E3 2009: The Five: Star Wars: The Old Republic
The Skinny: The second Star Wars massively-multiplayer online game takes place three millennia before "Episode I," and 300 years after the first Knights of the Old Republic, which was BioWare's first entry into George Lucas' mythos. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, thousands of players will get the chance to step into the beloved Jedi, Sith and adventurer roles made famous by characters like Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and Boba Fett. Read on to see how BioWare and LucasArts plan on tapping into the Force.
1. Forget that (admittedly awesome) trailer that ran during E3, because Old Republic won't look anything like that. BioWare describes the MMO's aesthetic as stylized realism. Visually, it falls somewhere between the angular, cartoony "The Clone Wars" television show and the closer-to-life looks of most videogames.
2. The events in the trailer show the Sacking of Coruscant, the pivotal occurrence that sets up the events and factions of the game. As another sign of their commitment to delivering a deep Star Wars experience, BioWare and LucasArts claim that they've delivered the first fully-voiced MMO.
3. Expect varied classes on either side of the Force. One demo scenario featured a Bounty Hunter on Hutta trying to win the Great Hunt, a contest sponsored by the galaxy's greatest bounty hunters, the Mandalorians. Old Republic will have an entirely new storyline for each class in each faction. So, a Bounty Hunter working for the bad guys will experience different missions and different consequences than one working for the Republic.
4. Another mission with a Smuggler character showcased cover-based combat, which the developers also claim is new to MMOs. The Smuggler class owes much to Han Solo: The blaster-wielding rogue used a flash grenade and showed off hand-to-hand combat, including a kick to the gonads.
5. During one mission, an Imperial captain refused to follow a Sith Lord's orders. The two players, an Imperial Bounty Hunter and a Sith Warrior, could vote to either force the captain to comply, or kill him and complete the mission without the captain's expertise. This multiplayer dialogue system adds a welcome complication to the game's vast, branching plot paths.
The Crispy Forecast: Sunny! With the sheer amount of ways that BioWare and LucasArts aim to differentiate The Old Republic from other MMOs, the game should attract more than just Star Wars fans.
This preview is based on a developer-driven demo of the game at E3 2009.
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