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back to article Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Old Republic is a massive game with hundreds of hours of game play, so this review is just a chicken scratch on the surface of something we will see develop and grow over months, if not years. Undoubtedly, SWTOR has a solid foundation but does it have enough successful constituent parts to be enduring? Star Wars …

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Mushroom

Great another MMO...

To keep those WoW junkies off the streets and on the dole!

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Maybe I'm just old :(

Read the review to see if it was a suitable game for my kids but utterly failed to understand it.

"The class system will be recognisable conforming to the Ranged, Tank, Healer and overpowered force lighting broker. Alas, no dual spec either."

Is this supposed to mean something?

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Alien

Standard mmorpg classing.

You have your 3 standard Types and then your subclasses branched off that.

Generally you go Type >> Race >> Class. Type is usually Tank, Damager and Healer then you add your racial subtypes that give bonuses towards each type and then choose your class after that. Your choice of Type and Race restricts your choice of Class.

In this case you have Ranged (stand back and shoot from a distance. Often combined as a support role), Tank (go head first in and soak up the damage, while dealing pretty good damage. These are the long haul fighters built for stamina), Healer (keeps everyone else in the game) and Force Lightning Damager (the aim is to take down your opponent as quickly as possible so you don't get hit).

Usually you want at least one of each, so the tank takes all the aggro, the healer keeps the tank alive, the support guy buffs everyone elses stats while damager rips into the enemy as fast as possible.

If you still don't understand any of that then you've obviously only ever played COD:MW type FPSs online, as it's been standard in any role playing game since the days of Gary Gygax.

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Not just MMO

These are essentially RPG archetypes and not restricted to online roleplaying. To put things into Dungeons and Dragons terminology, you have Fighter (Tank); Cleric (Healer); Thief (Ranged) and Wizard (Force Lightning Damage).

There are all sorts of combinations that mix and match the above archetypes, and plenty of options for someone in one of the above roles to play a different role in the party, but ultimately a balanced party in any RPG fares better when all of the above roles are met in one way or another.

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Happy

3 types

There are only 3 roles in this and other MMOs. They are often referred to as "the holy trinity"

1)Tank - Damage Soaker who stops big bad guys hitting the DPS and Healer.

2)DPS - Damage Dealers

3)Healer - Who, er, heals.

That is it. There is no ranged type. There is no force lightning type.

In this game you have ranged and melee tanks. I personally play as a healer. My healer is a Sith Sorcer who chucks lightning around*. He is still just a healer.

*If you only knew the POWER of the dark side.

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Go

Yes you are..

a noob.. Fortunately age is no barrier, so you should immediately purchase a copy of World of Warcraft, become hopelessly addicted to online gaming in order to learn the required terminology.

To answer your question, most online games have mature language filters but nothing will prevent someone from teaching your kids how to disable it. Games like these are filled with people aged 10-99, with a range of personalities to match. So suitable for kids? Yes, but not under the age of 10 or 11 and not without supervision.

What some people do is play the game themselves for a while, join a family-friendly group of friends (usually called a "guild" or something similar) and then let the kids take over the account. Most guilds have their own website, and will let you know if they are family friendly, therefore limiting language and behaviour to social norms.

There maybe some PG-13 sexual inuendo, but unless the game is rated Mature (M) there will be no nudity. It's a Star Wars game so there will be violence at about PG / PG-13 level shown in the game, including blood.

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Silver badge

Indeed

Is it too much to ask to have a review in a mainstream website written in plain English and not mmorph gibberish?

I shouldn't have to lurk on a WoW forum for a year just to read an article.

What's next - txt speak?

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Anonymous Coward

@Spudbynight

'There are only 3 roles in this and other MMOs. They are often referred to as "the holy trinity"'

Not all MMOs. Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) has a very flexible class / race / progression system, you are not restricted to the "holy trinity". Clerics are very powerful offensive casters in their own right, Favored Souls can be very good in melee as well as healing. Playing a nanny bot healer gets old very fast and luckily as you get better you are not restricted to that role. You can build a wizard or sorcerer to be an effective aggro magnet, or make your bard melee, casting or healing focused, etc. etc. One-trick ponies are often spurned, and a certain flexibility is usually expected, so you can fill more than one role as the situation requires.

