them to do your crafting for you or bitch-slap them so they bugger off and sell all your junk.

    “Fat Twi’leks”: If it helps, we all agree with you. Character customisation in TOR is SUCH A LET DOWN. Not only does it pale in comparison to SWG’s species selection, but they then rub our noses in it by having NPCs of the very species we wanted to play wandering around proving they actually can make the character models, rather than going “don’t blame us, its another limitation of the Hero Engine!” (the one they use for TOR). Instead they give us a fooking ‘cyborg’ species option?!? Cyborg is NOT a species people! Gah. And the body types? Do we REALLY need biffas running around but then not have the capability to have variable heights? However, this is just the launch, and this is an mmo, and it can all be upgraded…

    “Choose your destiny”: Its early days, but I think TOR will do fine. Even with all the limitations put in place its hard not to be excited about it if you’re a SW geek, because the level of writing and the thought they’ve put into a universe they themselves created (and Lucas has not had a chance to rape yet) is just amazing. The more I play of the game the more I get hooked but, like most things one is passionate about, I find more holes and things I would like to fix along the way. That said, this is an mmo, and one in its first months no less. What we are experiencing is the very first steps of SW:TOR. Being an mmo it will expand, evolve, add in new features (remember to keep moaning folks!), and its definately not going anywhere with the holy trinity of cash powerhouses of Lucasarts, Bioware and EA behind it. Its my hope that all the kids who flocked over from WoW will sod off soon, but then again WoW is on its last legs so where else can they go until Guild Wars 2 comes out?

    A couple of other points I’d like to add (don’t worry I’ll shut up soon….)

    “Lack of Role-playing Support”: According to BioWare, RP’ers make up a solid 20% of their account base, far higher than any other AAA mmorpg to date. Why then is there zero support for in-game roleplaying? simple things like you can’t lie down, no chairs (except the ones on your spaceship) are usable, no freaking CHAT BUBBLES (so nobody knows who is talking to who) are just not present. Instead we get so many emotes we forget to use them. To compare with SWG again, they had some amazing little features like chat bubbles that indicated whether your character was talking, shouting or thinking and you could even purchase “role-playing props” to fill areas you want to roleplay in with all kinds of goodies. Don’t get me wrong, I know most people aren’t role-players, but for those of us who are we expected a lot more from a company renowned for its RPGs. Again, its early days though.

    “Slottable Items”: Oh. My. Fecking. God, this is a fantastic idea! Basically, for those who have not come across them yet (and you will by your first Flashpoint), you can get ‘orange’ items which can have ‘slots’ that can be filled with enhancements, meaning you can upgrade them as you go along, rather than just using them until something else comes along and just selling them. Why is this good? well a few reasons. Firstly if you are a crafter you can make items that get better as you level up, meaning you can keep ugrading your equipment. Secondly, if you really like the item and how it looks you can remove the enhancements and replace it with better ones. Because all orange items have the same base statistics, its only what you put in them that makes a difference. In other words you can keep an item if you like the look of it because it will be just as good at level 50 as any level 50 items (so long as you remember to upgrade it) but it will still look identical to when you got it at level 12 or whatever. This means that by end-game people will look different not only because of the gear they grind but also because some will have chosen to keep favourite items along the way.

    A great review, VK. I give you +10 points for its excellence, but deduct -11 because you called it KOTOR 3. Its not KOTOR 3, even Bioware have said that :P

  2. velvetkloud says:

    Oh it’s definately not KOTOR 3, but let’s face it, it is really isn’t it! As much as Bioware insist otherwise this is a multiplayer KOTOR game.

    Good points though, you have highlighted other things that had also been bothering me so I’m in complete agreement. Role-players are not catered for at all, Galaxies gave a real sense of this with, as you say, speech bubbles, homes, guilds owning areas of land, more interactible objects etc. Why the hell can’t I go to a cantina and sit down for the love of hell? I think the impact of this is very apparent, we are all on an RP server and yet it certainly doesn’t feel like it and I’m not sure it will unless these issues are addressed, the chat in particular.

    Yes the game will expand and develop over time, none the less there is still a monthly cost and, unless there are some significant changes or the game changes radically as I reach higher levels, it is still primarily a single player game. I don’t believe being part of a guild will resolve this and besides I want to play through with my friends and it’s stupidly difficult at times to achieve this.
    We could pick faults and suggest potential improvements all day but TOR is actually a good game, just not a great game and not really what I was expecting. The fact remains that I could buy a new game every couple of months for the cost of continuing with TOR, I will keep playing during my free month and then decide what to do long term. If it comes down to it I may count my losses and wait for Guild Wars 2.

  3. Lunarwolf says:

    *nods*

    I’ll be sticking with TOR, and not just because I co-run a guild in it. Before this came along I had subscriptions to WoW, Lord of the Rings online, Eve and STO and have cancelled all of them saving me about £30 a month, so replacing that with £9 is more than worth it for me.

    That and nothing I have seen of GW2 – on the interwebz or my time at Eurogamer – have convinced me it is as revolutionary as people are hyping it to be either.

    Sure, TOR has let me down in some ways but seeing as it has been hyped for 3 years thats hardly surprising. Its still far better than any other mmorpg on the market for me personally, and for that reason I’m-a-staying!

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