Bioware's long-awaited MMO has finally arrived. Was it worth the wait?
I have anxiously awaited SW:TOR since the first morsels of information started to leak out a few years back. As a huge fan of Bioware single-player RPG's and the Star Wars franchise alike, this seemed like the game I had waited my whole life for.
Well the time has finally come, so was the game worth the wait?
For me, yes, though the game is not without its issues and bugs.
From the moment you first boot the game up, the quality drips from every pore as you view the opening cinematic. It's probably one of the best CGI's I've seen in any game and it sets the "Star Wars-y" mood quite nicely. The faction specific cinematics are very good as well.
Character customization is a bit stale in my opinion. There are not a lot of unique looks and options, but it is on par with MOST MMO's, though some certainly do it better. The biggest issue is the limited body types available, especially for male characters. It seems like there should be at least one option available between normal and "superbuff".
I have not explored all of the game's storylines in depth; Sith Inquisitor is the only one I've played past level 20, but I have enjoyed the story very much. I really feel connected with my character due to the choices available throughout.
I really like the way Bioware has dealt with the common MMO issue of everyone of the same class having same looking gear. In essence, the best armor and weapons in the game are "slotted". Your stats come from the items you put into these slots, not the armor item itself. This allows you to essentially keep any armor or weapon you like the looks of throughout the game and just upgrade the enhancements, mods, hilts, barrels, etc. of your gear as you level.
The combat system doesn't deviate too much from what you've become accustomed to if you've played other MMO's such as LotRO, Aion, Rift or WoW. You still have hotbars and hotkeys. You still have the Holy Trinity of Tank, DPS, and Healer, though TOR does allow for a lot of flexibility within each class, and even within each advanced class. For instance, as a Sith Inquisitor, you can either go Sorcerer or Assassin as your advanced class. As a Sorcerer, you can either spec into healing, caster DPS, or a mixture of both. As an Assassin, you can spec into tanking, melee DPS or a mixture. Lots of options are available to the player here for what type of character you want to be.
Group dynamics work well for the most part. There is plenty of group content here for the instance fiend, whether it is in flashpoints or open world heroic quests.
Most of the bosses in flashpoints use some kind of boss mechanics of varying degrees. You will have to stay out of "fire", take on summoned adds, purge debuffs as a healer, and deal with other curveballs that bosses may throw at you. Yes, we've seen all these things with other MMO's, and TOR is on par with most of these.
Crafting is a mixed bag. I really like how it's set up as far as letting your companions do most of the dirty work for you. However, this can be EXPENSIVE while leveling, as sending those companions out on gathering missions costs a lot of credits. Also, crafted gear, at least while leveling, is not much better than gear you can acquire through commendation vendors and through quest rewards. I can't speak for crafted gear at end game, but crafting seems like a big money sink while leveling. Fortunately, credits are not very hard to come by through questing, so it's still worthwhile to keep your crafting on par as you level.
PvP has been slammed a lot on this game so far. I don't think it's too bad, but it does feel a hair laggy and "zergy" in the PvP scenarios (called Warzones in this game). I can't comment on open world PvP as I've been playing on a PvE server, but from what I hear from others, there's not much of it so far. For me personally, this is not such a big issue as PvP is not what I play MMO's for, though I recognize that others do consider PvP a priority. If so, this may not be the game for you, at least not yet. Time will tell if Bioware fixes the issues or not.
There is a certain "je ne sais quoi" with this game for me. I have been completely addicted since I first played the game during beta weekend. It is more than the sum of its parts. Nothing besides the voice acting and storylines are much of a leap in MMO evolution, but for those things, wow, what an evolution it is. This is the first time I've given a damn about my character in an MMO, and when I've reached end game with this one, I still have 7 other storylines to play through.
If you are like me and enjoy the journey moreso than the destination in MMO's then this one is definitely the one for you.