Star Wars: The Old Republic Hands-On Preview

The Old Republic

After a few days of wandering round the ridiculously crowded entertainment floor of Gamescom, taking small quiet appointments with a couple of developers and a few journalists whilst sometimes getting hands-on with certain games in the comfortable business centre booths, and generally casting my beady little eyes over any intriguing presentations that were going on, I’d pretty much seen everything I wanted to at Gamescom 2011. Unfortunately though the games that I had yet to see were fairly high profile, which meant that I faced the daunting prospect of wasting hours of my life stuck in a horribly long queue. As a result I started moaning to some of the other writers on the team at the press centre and we began comparing notes as to what we still needed to take a look at.

Fortunately for me, I struck up a conversation with another British journalist, we got nattering away, and I mentioned in passing that I wouldn’t have minded taking a look at The Old Republic. Once the words had left my mouth, he quickly began rumaging around in his bag and to my surprise produced a couple of VIP passes, which he handed over without a care in the world, thus going down as a legend amongst men in my opinion. Shortly after that, Brendan and I fought our way through the masses on our way to gaze in awe at BioWare’s upcoming Star Wars MMORPG. When we finally arrived, the reps guarding the barriers spotted our passes almost immediately and we were quickly ushered inside to a couple of computers in the blink of on eye. Then the real fun began!

The Old Republic 2

The screen for the PC that I sat down to was displaying a fairly swish character load out screen, and knowing that Matt had already checked out The Sith Inquisitor, I decided to look into one of the light side characters, The Jedi Consular, after all I was in a good mood having just bypassed hours of standing in line. Once I’d finalised my selection I was treated to a brief introductory video before I had a go at exchanging a few lines of dialouge with my new Jedi Master, then I was free to roam around the environments.

Seeing as I’ve never played an MMORPG before and PC gaming’s been ruled off the cards for me because I’ve got a desktop that’s several years out of date, I was worried that things might get a little tricky. Luckily, I’d checked out another MMO with Carl earlier in the day, so I wasn’t perhaps as lost as I might have been, but to be honest the controls aren’t exactly difficult to pick up, in fact you feel fairly comfortable with them after a relatively short period of time. The Consulars movement is pretty much the same as any other character and she’s got a fairly normal jump for a force user, which was probably due to the fact that you started the demo as a Level 1 character. As you navigate around the environments you come across a range of people to interact with, mostly Jedi Knights, Masters, or Jedi Guards. The speech options the Jedi Consular has range from simple humble statements, to arrogant remarks about how powerful she is, which some of the other characters, in particular Jedi Masters, will have a go at you for because ‘it’s not the Jedi way!’

The Old Republic 3

Finding your way around is a walk in the park and if you do get stuck you can always pull the map up to see where you need to go for your next quest, or work out where points of interest are if you’re having a bit of a wander around the environment. Should you want to move around whilst you’re checking the map, it turns transleucent when you hit the movement keys, which I thought was a fairly nice touch and you can still clearly see what’s going on with both whilst this is happening. The game’s menus are also fairly easy to navigate and contain information on characters and places, as well as displaying all the quests you’ve accepted, which activate with a simple click of your mouse button.

When it comes to combat The Consular starts off with a basic training sabre, so you’ll have to sit back and jealously watch some of the stronger Jedi characters pull out their shiny lightsabers as they charge into battle next to you. Luckily, the training sabre packs a fairly hefty punch, so you’ll be able to dispatch your enemies quickly, particularly if you combine them with some of her sabre strike moves. Then again you could just use her awesome force powers to pick up bits of the surrounding area and smash them into enemies, not very Jedi like I know, but as long as you claim self defence you shouldn’t fall to the dark side! If you do find yourself getting into trouble, you can always make a quick getaway before performing a fifteen second meditation to recharge your health and force meters.

The Old Republic 4

One thing that I did think was a little bit disappointing was that, with the exception of sound effects, this one didn’t really have an epic soundtrack you’d instantly recognise as being from the Star Wars universe, but then again it was a little bit hard to hear yourself think amongst the screams of the general public, so I guess I’ll have to wait until the game’s released before I can make a proper judgement there.

I think it’s captured the feel of the Knights Of The Old Republic series remarkably well though and I was genuinely disappointed when I was told I needed to leave, after all I’d just levelled up for the first time and I wanted more time to explore. Up until this point I’ve stayed away from MMOs, but I definitely want to see more of this one. The real question is how much more do I want to see? I wasn’t impressed enough by the experience that I’ll be running out to pick up a copy on release and it’s possible that if things go down hill from the point I had to stop playing that I’d quickly lose interest and wouldn’t want to fork out a monthly payment to continue playing as a guardian of peace and justice in the galaxy. What I did see was pretty good though, and one thing’s for certain, it’ll be better than Star Wars Kinect!

Star Wars: The Old Republic is due for release soon!

First published on Dealspwn (24 August 2011)

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