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Screens & Tech

'Star Wars: The Old Republic' delivers with complex storylines, rich voice talent

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Star Wars: The Old Republic is not just action, but storytelling.

When it comes to Star Wars, a massively-multiplayer-online world not unlike World of Warcraft seems like a no-brainer: hundreds of untold stories, vast new worlds, and untapped Force to draw from, what could go wrong? A lot, potentially, as Star Wars: Galaxies proved back in 2003. MMO's are no small feat to design, and for George Lucas to allow another franchise game (given that Galaxies flub) you can bet he would demand a company strong and smart enough to build a product worthy of the name.

Enter BioWare, creators of the massively successful Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games. Four years of anticipation later, Star Wars: The Old Republic reveals a rich, vibrant online world brimming with intricate story lines and overflowing with top-notch voice acting and gameplay.

For those who don't thrill to MMO, The Old Republic won't convert you, but for the rest of us the differences from primary competitor World of Warcraft are numerous enough to make the experience fresh and exciting. Character creation is straightforward with players choosing a side, race, and class: The Alliance is home of the mighty Jedi and Republic troopers, while the Empire houses the Sith lords and the infamous bounty hunters. No matter which you choose, you'll be quickly swept away to familiar planets such as Tatooine, Hoth, and Alderaan.

Unlike games that emphasize quest grinding and level advancement above all else, The Old Republic's greatest feature is the amount of story infused into every corner. Not only does each class have a storyline that arcs across their entire 50-level span, but rich narrative context developed in every side mission intensifies the feeling of accomplishment that comes with level progression. Conversing with fully-voiced AI characters add an elegant level of detail on an already impressive game environment.

For the more competitive crowd, the player-versus-player aspect has plenty of potential, yet currently leaves something to be desired. The higher level characters have an entire planet devoted to PvP objectives and missions, yet most players avoid fighting in favor of helping each other complete their missions in exchange for experience and better gear. Fortunately, other PvP arenas deliver team competition, and the new sport "Huttball" is sure to become the fan favorite in the coming months.

Having only completed two of the eight storylines offered, I can't claim to have seen all of what this fantastic game has to offer. With the expedient supply of patches and new content rolling out, there is no doubt that Old Republic will continue to offer new skills, missions, and stories for the players to conquer. Whether you pay by time cards or use Jedi mind tricks on your parents, this is one game you'll be happy to subscribe to for a long time. •

Star Wars: The Old Republic

$59.99 for game, $15/month subscription

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