Why You Should Play - Star Wars: The Old Republic
This is the first of a series that we will be running on Pixel Judge - depending on its popularity it will come more or less frequently - so be sure to share your comments below saying how much you loved or hated it.
He is of low birth, and his intelligence reflects it.
The first title that Why You Should Play (WYSP) will be covering is Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). Now a failed MMO turned Free-to-Play (F2P), SWTOR launched with a great many of promises and initially promised great success. Having peaked at around 2 million active subscribers according to EA back in February 2012, this number dropped sharply down to less than 1 million by July 2012 after most users’ free trials had run out. At this point EA announced they would be adding a F2P option.
So then, why should you play SWTOR? Well for one thing there is never any harm in trying a F2P game. Worst case scenario? You get to try a new game and if you dislike it, you haven’t paid a cent. Best case scenario, you find a new game to dig deeply into and fall in love with. The advantages of trying a F2P aside, SWTOR comes down to one moment that I would like to use to demonstrate just why the game is well worth trying.
It is because of moments like this that really make you, as a gamer, appreciate what high quality story content can do for an MMO. Having played the majority of known (and even unknown) MMO titles out there, I can honestly say that none of them even come close to the story content that is found in SWTOR. If not for its gameplay and overall game design, SWTOR could easily be confused for a single-player RPG. I often viewed SWTOR as a co-operative RPG rather than an MMO, as it is actually best played with a friend so you can laugh at the hilarious story moments together and really experience the best that RPG games have to offer in terms of multiplayer fun.
A beautifully delivered moment - obtaining your first lightsaber really feels like an achievement.
That being said, if you view SWTOR as an MMO, then it falters in many aspects. The antiquated server design is perhaps one of its biggest downfalls, which helped lead to its failure. The developer’s decision to stick to many of the classic MMO design choices was perhaps not the best. However, we are not here to discuss the many ways in which this game has failed, we are here to discuss the reasons why it is still worth trying.
MMOs are often limited in graphics and animations, and indeed most people do not see SWTOR’s graphics as being among the greatest, but its style and design does have something to it that just makes you admire the scale of everything. Big temples look and feel like big temples and lightsaber, as well as blaster effects, have not looked this good since Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2. The animations department is where SWTOR does managed to innovate--there are very few MMOs out there that have dynamic and multi-character reactive/interactive animations. Meaning: usually if you do a basic attack or an ability it will have a preferred animation and the hit-effect is always the same thing (mostly just consisting of the enemy going “ugh” and doing some lame hit animation). In that case it does not matter if it was a parry, dodge, hit or critical hit; they all have almost the same animation.
This is not the case in SWTOR. Here, you can see detailed animations that react completely to what is happening. You can see actual deflection of blaster and lightsaber hits, parries, etc. All of that neat stuff is clearly differentiated when it comes to animation. This is most unusual for MMO titles and to this day as only one or two other MMOs have done something similar. Even the latest hit MMO Guild Wars 2 does not have dynamic reactive animations. It obviously comes down to personal tastes and preferences as to the kind of animations you prefer, but for me SWTOR has the best animations of all MMOs out there due to its detail and dynamics.
Detailed level design and amazing dynamic animations – all in all impressive for an MMO to say the least!
You do not have to take my word alone for it. Our staff member Apollo had some stuff to say about SWTOR as well. As I previously mentioned, SWTOR has a really strong story element. Apollo really loved how much new Star Wars lore the title provides for fans. In addition, Apollo also explained how each class has its own story arc and is well worth playing through at least once. The music also plays a big role in the title and Apollo loved the orchestral score that it features. The last reason Apollo gave as to why you should play SWTOR was its focus on small-group cooperation. Few MMOs feature such a focus on small groups, and as such, the story interaction and questing with friends becomes a very intimate experience. As a result of which, playing with friends makes this game go from scripted and predictable to exciting and memorable...
Most of you who read this article will have hopefully played what is arguably one of the best RPG games of all times: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. If you have, and you loved it, then the story and social experience that SWTOR provides make it entirely worth trying. After all, it’s free!