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A Tale of Two Games: ToR and WoW - Review!

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion
A Tale of Two Games: ToR and WoW - Review!

dvvx's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 01:39 PM | #1
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. For ToR, unfortunately, mostly the worst. This isn't my first review - I reviewed the game during the beta several times, but I was shunned by incredulous and overzealous fans. After all, it was "just" a beta. Well here we are, at the dawn of release - no longer in the beta. So where does this game stand in the grand scheme of things? How does it compare to WoW, SWG, Rift, GW2? Lets find out.

Who am I? I'm some dude that led a top-US CS:S team for many years, was a part of two top-10 WoW guilds, and played in several WoW Arena Tournies (including the CGS invitational) and many many CS tournaments, including the CPL. I also had a stint working for an indie game developer several years ago. I like to think that I know what I'm talking about, and usually, I do.

Story. Story. Story. We've heard it over and over again. Bioware has really hammered this home - much how Vincent Chase is Queens Boulevard, The Old Republic is story. And story is one of the few battles ToR wins. The voice over quality is top notch and primary class quests are mostly interesting and engaging. Some may be deterred by the incessant use of family drama as a plot device since it gets old pretty fast. With that said, don't expect Chaucer, but the writing is sufficient.

Unfortunately, the side quests are problematic and suffer from trivial subject matters ("blah blah click some turrets") or endless fetch questing (go to X, come back to Y, go to X again, now back to Y). This wouldn't have been a problem 10 years ago, but 2012 is almost here. WoW has moved us past the trivialities of fetch questing and now we do cool stuff like lassoing dragons, bombing runs or mind-controlling giants. ToR pretends like there hasn't been an entire generation of MMORPGs since KOTOR and suffers for it greatly. Bonus quests are an interesting touch, but more often than not, they insult the player. Here you are doing the most trivial of tasks (ex: clicking control panels - a Bioware favorite) and a bonus quest pops up that asks you to kill 30 of the same type of mob. And just like that, we're all sent back to the late 90s. Bioware has a lot to learn from Jeff Kaplan.

On many levels, however, the VO is a technical achievement. Ordinarily, I'd have no problem with pouring so much money into something like voice over, but the gameplay significantly suffered from it. To me, that's unforgivable.

The crux of a good MMORPG is solid combat. I expect combat to be fluid, responsive, and logical. ToR has a pretty good grasp of what it wants to do, but doesn't quite reach the bar set by better MMOs. First of all, the "heroic" combat Bioware preached for years and years isn't as heroic as they made it out to be. Animations are often choppy and blocking animations seem to happen at random times (as opposed to having weapons make contact). But lets face it, it's not a big deal. What is a big deal, however, is the lack of an auto-attack.

This quizzical gameplay choice hurts more than it helps. It means that the gamer needs to manually press 1-1-1-1-1 (or right-click like a madman) to use the regular "white attack" ability and to generate resources that one may use (in the case of the Warrior-archetypes). Not only is this boring, but it literally provides zero gameplay improvement - what is the reasoning behind no auto-attack? Who knows.

Stealth and cover are very underwhelming. Cover, in particular, is nigh worthless in PvP. The conical radius, the spent GCD, the fact that 4 classes can easily close range, and the fact that almost every class has a knock-back should be very clear indicators that a mechanic like cover is a terrible, terrible idea.

Stealth, as mentioned, is very odd. On one hand, it tries to mimic what stealth is in WoW (a fundamental mechanic of classes like rogues and feral druids), while more often than not it becomes merely a trivial escape mechanism. It needs to be fundamentally reworked - stealth should be a game mechanic, not a novelty.

PvE and Leveling
Admittedly, a high point of the game are the instances (known as flashpoints). Black Talon, Athiss, Hammer Station, etc. are all fairly well-designed. Mechanics are tried and true: get out of the fire, interrupt heals, kite bad stuff. This is where ToR really does feel like "WoW in space" and it's also arguably the best part of the game. As a matter of fact, the only reason I'm still playing is because I'm curious to see if the large-scale Operations will be as good as Flashpoints.

Leveling is fairly smooth, but the fact that the world is sharded can be distracting and does discourage grouping. Heroic 2+ man quests can be fun, but I found myself skipping them more often than not - the time invested doesn't seem worth it. During hardcore leveling periods, I also found myself skipping all VO. I don't care about your life story, I just want to get this quest out of the way. I feel somewhat guilty about it, but these are the scenarios that make me feel like side-quest VO is a swing and a miss - a very expensive miss.

PvP is a joke, there's not much more to say. It's an insult to any form of competitive activity. Huttball is one of the worst ideas I've ever seen implemented in an MMO: Warsong Gulch with a passable flag? Really? What irks me most is that someone actually made money coming up with such a terrible idea. Inconsistent traps, obnoxious commentators, bad layout, Huttball has it all. There are 15-year-olds that designed better Unreal Tournament maps. Sure, there may be some occasional mindless fun to be had with Huttball, but there's no real value here.

Alderaan is significantly better, but doesn't even compare to the wide variety of BGs present in MMOs like WoW or Rift. Ignoring WoW's trailblazing here, Rift's "Black Garden" was a particularly awesome innovation. World PvP is more or less nonexistent.

If ToR was Communist Russia, PvP would be human rights.

