You may come to the conclusion that our reviews do not count, being those of BioWare fans.
So it may come as a surprise to most but in my case at least, this could not be further from the truth.
Sure I want this game to become the best it can be and even before my hands on time, I was in the mind set that I was going to play the game come what may.
But I have been in countless open and closed beta events and one thing is clear. Nothing is going to improve if all you do is praise the game you are testing.
The only games I can remember playing BioWare related were Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights, both I found uninteresting. So I can not in away be counted on any fan-boy list that you could dream up. My interest in TOR just stems from this being an mmo and a Star Wars IP.
With all it's faults SWG left an effect on me, that needed to be filled by the next Star Wars mmo. I did not care which team took on the mammoth task I would still take an active interest in the project.
If SWTOR had been a single-player game I would not have the slightest bit of interest in it. Such is my mindset of staying in what I consider the better end of the spectrum that is mmo's.
As such I tried to stay objective when I hit BioWare Austin. And maybe, just maybe, I could be in a position to address some concerns that I, and many others where having about the game.
Trying to experience as much of the game as I could over the weekend. Would rarely bring to light any or all problematic areas that would needed some attention. Unless you are in full blown testing and have an extended time playing, there is very little chance you are going to come up with something that has not been fixed or is in the process of being fixed.
Though I did get stuck in the world a couple of times and truth be told. One was of my own doing, trying to enter a red quest gate-way. Which is set aside for a another class quest line. The other was encountered clambering up part of the landscape.
With a quick /stuck chat command released me from the predicament I now fond myself in. You will come across these type of things is any mmo. Constant patching, testing and play time these things are easily addressed.
There was only one point in the eight or so hours of play time, that I came close to anything that would be considered a graphical glitch. This was in the hutt palace. A short corridor a perfect place to find this type of thing.
This was more of a shimmer effect on the floor. I had already passed the very point five times already. I only noticed it when I tried to look under the floor I was now standing on. In normal game-play you could in all essence, never notice it unless like me, you set a out goal to uncover such things.
As for the rest of the games GFX. No amount of screen shot's could of prepared me for what I was now seeing. The build we played was the same as the one used at Pax East.
Everything down to the smallest detail was stunning.
I often found myself standing just looking at textures and the scenery that littered this world.
Normally I find little to no interest in game GFX, heck I played Ultima Online for years. The biggest GFX shy mmo to grace my PC.
Yet you can sense the time and effort BioWare have placed in the game. There is a planet or moon above Hutta, that I spent way too long watching.
Many things you may not noticed just every now and then. You pause, and think. Darn did they get that right.
As it stands now even before any new builds come into play. This is by far the best over GFX I have encountered in any mmo to date.
Run/walk animations a thing that holds a concern, with many of the TOR followers. Well I can say as I played it was a none issue. I guess I did not spend time watching myself skip across the world. As you do tend to focus on that you are running into.
I can't say anything stood out as being off putting to the rest of the game. I would like to see what other sites thought about it. On the day none of the sites even mentioned the subject. Take that as you will.
The buffs you had on your Avatar were kind of on the small side. It was hard to see what they were and where they were placed at the bottom of the screen, did not help this matter.
The mini map was also smaller than what I would of liked. And pacing it on the bottom of the screen I found myself constantly check it, and running into the agro range of mobs.
I tend to always scan the horizon when moving around an mmo, and having the mini map at the top of the screen you can find points of interest more easily.
I totally missed a Holocron on my mini map as the placement was so out of whack. That time I got stuck was running up to this.
The icon although it showed up passed me by, and it was only the little explorer inside of me that uncovered it.
The full overhead map had everything you could ever want from a game. It faded well as you moved along, and still you did not loose sight of where you were heading.
Sound And Music
Like many of an mmo gamer out there I tend to crank the music right down or totally off. It's not like we need the darn thing after all. I also spend a lot of time in vent when I'm actively playing in an mmo. So music gets the boot real fast when I'm playing.
I'm glad to say that most of my time I was blissfully unaware of the overpowering music, that we have come to expect from other games. It's there in the background but not to the point it takes your attention away from what is happening around you.
The cut scenes as you would expect ramp up the music, and it imposes itself on you. Not in a bad way as it does help to place you in the setting. That with the voice over is very pleasing, and at no time did I feel that I would come to a point that I would need to turn the feature off.
Also within the Hutt Palace there is a cantina band playing. The music gets loader as you get close, and it fades away when you pass.
It does not just sneak up on you like many in the gene.
The NPC's in the world are having conversations, and those are just the ones you can't interact with, which is a really nice touch.
Weapons and environmental sounds are in-keeping with the rest of the game. All top notch stuff here, and like the GFX you may not notice them all. But by there absence it would only subtract from the overall effect.
The attention to detail that BioWare have placed in every nook and cranny, goes way and above what you want and need.
I can't wait to be let loose on the more open worlds that the game has to offer. This being a starter world and is dedicated to getting players used to there class and all that it holds. And as such it does tend to be very quest orientated in its approach.
Even with the massive scale of these starter worlds every where you go has mobs that will gladly take you out giving half a chance. So finding a place to get some downtime and just enjoy the world you now inhabit. Are conspicuous by there absence. I don't see this being a problem later in game but it would of been nice to see it for myself.