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Anonymous Coward

I hope your right...

... about Bioware knowing what they need to do to keep the stories and content going and engaging. I've hit lvl25 and already I'm feeling like there is nothing more to see, but then I keep reminding myself that WoW was like this in it's early days and I've been spoiled by it's 7 year development which gives a player a lot of diversity.

I do love the storyline quests though, they are definately one of the main USPs for the game.

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Alien

£45 upfront AND a monthly fee? That's me out then, if there's a monthly fee involved I'm not spending £45 upfront to find out it's not my style of game. One or the other, but not both. That's what I like about DC Universe on the PS3, it's free to download and then upto you if you want to pay for the extra bits. As a result they get a monthly subscription from me as the free version is just restricted enough to show what you're missing and get you hooked in.

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Shame they didn't do like the Lord of the Rings game, free to download and play, with a few restrictions.

You can still subscribe. which lifts all the restrictions, or instead buy small items to remove specific restrictions, without the need to subscribe (such as increase your inventory size). Apparently their revenue increased massively after switching to this optional subscription model.

£45 is way too much for something I might get bored of after a month.

If it was the normal PC game price, say £25-30 which inc 1 month subscription, then I might have tried it.

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Trollface

LOTRO started off the same but eventually went "free to play unless you want to do something properly then you have to pay" after 2 years. I predict SWTOR will go this route eventually, but this is the initial release so they can cash in on the fanbois (myself included) who want to play it NOW!!!

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@Alien8N

"That's what I like about DC Universe on the PS3, it's free to download and then upto you if you want to pay for the extra bits"

At launch, you had to pay for DC Universe - the game was the standard price and you got one month playing time. About a year ago, Sony cut monthly subscriptions for all its MMOs by quite a bit (25%?), but that obviously didn't work and DC Universe moved to a free-to-play model.

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Alien

My main point is £45 upfront is just far too much, when there's so much else out there that you can dip into and then make your own choice as to whether to pay. They'd be better off going for £20 to £30 with a month free, because I'm damned if I'm going to spend £45 and then find out it's not for me. Not every MMO is for everyone, I really liked the look of Eve, appears to be much closer to my favourite gaming style, but when I actually played it I found it was just far too boring. So either they do a trial, or bring the price down. I'll give it a try when they start doing the 1 month free :)

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What about Australia?

No official release date yet, website won't even take our money despite the fact that everyone in OZ is used to playing MMO's with crappy ping times from US or EU servers.

Thank God for the grey market!

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Anonymous Coward

You forgot to mention server downtime for maintainence. Every Tuesday till 5pm GMT so if you're a student or whatever you lose half a day playtime every week (though it was 10am Tuesday just gone).

Empire heavily outnumber Republic something like 3:1 and certain classes are brokenly over-powered able to dish out over 500k damage in one warground without dying once, mainly imp's.

Mirror classes are not mirrored with republic being kicked in the teeth (their abilities don't mirror imp abilities or if they do they have a longer CD or different effect).

All in all the PVP is unbalanced in favour of the "bad guys", heavily so, and lets face it on a PVP server that's the reason you join.

Until they sort out the major issue of screwing EU players out of 1 day playtime a week when the yanks are asleep and sort out the PVP so that mirror classes actually, you know, MIRROR, I'd give the game 1/10. Sort out the issues to make PVP even and stagger the downtime putting EU servers down at around 4am in the morning and the rating will go up to 9/10

PS stop being Sith, Sith are carebears :P

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I'm perfectly happy with downtime being from 8am till 4pm/5pm, I'm at work then. But if they took the servers down at 4am I'd be pissed coz I'm still playing at that time! Admitedly I might get more sleep. :p

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Anonymous Coward

Ok, it's affect you...... but if you go 1 time zone ahead (France, Germany) you get downtime till 6pm, add another hour (Russia err, others) you're getting downtime till 7pm, though the last but one Tuesday the downtime was extended so people in Russia couldn't start playing till about midnight. AFAIK the servers for the EU are in Ireland (tax break!) so there is no physical reason why they can't switch the servers off during reasonable hours.

