The Tale of our Hero
The land of MMOs is a dangerous one. There is a monster of biblical proportions casting a shadow over all of it. Many heroes have fallen, none of them even scarring it. Many heroes have tried to learn from it, study it, take its soul and call it their own, but none have managed to even come close to giving it a good fight. It takes years of training and the best armor and weapons just to be prepared to fight it. But for what purpose? The land of MMOs is littered with treasure. Treasure so great that the feeble minded ones keep throwing themselves at the monster, and all of them losing everything in the process.
Such is the tale of our hero Star Wars: The Old Republic. TOR was a bright eyed child, an idealistic child, with a great ambition. He had a wealthy father, and a mother who loved telling stories. His father wanted him to be great, so he invested in him. His mother believed in him and taught him that stories are more powerful than swords.
So as TOR grew up, people started to see potential in him. His mother was well known for her stories, and people trusted that TOR would have a story to tell too. And he had a lot of stories to tell. His father’s wealth was boundless, so with his support TOR grew and he was handsome, big and impressive. It was truly a sight to behold.
On the big day TOR donned his armor, grabbed his sword and headed out into the land of MMOs. The monster, WoW, recently engulfed millions of people. But WoW was weakening. His grasp on its mindless followers was loosening and it was starting to lose power. This was TOR’s chance, his only one.
Riding his steed called Hype, he charged WoW. It was a beautiful charge and the behemoth staggered. With a flurry of hits TOR freed millions from WoW’s grasp who quickly joined him. But as days and night passed TOR was getting winded. At first he began to feel tired, then he began to lose strength and finally he began to lose followers. As weeks passed people started realizing that TOR was no better than the monster. They started to realize that storytelling is not meat and they started to lose faith in him. In one month’s time TOR found his ranks thinned, and he started to feel the same fear that Age of Conan and Warhammer: Age of Reckoning felt before him. The ungodly visage in front of him stood undaunted by his valiant efforts, and its cold shadow was covering him more and more.
And thus another hero hath fallen. His father shook his head in disappointment, regretting the huge investment he made trusting that his son would emerge victor in the end. His mother, worried, shed tears as she saw her son unloved and alone in the cruel, cruel world of the Internet. Countless disillusioned returned to WoW’s warm bellows, or remained wondering the world seeking refuge in the embraces of foreign monsters overseas, knowing that it is just a matter of time ‘till they return to their one true king.
But there is another who shows promise. His name is Guild Wars 2. WoW is preparing for this battle as we speak. But WoW is an old monster, it is sluggish, it knows that it is not long for this world, that its power is diminishing as we speak. Will GW2 be the one to replace it as Lord of MMO land or will his head be just another trophy for WoW to hang on its walls? Only time will tell.
The Actual Game
Bioware tried something new with TOR. They tried to introduce story into an MMO, a thing which the genre was sorely lacking. And they succeeded in that admirably. Actually, admirably is a strong word. They did it well. The fact of the matter is that they tried to throw dust in our eyes and make us believe that the moral system actually has any impact on the game. All the moral system does is give you points which unlock abilities. It’s detrimental to stray from the light or dark path once you set out on it, because your character will suck in the end game.
With that being said, the question remains: What about the rest of the game? It’s WoW. Simple as that. TOR is just another WoW clone that uses the story as a gimmick. Which is a new low for video game developers. I never thought I would say that the storyline of a game would be a gimmick, but in this case it is. Bioware thought it could take down WoW using this, but you cannot clone WoW (badly) add a storyline and expect to beat it. It’s admirable that they tried though, but they forgot that MMOs are not single-player games. In a single-player game, bad gameplay can often be overlooked if the story is good.
So is Star Wars: The Old Republic the Game of the Year? Some people call it the TORtanic. Any game that has its name linked to a disastrous maritime accident cannot even be considered for Game of the Year. It is bad, and Bioware tried to trick us with 25 GB of voice acting. But if the award is in the MMO category sure, no other MMO came out this year.