My trip to the Old Republic

This weekend I was lucky enough to try out Bioware‘s newest proposed waste of life and time: Star Wars The Old Republic.  Before I get to deep into this rant of sorts, as I fear that is where this review will end up, I have a few things to say about Star Wars, Bioware, Lucas, and story telling.

When a True Reboot for Star Wars comes out, not just some hacked up “remastered” “3D-Added” the bad guy shoots first bullshit, but a true reboot.  I hope someone slap Lucas with a wet fish, gags him, locks him in a closet and then hands the reins over to Bioware.  I was raised on Star Wars, grew up in a world where it was the ultimate movie, and then I turned 17, A Phantom Menace came out, and my world crumbled.  Well I still have Hope, Empire and Return… but.

Let’s face it, as awesome as Light-sabers, Wookies, Han Solo, Blaster fights, and droids can be, the story as a whole is not some amazing literary work of art.  Lucas’ triumph was in the world he created and the doors he opened up into the wider world of SFX.

Bioware on the other hand, they are me, but someone gave them a budget, Lucas gave them the rights, and then they found awesome story writers.  Out of all my most memorable Star Wars moments, I would say half come from Bioware video games.  So please Hollywood hear me on this one, let Bioware Reboot the series, and if you need proof, go watch a few trailers.

Anyone onto the game… I have done a few beta test in my life, but this has to be the weirdest I have personally been part of.  I was given a weekend to test it out in, and it was kinda bad weekend, Holiday Weekends are not a time when I have a lot of “free” time to play a video game, let alone get invested in an MMO.  Also as a Freelance Artist and a nine to fiver, it is hard to say “okay I can give up a weekend…”.

However I made time, I picked the Sith Empire, and as a fan of “nothing beats a good blaster at your side..” I rolled up a bounty hunter.  Let’s get into the meat and potatoes of the game.

Character Creation.  It pretty cool, based on the Faction and Class you pick you get a choice range of races, and each race has a few steps to diversify your look even more.  Weight/Height, Scars, Piercings, Accessories, the normal with a Star Wars twist.  It is not a far ranging as say APB Reloaded, or City of Heroes, nor is it as fixed as World of Warcraft.

Quests:  This is a huge thing for me, I hated WoWs Quests 90% of the time.  Some dude asks you to go collect 5 wolf pelts, and even though you are a HERO WHO IS TRAINED in a specialty, you get to the field and your “sword/ax/rifle/magic” turns into a nuke which destroys any chance you had at ever SKINNING THE F*CKING ANIMAL!  Or some jackass ask you to go on an EPIC QUEST to get a BOOK off the table HE IS STANDING IN FRONT OF!

Well I am happy to report that SW:ToR doesn’t do that annoying shit, well as far as I could tell.  It is the rest of the standard junk though: “Go here, kill this dude.”  “Go out a kill 8 of these.”  However there is a twist, class specific story driven quests.  As a bounty hunter I had to go take care of some of the Hutt that controlled the starting areas pesty enemies, but in order to do that I had to go into special instances that where only for me and my group.  Pretty cool little twist, and if you go back?  Dude is dead and gone, or locked up, or run off, whatever you decided to do with him.

The quest system gave me a feeling that I changed the game world, which is cool and a major plus.

Character Interactions:  Two words.  VOICE ACTING!  I am so glad the future is here and I don’t have to read some ass-hat of an NPCS life story, just to get to the part where he asks if I can go get him a box of nails at Home Depot.(Yeah I kinda hate MMO quests.)  Voice Acting also does succeed in bringing another level of immersion to the experience, one that I liked.

Items/Gear:  As Shit Different Game.  Bunch of useless items that you can sell for money,  off set by a 2% chance you might get something way better than you have, or any of the vendor’s sell.  My main issues here?

1) If the NPCs in town are carrying around armloads of advanced military hardware, and don’t care that I have a blaster strapped to my side, I want the black market contact I can buy their guns from.

2) The gear the vendors in town sell SHOULD BE BETTER, than the shit you start the game with!  I know the point, it encourages me to go fight for better stuff, but I am gonna do that anyway!  Give the vendors the good shit and then make it stupid expensive!