Not one review has mentioned this though.

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Anonymous Coward

If you got balance problems I feel bad for you son

I got 99 problems but the Sith ain't one.

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Lots of immature kids?

Maybe its because I've come from the very dificult (and because of this, adult orientated) Eve-Online but it seems to me that the chat is full of little, immature kids that instead of helping out by answering your question feel the need to insult you or just lie. It is ruining it for me sadly from an otherwise superb game.

So, I now avoid asking anything in "General" and instead ask in "Google".

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Silver badge

Seems the same to me but then I come from EVE too so maybe it's just us. General chat reminds me of Local in a system with Goons, although not as rude, profane or disgusting.

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I wonder....

I remember the days! If only it didn't need sooo much time to play, I'd still be playing with the same character name as I use to post this. Love the game to bits, bloody real life!

if WoW has as many immature muppets playing it?

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FAIL

No thank you, I'll stick to Runes of Magic

Runes of Magic isn't a perfect game, but at least it doesn't have any cinematics. I don't like games that consist of cinematic after cinematic. . A few months back I saw an interview with one of the developers and it is clear that he wanted the game experience to be like being in a film; if I want to watch a film, I'll pop a DVD into the player, thank you very much.

And the subscription price! I could subscribe to Dofus for an entire year for the price of the game alone. For such a mediocre sounding game, I can't imagine how Bioware justifies the price. I suppose someone has to take Star Wars fans for all they can.

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IT Angle

Reviewer is not really very bright, is she...

Call this a shot in the dark but perhaps the reason there are no pet classes is because *EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER* is effectively a pet class. Let's see what a pet class would be like:

* A main character providing the majority of the role be it tank, support, damage, etc - check.

* An AI controlled companion of some sort - check

* ....who can be controlled by a series of mode settings - check

* ....with a range of activatable abilities that can be set on automatic - check

The reason you don't have a "pet class", as you put it, is because trying to manage 2 separate AI controlled characters simultaneously would be a nightmare, in addition to being grossly overpowered in PVP.

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Anonymous Coward

@Thomas4

I woudn't say not bright, just a lousy reviewer - the Dark Meadow one was a corker - http://www.reghardware.com/2011/12/14/igamer_dark_meadow_ios_game_review/ For some reason, it took a week for my comment to be accepted.

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I was hoping for some more rational comment on El Reg about this but no it's the same kiddie whines here as in the official forums.

Yes it's a new game so you will have to pay money up front., that includes the first 30 days.

Yes it's a new & popular MMO so you will have to pay a monthly fee.

It's an MMO so the servers will go down for patching, and no matter what time they choose it will inconvenience someone. So night time East Coast USA, working/school day Europe is probably the best case option.

People seem to forget it hasn't even been out a month yet

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It's still very expensive though

£45 for the game and one month's play time (£8-9 depending on how much you buy in advance). I don't remember paying over £20 for DAoC or WoW (at a time when PC games actually cost more) and both of those also included the first month free, and then there was Eve and CoH where the base game was free.

On the down time - my understanding was that they had US and Euro servers ? if this is the case then having Euro servers going down for maintenance at the same time as the US ones just smacks of poor management and laziness at a higher level. Was never an issue in the other regional-server games I've played.

As for me I just don't have the time at the moment to start another MMO, but once the price comes down (as it must surely do) in probably 6-12 months time, then I might be able to give it a try.

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WTF?

Well when you started DAOC you didn't have an installation that contained 18gigs of material! I played DAOC from the start and the initial price was about £25 so if you take Game price inflation into account over a 10 year period (yes DAOC is 10 years old!) £45 is about right (note I talk about GAME price inflation not normal inflation)

Game downtime, meh its usual, get over it.

