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Before it’s launch in 2003, Star Wars: Galaxies was easily one of the most eagerly-anticipated MMOs of all time. Eager gamers devoured every piece of new information regarding the game, and yearned for their opportunity to jump into the Star Wars universe and rub elbows with the likes of Han Solo and Boba Fett.
Galaxies unfortunately turned out to be something of a disappointment. Stalwart gamers hung on for awhile, hoping that the buggy, stripped-down game would be fixed and that the many absent promised features would be implemented. Interest in the game waned and it is now viewed by many as a premier example of wasted opportunity in the MMO space.
Last October, RPG developer BioWare finally confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in MMO history: the development of a new Star Wars MMO set several hundred years after the events in their own Knights of the Old Republic franchise. Fanboys all over the internet rejoiced at this “new hope.” BioWare has a fantastic track record and Star Wars: The Old Republic has the potential to be everything series fans hoped Galaxies would be.
This is not Bioware's first foray into the Sci-Fi genre. Bioware experienced enormous commercial and critical success with the XBOX and PC Game Mass Effect. Mass Effect 2 and 3 are still scheduled for release in the next few years.
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The story of The Old Republic is one of galactic conflict. A tenuous peace has been struck between the forces of the resurgent Sith and the Jedi Order. The Jedi have been forcibly relocated from the Jedi Temple on Coruscant to the birthplace of the order, the planet Tython. Meanwhile, the Sith have established an academy on Korriban. Like many modern MMORPGs, players in The Old Republic will have to make a choice between the two factions.
According to a 1up.com interview with BioWare founders Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk, the focus of The Old Republic is squarely on the player’s experience. Instead of playing as the everyday joes of Galaxies, each player in The Old Republic is the hero of their own story.
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BioWare plans to incorporate their trademark moral choices into the new MMORPG as well. According to Muzyka, players will be forced with choices that will have real consequences for their character. Certain NPCs and storylines will open and close based upon the choices made by the player.
The game is still in the early stages of development, so these vague details are pretty much all we know so far about how this system will be implemented. Given the excellent implementation of similar systems in the Knights of the Old Republic games and Mass Effect, though, there is little doubt that BioWare will deliver on these promises.
The Bounty Hunter is the only class officially confirmed by the developers so far, but if screenshots are any indication, players will also have the ability to play as a Jedi or a Sith. Players will also have the opportunity to team up with various types of companion NPCs, all culled from Star Wars lore.
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Game Content and Scope
Content-wise, the game is said to be massive. According to Lead Designer Greg Ohlen, “This is a HUGE game. Just to give you an idea of how huge this game is, we were taking a look at it, and it has more story content than every single other BioWare game that's come before put together.” The Old Republic will include dozens of worlds to which players can travel. Some worlds are controlled solely by the forces of the Republic, some by the Sith Empire, and others will be the site of skirmishes between the two controlled by neither.
So far, no release date has been confirmed for the game, but speculation puts its release somewhere in 2010. BioWare has refused to comment on the possibility of a console iteration of the game, but has just as conspicuously failed to deny it.
As s Star Wars fan who found himself disappointed with Star Wars: Galaxies, I couldn’t be more excited about Star Wars: The Old Republic. Everything BioWare touches seems to turn to gold and I can only hope they can deliver on their lofty promises of a unique story filled with difficult moral choices. If they can deliver a truly compelling Star Wars MMO, the seemingly unassailable throne upon which World of Warcraft currently sits may be legitimately threatened in the near future.
If this game is half as good as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic or even Mass Effect, Bioware will have another winner on their hands.
Reviews and previews for Star Wars The Old Republic.