I'm Luke Skywalker and this is my favorite MMO on the Citadel.
In terms of Massively Multiplayer Online games, there's World of Warcraft and then there's everything else. As a collective of subscription-paying gamers, WoW dwarfs everything else on the market, forcing other developers to create an entirely new way of making money in the realm of free-to-play games.
So for Electronic Arts and Bioware to enter this competitive sector, they've got to have something pretty special in their hands. In this instance, they've got Star Wars on their side. Lightsabers, force powers, bounty hunters, and an entire galaxy of licensing combine with the leveling, grinding, questing, and looting to bring you Star Wars: The Old Republic.
When you create your character, you'll have to choose between the Empire and the Republic, both of which have four classes between them. Jedi and Sith join Mercenaries and Bounty Hunters. Each class has their own story to play, complete with companion characters, starting planets, and a compelling reason to continue seeking out the Character Quests that move the plot forward.
That's the good. That's the promise of drama and emotion and action. Where The Old Republic falters is in its execution of this promise. Remember, this is an MMO, not a tight Mass Effect campaign, no matter how similar it may seem. Every stop on your galaxy hopping adventure will throw a mess of quests in your way, forcing you to sort it all out for the chance at some amazing equipment and credits.
The other option is to put on blinders and ignore everything to focus on your character's story, which can still grow a little monotonous. Having a computer-controlled AI companion can be fun, but they're neither as developed or interesting as you might find in Bioware's other games.
Even obtaining and turning in a quest is a treat because of the full voice-acting and cutscenes. Still, The Old Republic's ambitious production values are only countered by the predominant solitude you might feel from level 20 onward. Prepare yourself for a lonely run of things.
The true disappointment in The Old Republic is how easily you can play the game as a solo experience. Bioware's MMO literally feels like paying $15 a month for 8 different Star-Wars-flavored Mass Effects. Unless you want to challenge your character with an admittedly fantastic Flashpoint or difficult Heroic Area, you can completely ignore the other players on your server.
Occasionally, you might run into another player who'd like to join up with you because they need help finishing one of their story quests. Maybe you are that character. Either way, the community surrounding The Old Republic in its current state seem perfectly content to mind their own business and leave each other alone.
As a piece of consumable media, Star Wars: The Old Republic is the Jedi-in-training's wet dream. If you've ever heard of the annual Star Wars fan convention and thought "haha, that's neat" and not "ew, gross," then this game is for you. Drop your World of Warcraft subscription and starting sending checks to Bioware.
Likewise, if you're a lapsed World of Warcraft player and your craving something similar enough to migrate your skills to, The Old Republic will certainly please. Even if you're just curious about MMOs and you'd like to get your feet wet, The Old Republic is a great place to get in on the ground floor, because it's ambitious enough to build up a large player base and the license and developer will keep those players around for quite some time.
Still, if you're not really one for MMOs or you won't have the time to level up a character, please move along. The Force is strong with this one, but not so strong that you should throw away your console and invest in a beefy PC.