If you aren't playing why the HELL are you whining?

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jai
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thoroughly enjoyed it

Played the beta and loved the game. Really wanted to get the full version.

Sadly, lack of spare time means I had to cancel the pre-order. Just can't find the 3 or 4 hours a week at least I'd want to allocate to playing this.

If they get an OS X version made and released, then I might consider it, that'll at least save the pain in the neck of rebooting into bootcamp each time i want to play it.

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FAIL

£45?

No. PC games cost no more than £30 to purchase. Blockbuster, AAA, release day: £30.

If I have to pay a subscription too? £15 max, or you'd best include more than a month of game time.

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Devil

£5 to preorder

This was the most outrageous thing for me. If you wanted to pre-order this game. EA charged you an EXTRA £5 for the privilege.

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Anonymous Coward

Unless you mean Call of Duty of course, which costs £10 more than the rest. Course, it's still £10 cheaper than the console version.

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Republic!

Ha, I love my Fiona Shrek Smuggler.

At level 35, I'm still having fun with the combat. What I like about my healer (sawbones) scoundrel is she really is more of a multi-class healer/rogue. Stealth/CC/Heals. And when everyone plays nice in a group I have enough energy left to close in on a target, give it a nutshot to double 'em over then a cheap shot and finish it with a blast from behind with my shotgun... very satisfying to me personally.

I played a little Imp, but man, those are some dark stories. From a values/morals standpoint the contrast in stories between alliance and Imperials is nothing at all like Alliance:Horde. Evil! Evil!

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Anonymous Coward

If the dude with the lightsaber...

... can parry or deflect the bullets (er, laser blasts) of the ranged class, like in the other SW games (Jedi Outcast), and the lore itself, there is no point being a ranged class in PVP.

Now, since the Star Wars history is made on more than a dozen planets and moons, let's just hope the game presents the same variation.

Or will present, some day.

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They have a CHANCE of parrying/deflecting, but if you hit them enough times they go down, trust me I'm playing a Trooper/Vanguard and they can't parry or deflect my AE Mortar Volley (I love that ability!)

When I started out I thought Trooper would be the push-over class that you seem to think, but I was pleasantly surprised how wrong I was. They've avoided stupidly overpowering force wielders so that us "normals" stand a chance. Of course we aren't normal troopers, I'm the leader of HAVOC SQUAD (RAH!) which is an elite of elite special forces unit. I'm not playing a squaddie but THE BEST the Republic army has to offer!

Well at least thats the idea!

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FAIL

Bought it, played it cancelled

Server downtime and queues were my main problem, that and the fact that a collection of friends and I created a guild in the official way and then they put us on a french server!!!

If you are happy with waiting 30mins+ for the majority of servers, more for others, unexplained errors that kick you out of the game so you have to queue again amd the woeful support (5 tickets to get a digital download key working) one reply asked me to scan the CD case and key cert!! then enjoy.

personally Ill stick to non MMOs for the moment

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Silver badge

On Shatlin Tunnels (eu)

I have never queued.

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Let's talk about the most important part of PVP, Balance (with a capital B). I just partook in a warzone (got sent in 2nd round, lucky me) the results were as follows:

Number of kills (total) by Empire players........ 152

Number of kills (total) by Republic players ..... 3 (I am not making this up, I have the screenshot!)

As a reviewer, roll a Jedi and then put in a new score after playing with the warzones (I recommend scoundrel, they get to kick the opponent in the nuts)

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Thumb Down

You can tell Lucy is a lone wolf...

... because she gave the game 80%. Anyone who wants to play with others will soon notice the complete lack of a useful grouping tool; this was an intentional decision by the developers. The planets are broken down into phased groups with populations so small you can easily play for an hour without ever seeing anyone else; this was an intentional decision by the developers. The worlds are huge but empty and lifeless, and travel is slow; this was an intentional decision by the developers.

