A REVIEW OF SWTOR
For a while now I have been living with Star Wars: The Old Republic. At the beginning of my roommates endeavours with the game, I took only a passing interest, but as his loyalty grew, so did my need to understand what was so much more interesting about SWTOR the MMORPG than listening to me talking to him about my day!
Firstly I realised that the game was perfect for amateur comedians looking for a new challenge. Those who really, really, really enjoyed that game where you can name heroes and villains with amazing superpower puns such as Doom Laut, The Master Racer, Regina Dentata, Mime Fuhrer – City of Heroes, can now up the ante and spend hours trying to get away with names that are a play on words when paired with Darth (Darth Marengi, Darth Pineda, Darth Brooks) or Master (Master Chef, Master Blaster...). Moreover with the games outright ban on obscene language it is a way to try to push your luck using the power of phonics Sukit (“Haha!” he gloated – “I can’t believe I got away with calling her Suck – It....”)
Then of course, there is the joy of deciding on the looks of the character. Berating others for going for “obvious” tattoo choices whilst decorating your two giant head tendrils, or trunks, or whatever it is that sprouts out of those poor women’s heads. Personally I was boggled by the head protrusions, did they have feelings? Could they be controlled? How often did your boyfriend roll onto one in the night and crush it? Did you need to moisturise them? Are they an erogenous zone? If a woman’s head protrusions get wider does that mean she is fat, or is it a good thing like lovely thick hair? In the end, when asked my opinion on making a new character, I didn’t choose one of them, I chose a Sith. In the spirit of doing funny naming I even suggested that he call it Delia Sith – but apparently since the computer doesn’t display the race of the character after its name - my pun was rendered pointless and therefore ignored. All of the outfits seemed lovely and it was really nice to see the thought that went into them. “Do you think that makes her look to slutty? I don’t want people to think she is cheap...”
Personally this would be enough for me – I can waste hours on design your own bridal gown websites and on the wonderful weight loss simulators where you make a model of yourself and then make it get massive and tiny. But then I remembered that this was a game.
The running around to do stuff for other people so that they give you promotion so that one or the other of you can eventually be fairly evenly matched in power and then one of you can prepare to betray the other one (but usually pass a message through a naughty slave who forewarns the other) is all lovely. I liked the love interest bits too. Some of those women are outrageous. I think that the running around in this game probably less difficult than Portal, because you don’t fall through walls and come out somewhere else, which I thought was stupid, so SWTOR gets a Piggy Point from me for letting walking be walking. But there is battling so it’s not all relaxation. It is lucky there is battling because the scenery is ok but it doesn’t enchant me like Dear Esther. What I find hard to follow about the battling is that they battle you back AT THE SAME TIME. Surely, like Worms, you are supposed to have your go, do some damage and then sit and let them have a go?
My roommate said the crew at SWTOR spent lots of money voicing the cut scenes and conversations, which is nice, because the characters have a lot of different voices – not like when you listen to an audio book and one poor bloke has to try to do all the accents! However, the conversation options worried me a lot. Because sometimes my roommate was like “Go on then, what should I say?” Now I hate decisions. I hate all decisions, but particularly where there are limited choices. Like if someone says “What sweeties do you want me to get you from the shop” and doesn’t give me options to pick I can usually think of something that takes my fancy and then stick to that, but if someone is like “Shall I get you a Snickers, or some Peanut Butter Cups, or some Skittles” then I think, ok, I want peanut, so it’s one of the first two, but do I want smooth or crunchy? Then I think that if I can’t decide between them I obviously don’t want either of them enough and perhaps that means I should have some lovely sugary fruity sweeties to be on the safe side. That’s the problem. Do I want to ask permission to board the ship politely, do I want to ask permission in a humorous flippant way, or fuck that, do I want to demand admission?
This dilemma is not one that my roommate shares and he merrily blunders his way through conversations. However the game is not without moral turmoil because of the Massively Multiplayer Online element. Apparently you get credits and use them to buy stuff, which makes sense, and you can share credits with other people, which sort of makes sense but I bet that means girl players get to fleece unsuspecting boy players, as my roommate does to his friend Paul. “Oh Paul, I really want a new type of tunic that matches the hilt on my light saber, oh please can you lend me the credits, oh please?” But then also if you are working as a team you can put some stuff that you have acquired but you are not sure you need into a repository, I guess a bit like one of those book stands you get on holiday, where people sort of hope you put something in before you take something out. BUT it is so easy to accidentally click something that you really need into the shared repository by accident and then merrily log off and leave it there. Other players, such as my roommate, will express their surprise and doubt about said items presence – “Oh, I wonder if he really meant to put this gilded light sabre case worth 24,000 credits in here?” and here comes the moral dilemma. Do you take it? No, leave it, he’ll realise and come and pick it up. But what if someone else takes it? At least if you take it and then he mentions it, you know you’ll give it back! Won’t you?
Because it’s not like you have to look the guy in the eye. In fact this game allows you to either voice communicate with the other players, or to type to them a la MSN messenger, in a box at the side. Now I am a bit confused because I would have thought that typing during game play would rather detract from your ability to walk around and pick stuff up and fight effectively, but then again I am still working on W A S D to walk around. It seems that the charm of typing is better than speaking to people anyway. So that’s nice.
Actually the thing is, since he doesn’t talk to people out loud it turns out to be a fairly quiet game, except the haunting music you get in the loading screens, bum be berrberr, bum be berrrrr.... Oh and the cut scenes, which are timed almost perfectly for you to be watching a TV show on the iPad at the same time as playing, hear a gag but then just as the punch-line looms, you have to pause the show so you can hear the cut scene. This might be why my roommate, when asked quite how he had managed to play for 12 hours, breaking only for lunch, he said “Star Wars is a bit like Data Entry: after a while you don’t even know you are doing it and you think about lots of other lovely things”. Doesn’t this mean it is a crap game? I ponder. No don't be silly...there are spaceships!!!!!