Monday, 9 January 2012


The Old Republic has launched and has been live for a number of weeks now, nearing a month if you count Early Game Access. And in that time a lot of gaming sites have played the game and written extensive reviews about it.

Here is a list of the ones I've seen (some found on my own, others picked up from Metacritic), including the score that they gave the game (if there are multiple links for a site I only list the score they gave once):

  • [link] to first impressions at MMORPG.
  • [link] to review at Ten Ton Hammer. (88/100)
  • [link] to review at PC Gamer. (93/100)
  • [link] to review at Eurogamer. (8/10)
  • [link] to review at GameSpy. (4/5)
  • [link] to impressions at Shacknews.
  • [link] to review at MMORPG. (8.7/10)
  • [link] to review at GameSpot. (8.0/10)
  • [link] to video review at GameSpot.
  • [link] to review at IGN. (9.0/10)
  • [link] to video review at IGN.
  • [link] to review journal at IGN.
  • [link] to review at G4TV. (5/5)
  • [link] to review at Ausgamers. (9.5/10)
  • [link] to review at DarkZero. (9/10)
  • [link] to review at The A.V. Club. (B-)
  • [link] to review at Digital Spy. (4/5)
  • [link] to review at IncGamers. (8/10)
  • [link] to review at Cheat Code Central. (4.5/5)
  • [link] to review at VentureBeat. (89/100)
  • [link] to review at The Guardian. (4/5)

Read on after the break as I briefly pull out a couple of reviews.

I'll start off with the Ten Ton Hammer review, which was one of the first ones I saw. Here's an excerpt:

Possibly the highest praise I can give for The Old Republic is that BioWare has managed to successfully transition from being a dominant force in the realm of single-player RPGs, broadening in both size and scope to bring that same great storytelling experience to a much larger audience. In most cases this transition has been executed flawlessly, marking SWTOR as the first MMO where story actually matters. Yet it also neatly bookends the gameplay template we’ve all grown accustomed to over the past dozen years rather than attempting to establish the next great chapter in the MMO history books.

Overall it's a fairly positive review with a score that sets the tone for every other review (at the time of this writing The Old Republic has Metacritic score of 86. It notes a couple of downsides, some that I agree with and some that I don't, but for the most part I find myself in agreement with the review.

Even more positive is the review up at Pc Gamer (note that there are some slight spoilers for the Imperial Agent storyline such as a major story instance and what the first few Companions are). Here's a (spoiler-free) excerpt:

But even though I could quest with Gavin, I wasn’t sure I’d want to. Making moral choices by committee can be tricky for control freaks like me. When a multiplayer conversation option pops up, everyone in your group selects the choice they want. Then a dice roll determines who gets to respond. The first time Gavin’s evil Sith butchered someone begging for mercy, I was outraged. How could he? I felt invested in and protective of my softy Sith Agent and his trajectory, and Gavin ruined my story.

But, on second, calmer thought, I realized I was just playing a different story: the story of an unlikely group working together to defeat a common enemy. It’s a very Star Wars theme, and, much like the inability to load quick saves, adds a depth and dimension to roleplaying. There’d be a similar difference between playing Dungeons & Dragons by yourself and with a full group of friends. Sure, another player will inevitably piss you off by randomly grabbing an NPC and hurling them into a fire, but that’s part of the spontaneity that makes roleplaying in a group so great. It’s an awesome, unscripted RPG experience that you can only have in The Old Republic right now.

He talks more about how the story impacts him and the difficulty of making decisions in the stories. And I've definitely heard more of that, had a few of those instances myself (the one that he refers to not so much, that was easy for my somewhat xenophobic character, but a choice at the end of chapter one for the IA was really difficult). I think that's testament of how strong an experience BioWare has created. Because I've never really experienced dilemmas like that, storytelling like that, in MMOs before (well, except for roleplaying of course but that's no thanks to the MMO itself). Overall I quite enjoyed the read (as I was just barely far enough in the IA story to not have anything really spoiled for me).

The previous reviews have all been largely positive, but decidedly more negative sounding Eurogamer's review. Here's an excerpt:

With the Star Wars and BioWare brands attached and an unimaginable amount of effort and money expended on its making - this Herculean project would make James Cameron or Cecil B De Mille blanch - The Old Republic has been given every chance of success. It has the timing right too, arriving just as WOW players' ennui has finally begun to outweigh Blizzard's genius for reinvention, and the old warhorse's subscriber numbers have started to fall. Could we really have a contender here?

Yes. The Old Republic is a solid beast, vast in scope and sound in construction, built on foundations that were well established even before Blizzard renovated them. With one glaring exception, it is an MMO in the classic style, offering everything exactly as you expect it and to the standard to which you have become accustomed. It's a painstaking note-for-note copy of WOW's design and features, with a few additions and ever fewer changes.

To be fair, that one exception is highly conspicuous: a single-player BioWare RPG has been bolted on to this stolid MMO template, with a typical focus on stories led by players' conversation choices. It's incongruous and clumsy, but not entirely unsuccessful.

As you can probably tell from the above quote the review tends to, as seems par for the course with Eurogamer these days, feel relatively negative while still giving a relatively high (for the site) score. And a lot of the negativity I simply don't agree with. But perhaps my approach to the game is vastly different from theirs. It's not all negative though as there are some positive points and they make a couple of good points too (even among the more negative ones). For instance I kind of agree with his views on Social Points, though perhaps that's because I tend to solo a lot to begin with. As it is it's a decent review.

GameSpot has both a written review and an accompanying video. Here's the latter:

The review is quite decent and I thought that the opening comment (in both the video and the article) was quite clever. For me personally the score feels a tad lower than I'd give the game, but scores are all subjective anyway (and I haven't reached level 50 yet).

The way that IGN tends to review MMOs is by first starting a "review in progress" which they update every few days with a new bit as they continue playing the game. Then after a few weeks or so they wrap up this "journal" and write the review proper. As such they have both a review journal and the actual review up. This latter one comes accompanied with a video review, which I'll embed below:

Overall a pretty decent review with a high score for The Old Republic. I don't agree with everything they say (such as their comment on the basic attack which I personally rarely use at all). But overall it seems pretty accurate.

I also feel that the format they've chosen is quite clever, playing the game over the course of a couple of weeks and keeping a journal like they do so that players can keep track of how the reviewers are experiencing the game and then follow up with the actual review. This helps bridge the gap between release and the review being published and allows them to take a bit longer to write the review instead of rushing to be out first (hence why it's pretty much the last review I've seen published even if they started first). I wish that more sites would adopt the approach.

I'll leave it at that with the excerpts and videos. You can read the reviews in full from the list above. Overall though there's a fairly strongly positive vibe towards The Old Republic. Story is definitely lauded as its strongest characteristic and for the rest there's general agreement that the gameplay is solid. Of course, there's also agreement that it's by no means a perfect game. Views vary a bit on what the bad points are and a few people seem to generally agree on (such as how poor the Auction House interface is). There are also still a number of bugs of varying degree, from inconsequential to nearly game-breaking, but overall these don't take away from the enjoyment of the game.

I'm not sure if there will be many more reviews in the short run (in the future I do expect re-reviews from a few sites looking at how far the game has come since launch). But I do still have a bunch of other links and articles to post from over the Holiday period. It'll take some time sorting through them, but I hope to bring those in due time as well.

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