As KOTOR 3 the game would perhaps have merited 80%, but it barely even qualifies as an MMO.

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I played in the beta, enjoyed it, started playing the real game and spent 7 hrs in queues just trying to get in. Since then I've just not been able to bring myself to play for long.

It's a single player game with a few milti-player bits bolted onto it. I don't see how it'll keep you going once you reach the current level cap, it's not a persistant world with a long term goal.

Also, if you look back at the NGE 'fix' for Star Wars Galaxies back in 2005 you pretty much have the new game all planned out.

Instead I've gone back an took a look at the SWG EMU and it's actually getting there, and worth a look if you want a free MMO.

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Meh

Nothing new so far

Having just started playing it here are my thoughts on the game so far:

It plays almost exactly like WoW, but in a different setting, thus anyone who has played WoW will instantly find it very familiar. This is a good or bad thing depending on your perspective.

The art direction is horrendous. The use of colour harmonies is about as far away from what the textbooks suggest as you can get. It's very distracting.

The character models are also pretty bad, which is a shame as you spend a lot of time staring at them in many, many cut scenes.

Speaking of which, cut scenes in an MMO? Personally, I'm not a fan.

So far I'm not massively impressed, but I'll give it until the end of the month.

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Silver badge

For me the biggest difference from wow

Is what's pushing you to continue - in wow it's the levelling, but in swtor it's the story Pushing you onwards

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There are dual classes....in fact the imperial agent Lucy is running has an advance choise to be healer/dps vice the full dps class she chose.

Overall the game has legs and should last. Some items need work...pvp instances have no brackets, level 10 fights level 50. Quite a few bugs in quests and maps. 'Flirting' with NPCs in storylines is allowed, but only cross gender, not quite realistic.

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Go

Just needs polish

It took WoW until BC to get the polish it has now. It's still far from perfect, no MMO could be, but Blizzard have smoothed out the worst of it's rough edges. Every year brings two steps forward and one back, so overall it advances in the right direction. Right now it's possible to play WoW for just a 2-3 hours a week and still participate in raids. They've made longer downtimes less frequent and better explained their reasoning behind changes.

The problem any new MMO has is that they don't have the 4, 5, 6 years of tweaking that allows them to rival WoW out of the box. Personally I'm willing to give this MMO a year or two to see how it progresses. I have a feeling the fact it is not just another medieval/fantasy MMO will give it longer legs than the last 4 or 5 that have been released.

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Stop

White (Jedi) Knights

The idea that a new MMO doesn't have to be as polished as WoW because it hasn't been around seven years is a fallacy. Class balance and amount of content can be excused in a neophyte game, but when it comes to lessons in design there is no excuse for not observing Blizzard's mistakes and learning from them.

Bioware have not done this. WoW used to have quest text that appeared gradually; it became so unpopular with players levelling alts that it was changed to appear instantly. In TOR you instead have the voice acting gimmick, which you will listen to the first time you play - but every time thereafter you'll be impatiently hammering the space bar to get through the annoying cutscene so you can actually play the game.

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WTF?

but...

Gees, this does not address the most important question any Star Wars based mmo would be asked:

Can you create a character that looks like Carrie Fisher wearing her Princess Laia gold bikini???

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Facepalm

Lucy...

... it's 'Leeroy'. Not 'Leroy'. 'Lee-roy'. With two E's.

You NEED to know these things.

It's like seeing 'Notts Forest'. Or 'Peterhouse College, Cambridge'.

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Anonymous Coward

£45 is nonsense

For all the £45 complainers - go online to the major retailers and you will find that the actual price hovers between £35 and £38. When has the RRP ever been the actual price you pay??

Also bear in mind that WoW, Eve, LOTRO all cost this much when they originally released. WoW has reduced the price to compensate for new players having to buy all expansions.

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Anonymous Coward

Additionally...

... you get the first 30days free when you first register the code, well I did, so I'm not sure what the earlier posters were complaining about.

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