Back in December 2010 I believe I mentioned how I was tempted to jump back into World of Warcraft after the release of the Cataclysm expansion. Thankfully I managed to resist that impulse, but now I’m feeling the itch for another game, and this time I think I will end up succumbing. Yesterday, Strategy Informer posted its review for the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO after our writer gave it an intensive three-week stint. He gave it a 9/10, and now I’m dangerously close to giving into impulse and buying it.
I’ll be honest, when Bioware first started doing those really cool trailers for The Old Republic, I was pumped. I mean who wouldn’t be? They were fricking cool trailers… but eventually, you calm down and you remember that there wasn’t any gameplay, and that it was all just marketing essentially. Then, as more and more hands-on previews were being released, not to mention my own limited experience. I started to get a little bit worried. I never thought it was going to be terrible, but at the time it wasn’t looking to be fantastic either – not to mention the fact that Dragon Age II proved that Bioware could, in fact, do wrong.
This is why our 9/10 surprised me. I’d been talking to some other writer-friends of mine about it, and they’d basically said it was good in the sense that it’s Bioware and they’re doing what they do best, but not great in terms of an MMO game. Essentially, the feedback I got was something like it was a Star Wars WoW – not a WoW clone per say, but it basically did nothing for the genre. This isn’t exactly a crime, or any reason to dismiss the game out of hand, but if you look at Guild Wars 2 and what that’s doing, it’s hard not to be a little bit disappointed by TOR‘s apparent traditionalism. The official meta-critic score though is currently sitting on 86/100, and that’s with barely a dozen sites – major or otherwise, having given their verdict. Granted, some like the review The Guardian posted after a couple of days are a bit ridiculous, but others have clearly been more thorough, and by all accounts this isn’t looking to be that bad after all.
So, coming back to my opening point – I’m feeling the itch to dive in once again.
One major piece of feedback that has stood is that this IS an MMO at the start of its life. End-game incentives and content doesn’t seem to be quite there yet, and there’s a couple of features that don’t seem to have been developed properly yet either. Plus there is the fact that it’s a subscription model MMO, and considering I either can’t or don’t want to log in all the time, I will end up wasting money at some point. Still, I’m a believer in supporting brands, even early on, so I could just buy it, play it for a bit and then come back when it’s been updated a bit more. The key thing is the social scene… I’ve never had much luck making friends in MMO, and none of my friends ever seem to play the MMO’s I play, and even if they do they’re never on when I am. This means I get bored very quickly as I miss out on the all the social stuff and to be honest, no matter how well you design an MMO with the solo player in mind, it always ends up getting soulless.
We’ll see – I need to go into town tomorrow on personal business, and there’s both a GAME and a Gamestation in town, so who knows what I may end up coming back with. Don’t worry, I won’t pick up the Collector’s Edition… not THAT interested, even if it is Star Wars.