Star Wars The Old Republic was originally released on December 20th, 2011, and has had many ups and downs over the past few years, but the game is still going strong and has much to offer both fans of the Star Wars universe, and MMO fans alike.
As far as MMO RPG's go, Star Wars the Old Republic will feel very familiar in its gameplay, quests, missions, etc. Many of the quests seem monotonous and similar to what has been done and redone in the industry. Bioware could have tried to be more innovative by creating deeper quest objectives beyond the normal "kill that bad guy" or "fetch my lost item", which is so pervasive in the MMO genre. They make up for it with their interesting worlds, superb voice acting, and intuitive controls, but I still would have liked to see more thought behind the quests.
Despite the games huge open universe, much of the storyline seems very linear. Quests are set up group clusters so that you complete all quests in an area before moving on to the next cluster of quests in the next area. You rarely need to go back to previous areas, and most worlds have a "base" area that you end up coming back to in order to turn in quests, level up, etc. It's all very typical of other MMO RPG's, but they do it well.
There are a total of 10 different species to choose from, some of them restricted to specific classes, but all can be unlocked for each class through the legacy system. Specific species do not have any bearing on gameplay besides aesthetics and which classes are available to begin with.
There are 8 total classes to choose from, 4 for the Republic, 4 for the Sith Empire. The classes mirror their republic or sith counterparts, so there are really only 4 unique classes. There are two force/jedi type classes, and two military style classes.
Even within classes there are many options of where you want to go with them. There are points to put in skill trees at each level that help you to pursue a specific style for your character.
There are also NPC companions that join you along the way and fight beside you. Some of them are great to use and are a huge benefit, and others are not. Your actions, however, effect how they view you and how they will cooperate with you. This was another area that i think should have been developed better. One of the best things in KOTOR 2 was affecting your companions and turning them to the dark or light side. In this game, however, the characters are static. No matter how evil or good you are, your characters will not be affected. That being said, NPC companions still have their unique personalities and storylines to explore.
What sets Star Wars the Old Republic apart from other MMO's is its amazing voice acting and music. Besides the superbly annoying cantina music, the background music in Star Wars the Old Republic is some of the best in all of video gaming, with unique sounds, tempos, and instruments used for each planet.
Bioware clearly wanted to make a statement with their hours upon hours of voice acting. It was all high quality voice acting, and endless hours of it to boot. It has been said that this was the largest entertainment voice over project ever!
Sound effects have been known to be a little bugy at times, but it is similarly usually of high quality.
The graphics in Star Wars the Old Republic are only limited according to what your computer's processor and graphics card can handle. With the graphics turned all of the way up, the game looks amazing, albeit a little cartoonish. The open worlds are lush with detail and panoramic views, thus keeping even the most monotonous quests interesting.
The plot in Star Wars the Old Republic is loosely based off of the wildly successful Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic game series, borrowing much of the lore and style from those games. Without giving any spoilers, there is a war between the Republic and Sith *Gasp!*. The Sith Empire and the Old Republic are in a tentative truce, but both sides know it is bound to end soon.
You start the game on one of 4 planets depending on your starting class and must play through the quests on that planet to move on. Surprisingly, the initial story lines and plots for the beginning planets are very good. You don't have to trudge through boring intros and "how to play" segments, but get started right away with the action and learn as you go. The beginning worlds, in my opinion, were well thought out and fun.
According to what class you choose, you'll have a unique storyline for your character. All of the story lines are interesting and will keep you engaged with your character. With a total of 8 classes to choose from, there is an amazing amount of storyline and hours upon hours of game play.
While Star Wars The Old Republic is not the most earth shattering of MMO RPG's, and they didn't initiate much change in the genre, it is still a game well worth playing and has many great features. For Star Wars and KOTOR fans, it's a must play. While the game has its flaws, the great graphics, open worlds, endless content, great voice acting, and awesome back ground music make up for it.
All in all, I would give it an 8.5/10.