Companions were lauded by Bioware as being an evolutionary step as far as the genre is concerned. Unfortunately, they turned out to be glorified pets. They even have an ability pet bar just like in WoW! Some companions are interesting, some are boring. They do seem to break up the monotony of the often morose landscapes, but they are basically just pets.

Companion crafting is a great idea, however. Not having to worry about crafting stuff yourself is pretty neat. ToR sometimes surprises you with interesting and progressive innovations. Unfortunately, these moments are far and few in between.

Does The Old Republic have a chance? Not with what we see on day 1. No chance. Fanboys and fangirls may try to make a case for ToR, but the reality is that there is no case for ToR. There are many changes that need to make their way into ToR for it to be a competitor to 2nd tier MMOs, let alone giants like WoW.

UI mods have been requested since beta. A combat log has been requested since beta. There are absolutely no features that even begin to address the social element of the game: guild achievements, guild skill trees, etc. There's a need for competitive PvP, LFG finders, etc, etc. These shouldn't be post-release patches, this is 2012! These are basic elements of modern MMORPGs. I don' think ToR is finished.

The only reason ToR won't die in 6 months is "Bioware" and "Star Wars." Will these two names carry the burden for a year? Two? I doubt it. But then again, I could be wrong. is still going. Don't fool yourself though. It's dead.

You may berate me now, but don't forget this review 1 year down the line. ToR is dead. Long live Titan?

Semitote's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 01:41 PM | #2
Huttball is awesome.

I can't wait for Monday Night Huttball nights. OH SNAP THAT'S TONIGHT!

Oh, wait.. servers will be down... ONE WEEK FROM TODAY - MONDAY NIGHT HUTTBALL BEGINS!

Also - I disagree on the companions. I'm level 50 and it's great to be able to call on whichever type of companion I need. If I'm taking more damage, I pull out my healer companion. If I need to kill stuff fast, I pull out my DPS companion. I'm a tank, so I haven't had any use for a tank companion. Is that a glorified pet? I'm not sure. What exactly are you expecting your companion to contribute to your combat and mission experience? When you make a decision that pleases your companion, you gain affection with them. And in some missions your companion will intervene and add more dialogue to the mission making them a bit more than a pet. Do you want more intervention from the companion? Not sure what you're after here or what classifies SWTOR companions as "glorified pets."

I mean, it is annoying that you have to hotkey your companion attack button to attack your target because they seem to just attack whatever has the highest aggro for them. And I guess it seems rather silly when your companions just stand in area effects on the ground and make no effort to move out and you end up having to toggle their passive on and off to move them out of stuff. But by the same means, it adds another skill aspect to the game. I like it.

TradewindNQ's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 01:41 PM | #3
Why do people insist on comparing games? Play both if you want to, or don't...nobody really cares.

crazyhorsek's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 01:46 PM | #4
Man if you think pvp in wow is good... I have nothing to say to you until you actually try a real pvp mmo like Dark Age of Camelot.

Arena guys... oh well... what else can I say? Oh yes... we seem to be missing orcs and elves also. Is it "being an arena player" a bragging right? It should be a shame... not something you should brag about. Same as playing CS:S... I play CS since beta 2.4 and CS:S is a joke... but oh well... I'm just old school anyway, these "new versions" of CS and "PVP" your generation came up with are just faint shadows of how things were and how they should be.

Oh and Rift... is just a bad game. Sure it looks good, but its paper-thin lore is awful. Its so shallow that if I wanted to drink it I would be eating dirt.

EDIT: Just so you dont think I'm on a mindless bashing, I do agree with you on the "sharded" stuff... I hate to be "ported to another instance" where my friend or guildie is. That I do agree with you - its stupid and really breaks the point of "feeling like an mmo". Cause lets face it, "feeling like an mmo" is really about seeing other ppl running around and knowing those are real ppl like you playing. I do agree with you on this "sharded" crap.

Krypto-wyrd's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 01:48 PM | #5
It has to be done....

Can i have your stuff?

Beatmiser's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 01:50 PM | #6
You know, it's a fair review from your perspective. Sadly though I could care less about WoW as my main MMO experience has been DAOC, MxO, and EVE. Anyone who uses WoW as their comparison point is automatically rendered irrelevant to me.

Just to add, when you are trying to craft a review, calling people 'Fanboy' and 'Fangirl' because they have differing opinions crushes any credibility.

TradewindNQ's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 01:50 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Beatmiser View Post
I could care less


Anareon's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 01:50 PM | #8
I disagree with the OP. The game is amazing. I am having a blast and plan on staying. Also I am sick to death of game comparisons. If WoW is so fantastic then stay there and play that. I played WoW for a long time and there was a time where I enjoyed it. I will not be going back.

Semitote's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 01:51 PM | #9
Comparing a finely tuned game with 7+ years of polish to a brand new release is rather unfair as well.

Though, I guess the world is unfair and SWTOR has to be compared to what else is currently out there - not to where the other things were at their release.

dvvx's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 01:52 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by Anareon View Post
I disagree with the OP. The game is amazing. I am having a blast and plan on staying. Also I am sick to death of game comparisons. If WoW is so fantastic then stay there and play that. I played WoW for a long time and there was a time where I enjoyed it. I will not be going back.
The comparison is warranted because a) they are both MMORPGs and b) Bioware/EA explicitly asserted that they are going after the prime competitor (WoW).