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   I came in about midstream as far as the overall beta test for TOR was concerned.  The game itself has come a long way since October in terms of graphical polish and some of the mechanics of the game.  The TOR beta recently closed and I would like to say it left a Star Wars shaped hole in my gaming heart, but alas, it did not.  The game was good, but not great.

The much vaunted voice acting was immersive to a certain extent, but because of practical limitations, most of the conversation choices during the voice acted cut scenes were of little consequence to your character or the story arc you happened to be following.  So, playing as a Jedi Knight, I could sass talk my Master, follow my emotions and generally be a jerk during my time on the training planet and I would still get to the end of the content with roughly the same character stats/condition as if I had been the super supreme serene jedi mistress that was truly at one with the force.   Actions with out consequences tend to make the choices offered superficial and therefore unimportant and ultimately skipped over, just like the crusty blocks of quest text prevalent in other MMO’s.

The style of other MMO’s is what I was hoping to avoid in playing TOR.  Therein lies the crux of Bioware’s problem, they need to be different… but not TOO different as to make people shy away from the game.  This leaves TOR looking a lot like WOW, only with a different IP and setting.  Do we really need more of the World of Warcraft style of interaction?  Apparently the answer is a resounding yes.  The problems of TOR begin with the interface…

The GUI of TOR at the time of the beta was not customizable at all.  You could have a total of four visible bars, two along the bottom and one on the left and one the right.  Of course there was the alt-shift hot keyed ones, but those are a pain in the arse, not to mention virtually unreachable while you desperately attempt to stun that damn Sith Juggernaut who is cutting you a new breathing aperture with his lightsaber.  The other problem is, too many abilities and buttons to press while in the heat of combat.  Playing a melee character was pretty much out of the question for me as circle strafing while having to keep someone in range of your glowstick-o-doom and having the umpteen number of hot-keys necessary to beat them down was a little to steep a curve.  Playing  a ranged character was significantly easier, and could easily do the damage that any of the melee characters could do with less button stress.

Stress was common in PVP as all levels where thrown together for most matches, and the extra abilities the higher levels get did make the difference in one on one fights.  However, with a little teamwork and communication the warzones, even for low level characters was fun and enjoyable.  I’ll cover the PVP I did in another post.  :>

This is probably enough for my first post on my TOR beta impressions, I’ll cover character generation and PVP in future posts.

An Open Letter to BioWare on The Old Republic MMO

As a single consumer, I have very little impact as to what goes on and into TOR.  I am writing this letter to voice concerns over the development of the game and more personally, what would make me happy and want to purchase the game.

My concerns are twofold.  Perhaps the most troubling is the lack of a third faction playable Faction in the TOR universe.  I would like think that the EA-Overmind would have seen the dynamicism a third faction brings to player versus player (PvP) interactions.  The prime example would be Mythic’s Dark Age of Camelot that you swallowed not to long ago.  The three way conflict in DAOC virtually guaranteed that some sort of action was going on somewhere in the virtual world.  Certainly, it was not perfect and even tri-faction PvP gets tiresome after awhile.  However, the novelty of two faction PvP wears off even more quickly as there are simply less options available to work with.  TOR seems destined to head down the well worn and unimaginative binary path of good vs. evil, light vs. dark, red vs. blue etc.   You speak of story and characterization as a key part of this MMO, yet when it comes to PvP, all the depth of character and backstory goes down the tubes and it is back to binary basics. Read the rest of this entry »

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