Sunday, August 23, 2009

New Star Wars:The Old Republic Videos: Same Old Crap Part I

IGN is sporting four new videos for Star Wars: The Old Republic, totaling 20 minutes of footage. Most of the footage is from in-game, showing off SW:ToR's combat and voice acting. Unfortunately, holding the same as every single video Bioware has released for SW:ToR, the developers in the video say one thing and then show something else.

Here is the first video.

What Bioware says:
"the action packed Star Wars combat"
"we want to make sure combat feels heroic from the beginning"

What the Video shows:

A bounty hunter crouching behind a rock and tree blindly shooting blaster bolts and rockets through solid objects at NPCs that stand there and take it like a bitch, all while the NPCs five feet to the left ignore the fact that their comrades are being killed.

From the video footage, their idea of heroic is "fighting two guys at once". I'm not quite sure that fits my idea of heroic. Personally, a heroic situation comes from more than just the number of enemies involved. It comes from the entire sum of the scenario. This could have passed as Heroic if the NPCs around the area reacted to the fact a bounty hunter just walked in and started blasting random members of their team, culminating in maybe a wall mounted blaster cannon taking aim at the bounty hunter, truly forcing the jet pack equipped bounty hunter to take to the sky and unleash a precisely-fired rocket to take down the cannon.

That would be HEROIC. Standing still, shooting NPCs that are also standing still, is not.

Part I score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The only thing that looks interesting is the voice acting and story driven nature. The combat still looks terribly boring and formulaic. An additional half star for the cover system which looks interesting.


  1. I've been telling friends for months that SW:ToR is not going to live up to the hype. Development resources are limited. Full voice acting is going to suck up a huge portion of their budget and resources. By declaring that their focus they were effectively telling us the gameplay was not going to be original/revolutionary.

    I would love your idea to actually happen in an MMO. But forcing people to be think strategically and actually be skilled is sadly not the path MMO development seems to be heading down. On the contrary it's several zip codes over and speeding rapidly in the opposite direction.

  2. Developer-written story has no place in MMOs. I'll continue to say it until someone listens. I pretty much agree with you on the combat gameplay, too. And, the fact they haven't shown a non-instanced area makes me hesitant to believe this is more than a Star Wars take on Mass Effect.

  3. Bhagpuss5:58 PM

    Spending a major part of your budget on story for a customer-base that is famously not interested in story indicates either enormous confidence in attracting an entirely new audience or delusional wishful-thinking.

    MMO players as they stand have precious little interest in story. Voice acting is a novelty that people will pay some attention to, but as EQ2 proved at launch having a lot more voice acting than your competitors does not make up for crap gameplay.

    Maybe Bioware really will bring in a ton of people who currently don't play MMOs because of the lack of story, but I will believe it when I see the subscriber numbers.

  4. Bhagpuss, its an interesting argument to make, but then again Bioware has stated they don't feel as if anyone has delivered a reason for players to care about the story. Basically, no game has delivered a story-based system where players can make decisions that matter.

    Vanguards Diplomacy was sort of a try, but it fell down hard, becoming charted and meta-gamed into the dirt. Which WILL happen to SW:ToR, but if its a good system, the average player won't feel the need to cheat. In one of the later videos, it scared me to hear the developer state you get "dark side points" from certain decisions which lets you unlock certain skills. I do not like that idea at all, as it will lead down to the dark side of min/maxers.

    This is the one area that does intrigue me with SW:ToR. They ARE showing off a decent story/decision-making system. The combat attached to it just looks like shit :P

    Actually, a slower-paced game due to good story telling and story interaction would be nice.

  5. royale4:31 PM

    Those animations, wow. I expected them to be so much better... every one of the characters moves like they have a lightsaber shoved you know where.

    And the combat doesn't look heroic, it looks like there are enemies standing around waiting to be mowed down for exp. And then more bad animations in combat without any sort of tactics whatsoever... looks like all you have to do is spam your favorite abilities until the stuff dies.

    Hopefully I'm wrong, but WAR showed me how important fun and fluid combat is to an MMO, and so far TOR is failing just as hard from the looks of it.

  6. Yojay8:33 AM

    I like the look of the cover system and the story-based questing. What I find interesting is, as you mentioned - the not-very-epic combat. Especially since they stated it as one of their goals. By the looks of things most of these quests will be instanced. Creating scripted encounters such as the one you describe should be very possible with an instanced approach. I hope they use some imagination in their quest narratives.

    tldr: animations need work, needs more "epic", combat looks boring


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