Monday, October 24, 2011

Your Seventeeth Assignment: A Critical Eye

Flight Control, Agent Ancestor reporting in.  I'm on approach to the hangar bay but I'm noticing stress fractures in the hull.  Requesting permission to inspect the ship for more problems.

Lock and load, agents!  My love for TOR is unabashed and fanboyish.  I am a staunch proponent of all things Bioware.  My Collector's Edition was ordered in the first 6 hours it was available.  But, fellow agents, there are some things TOR needs help with.  I'll cast a very critical eye at TOR's blemishes today.

Questing.  Oh, questing.  The bane of many MMO players, the quest is the main vehicle for both experience and gear in many modern games.  TOR is no different; you will spend 95% of your time questing.  And in many ways, questing in TOR is no different than questing in any other game.  Arrive in town.  Speak to distressed looking inhabitants.  Go kill X number of bad things.  Return for reward.  TOR does provide bonus missions that spice things up, but for a great many quests in a galaxy far, far away it follows this exact formula.  I wish the holocomm was used more extensively, but alas, it is few and far between that I can complete a quest in the field.  Also, where are all the quest givers getting these blasters, armor pieces, and special items?  One will never know.

Phasing.  Phasing is used extensively in TOR, but you won't recognize its form.  Phasing is used for class-specific areas during class quests.  Most of the time, it's well done and really brings the game world to life.  The NPC you're speaking with will refer to you and you alone, enhancing the realism of the scene.  There will be no other PCs running around being stupid in the background.  It's done fairly well and used judiciously.  However ... all phasing, at one point or another, is just a way to split up a group.  If you are in the same group with the same character class and you enter an instanced story area, the other person mystically disappears into their own story instance.  It can be very jarring.

Space combat.  Now, I like space combat.  I like Bioware's iteration of it.  By turning it from a space sim into a cinematic rail shooter, they've given players a very story-driven non-questing thing to do.  It's very beautiful and well done.  In the end though, it's just Starfox 64.  Pretty Starfox, but still Starfox.  It does lack that epic Star Wars feel.  I don't know if a full space-sim is in the works (I doubt it), but it's what many fans want.  I just happen to disagree.

Voiceover.  Ok, so story, story, story.  The voiceover is amazing, there's no doubt about it.  But after two or three times, you'll get tired of it and look for that spacebar to skip the scenes.  Sorry, but that's the truth.  Voiceover owns, but once you've heard Orphan Timmy tell you seven times about his missing mom, you just don't officially care anymore.

Combat.  They say it's heroic, and for the most part it is ... compared to other MMOs.  There is nothing truly heroic (or innovative) about TOR's combat.  There's no auto-attack, sure, but that just means I can't /afk for a sandwich in a fight.  In TOR, you fight 3-4 mobs at once instead of 1 at a time.  There's nothing groundbreaking about it.

'But Ancestor,' you say, 'you love TOR!'  Yes, fellow Agent, I do.  I love it in ways that would be illegal in 48 states and Puerto Rico.  But don't go in thinking that the game will fart X-Wings and poop rainbows.  You will only be disappointed.  What TOR does is provide the most polished, most immersive MMO to date.  But it's still an MMO.  You have to quest.  You have to kill animals for no apparent reason.  And you have to save Timmy's mom.


Fly safe, shoot straight!  For the Glory of the Empire!

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