3)Useless junk, never seems useless.  If my character truly reflected myself, my abilities, and my aptitude(or stupid curiosity) for creating and crafting, I could take all the “sellable only” crap I got during a quest and build and f*cking star port!  Crafting needs to be fixed in MMOs..

Leveling Up: Eh, fight some dudes, get a some sparkles, get better stats to fight stronger dudes that LOOK THE SAME.  Rinse/Repeat.  Look I like it in some games, I really do.  The sense of accomplishment, unlocking new content, seeing new things, finding new enemies!  It’s exciting!  But an MMO is designed to keep you interested for weeks and months worth of play time, not the 6-8 hours of a standard video game.

That means you get to fight the same guy, with a different gun, or different colored name, ABOUT 500 TIMES!  This is not fun.

Graphics:  If this is the first generation of next generation MMOs Graphically Speaking, it fails.  Sure there are more polys, sure there is more lighting effects, sure the GUI is crisper, but it looks like WoW with a Star Wars twist.  The Animations are a bit better too, and the facial stuff is cool, but it doesn’t look like BF3, it looks like WoW.

Overall:  7/10.  To be fair it is still in Beta, and it was fun, I might even be tempted to buy it and play.  But first impressions?  Its World of Warcraft.  Whatever love and joy I had for MMOs has been killed by WoW, or maybe I have just grown up enough to realize that I don’t have hours a day to commit to a new MMO.  Because lets face it, any time I would spend playing ST:ToR, would be time I could have spent playing MINECRAFT 🙂


The Late review… Firefall.

Since I returned from PAX I have been trying to figure out how I wanted to sum up Firefall.  It was been a daunting task, because as Much as I want to like this game.. I don’t.

At PAX 2010 I stumbled across a few bean bag chairs, all huddle around a big screen like pre-civilization man huddled around a campfire before a mammoth hunt.  Being only a few steps removed form my ancestors I grunted, and slumped into a chair.. and saw one of the coolest trailers I have seen in a long time for an upcoming game.

Anyway I left with this feeling that Firefall was going to be awesome!  And Free to Play!  Well I have grown, Firefall has grown, the concept of Free to Play has grown, and I don’t like any of it.

From a Marketing standpoint the Firefall team had it licked!  With a twist of WoW daily quests and standard convention scavenger hunts, a con-goer could hunt down several things/people/statues at PAX to take photos and post them online, and then go back and see the gentlemen that gave you your “quests” and get these cool little fake crystals.

This had me hyped, the statues were EPIC!  the Developers we found were cool guys, and all the marketing material we sifted through was amazing!  Then came the time to play the game…

It’s Tribes, on a smaller map, with less choices and weapons.. and cell shaded.  I say Tribes, because that is the level of the graphics and design.  I mean for a game with such amazing concept art, marketing and CG trailer, I finally got my hands on it and was not impressed.  The map that was available to play was a big box canyon, with three installations and a few out buildings scattered about to give the “suggestion” of cover and objectives.

One team, Red, has to protect these 3 major installations while the other team, Blue, has to hack into them and capture them (Like we have never done this is a game before…).  Now if you lose a building you can’t re-capture it…  and the 10 minute time limit is a bit too long if your team is any good, or way to slow if your team is any good.(Other guys die to much, you spend a lot of time shooting rocks and stuff)

I know there is a lot more to this game, I only played the PvP and there is a PvE side, there is also a story and if you are into micro-transaction all sorts of “cool” extras you can get.. or something.  I also know that the game is still under-development so the graphics might get better, the game-play might get more options, and one day it may polish into something amazing.

However for now I have UT:Black, Brink and TF2, not to mention the other FPS I enjoy, so I have no desire to play a game that doesn’t do anything better than any of these.  Not to mention, when it comes to my FPS I am getting sick of Free to Play BS.  I mean a DLC, maybe I will buy that but I miss the good old days where you could buy a game for 40 bucks, get ALL THE CONTENT and have fun online Fragging your friends.

Sure MMOs are great and Micro-transactions make sense in some cases, but I don’t want to be wasting time on a game some other kid just wasted money on.