Something, Something, Something, Dark Side...
[As we creep closer to the game's release, we've gotten some more Old Republic coverage for you salivating Star Wars fans ~Ed.]
For several years now, there has been a void in the RPG universe. A light that once burnt bright and radiated throughout its cosmos. I am referring to BioWare and LucasArts' classic Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for Xbox and PC. Obsidian tried their best with KOTOR II to fill the gap, but while a valiant effort, it was rushed and incomplete. In the meantime, BioWare hooked us up with some other great RPGs like Mass Effect and the recent Dragon Age: Origins. Good games, but where the hell are the goddamn lightsabers?!?!
[image1]Finally, the time has come for them to return to the world of midichlorians and Wookies with Star Wars: The Old Republic. Not everything is going to be exactly how you remember it, though. First off, this is an MMORPG - the “Knights” part of the title has been dropped. That's because this time around you can be more than just another Jedi serving The Council. There are eight classes overall for you to choose from, four Light side and their four Dark side counterparts.
The Han Solo-esque smugglers are offset by the bounty hunters, both using deception and trickery in order to take on much more powerful opponents. Jedi Knights and Sith Warriors are probably the classes that will seem the most familiar to anyone whose played through either of the original KOTOR games: They're your standard lightsaber-wielding, force-using fighters who you've wanted to be since your were six years old.
They're joined in the ways of the force by the new Jedi Consular and Sith Inquisitor. Think of them as the more psychological or manipulative version of the standard knight. They rely more on their mental training than proficiency with a weapon. And last but not least. there are the Troopers and Imperial Agents, the working class soldiers of the galaxy. They may not shoot lightning from their hands and they can't convince you that these are not the droids you're looking for, but they do pack some awesome firepower and come with some special skills of their own.
[image2]Gameplay has also gotten a facelift. Old Republic plays much more like your standard MMO than its predecessors. There are still hints of the old system, but those of you who are familiar with playing the World of Warcraft-style MMO will be right at home here. Where TOR separates itself from the WoW wannabes is in the depth of its story. While plots for most games in this genre are nothing more than a page or two of filler to get you going on the next quest, what you'll find here is an evolving plot with twists and turns. There will be consequences for the actions that you take; whether they're rewarding or punishing is really up to how you play the game. You want to be the greatest Sith to ever live? Maybe going around killing everyone who gets in your way is the way to go. Maybe it's not. Things just aren't that simple, of course. But you get the point.
Another unique aspect is the fact that all dialogue is spoken as opposed to being blasted onto the screen in intrusive blocks of texts. Hours upon hours of spoken words to help immerse you into a world spawned from the bloated head of George Lucas. It's a rather impressive undertaking when you consider that most MMORPGs never end and there are multiple responses for most interactions.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is still about a year or so away from hitting home PCs, but it's already looking extremely well polished. And besides all that, this is BioWare we're talking about and they're not known for screwing things up. Look for it around Spring 2011.