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Bioware and Star Wars
In the video game world Bioware is a household name. They are known for making triple A role playing games, both based on franchise worlds like Dungeons and Dragons, and worlds of their own creation. Back in 2003, Bioware released their first Star Wars title, Knights of the Old Republic. It was a huge success, selling millions of units and winning a barrage of different awards (even Bright Hub put it at #1). It looks like The Old Republic will be a triumphant return to the Star Wars universe for Bioware, this time in an MMO. This is not the first massive multi-player game to be based on the Star Wars universe. Star Wars Galaxies also came out in 2003 but did not garner the long lasting success of Knights of the Old Republic. Although Star Wars Galaxies has a small hardcore following it was never able to hold the interest of the mass majority of gamers.
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The Old Republic
The Old Republic takes place in a relatively unknown time in the Star Wars universe, in between Bioware's Knights of the Old Republic and hundreds of years before the movies that started it all. It is a time of turmoil in the galaxy. There are four factions in the game, two aligned with the light and two with the dark side of the force. There are thousands of Jedi and Sith vying for control of the republic. Bioware is doing some very unique things with their first MMO. For starters every character, companion, NPC, vendor... really everybody, has a voice-over. Also Bioware is taking a very unique stance on questing. In the Old Republic there will be mostly class quests. The quests will have you make decisions, and those decisions will change the outcome of the quests, and the character's rewards for the quests.
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The Worlds of the Old Republic
So far Bioware has shown us nine different worlds that can be explored in the Old Republic. Some we have seen in other Star Wars games, some we've seen in the movies, and some never before. Each has its own look and feel. You can go from the city metropolis of Coruscant to the lush forests of Tython to the biological wasteland of Hutta. Each world gives a unique perspective and culture that your character will have to adapt to. Bioware has yet to announce how much terrain there is to explore on each planet, with the exception of Curoscant where we have been told there are five levels of the city world to adventure through, but it looks like there will be a lush universe available at launch.
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Character Classes in the Old Republic
The Old Republic has four Jedi classes and four Sith classes. These classes are set up like nothing we've seen in an MMO to date. Most massive online games have the same types of class archetypes: the tank, the healer, and the magic-user. Bioware obviously couldn't walk away from these archetypes completely but neither do any of their classes fit directly into these norms.
The four Jedi classes are the Trooper, the Smuggler, the Jedi Knight and the Jedi Consular. Although each class seems to have tank attributes, the Trooper and Jedi Knight would be the closest to the traditional tank archetype. The Smuggler would be most closely related to a rogue or hunter class. The Jedi Consular is a beast all its own, maybe a distant relative of the Paladin class.
The Sith have their own classes. Unlike other MMOs these classes do not directly mirror their good natured counterparts, although there are similarities. The Sith are comprised of the Bounty Hunter, the Imperial Agent, The Sith Warrior and the Sith Inquisitor.
Each class, both light and dark, has its own story line that will be followed as you level your way through the game. Each choice made while questing will shape your character and determine what skills they will gain.
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Beta-Testing the Old Republic
No release date has been announced for the Old Republic as of yet, although it is expected to be some time in 2010. You may not be able to buy it yet, but Bioware is offering some players a chance to play the Old Republic in their closed beta. You can sign up for your chance to get in to the closed beta on The Old Republic's website, but don't hold your breath for an invite. There was such an overwhelming response the day Bioware announced the closed beta that the huge influx of traffic brought down the website's database. Bioware even made a public apology for the issue. One way or the other, it looks like the Old Republic is going to get a lot of attention over the next year.
Reviews and previews for Star Wars The Old Republic.