So the Star Wars: The Old Republic testing phase (public beta) is now over and we are allowed to talk freely about the game. I participated in two testing weekends along with thousand other testers.
My first impressions of the game overall were quite good.
Starting from the top, character creation is straight forward. Choose your faction (Republic or Empire, of course), one of 4 races available. On to the physical customization one must choose a face, a body type, choose some scars if you want, hair, eye and skin color.
However, the customization options are not that broad. There are only 4 body types, for example: skinny and short, average height and weight, tall and muscular, and fat. It should be enough for people to look unique... but there could be more.
The gameplay is quite similar to what has been established as the 'standard' for MMORPGs by the current dominator, World of Warcraft; that came as no surprise, I wasn't expecting they would take big risks doing something completely original, but it's not a bad thing either.
Something that is quite different though is the story component of each class as they develop. Through quests, each of the classes has it's own adventure to live, whether it's from being a padawan learning to become a Jedi, or an imperial agent investigating the assassination of a Sith Lord, it equates into many new adventures every time you try a new class. There's great detail placed in the voice acting, with many of the quests having entirely acted out conversations (some you get from data pads or other text transmissions).
|The dark side has you|
At some point in time you get a ship with which you can travel from planet to planet or engage in space battles. These play more or less like a point and click game, since you don't have much control over your ship, it follows a pre determined path and your task is to make things go boom by clicking your mouse. It's fun, but disappointing in a way. It pretty much negates any kind of player versus player space fights, which I was hoping for.
The battlegrounds however are a lot of fun and offer new challenges, like a space football sort of sport where you can pass the ball to your team mates running towards a goal and scoring points, all the while being able to fight and defeat other players to save your own skin or protect the ball carrier.
I do have some grudges about it, but it being a beta, I will wait for the final product to really complain. Things like the graphics being a bit 2006ish and items only lasting a level or two before you find something better are areas I'm hoping for improvement.
I recommend you at least try this game, if you get the chance at a friend's house, or through some sort of trial. It will cater well to both fans of the Star Wars universe as well as those looking for a great MMORPG.