I’ve recently been playing SWG, along with Scott and a few other people, and I thought I’d post some thoughts that I have concerning it. When SWG was first announced, my initial reaction was: “Great, EverQuest in space. I never got in to EQ and dropped out after playing only for a few hours. Since SWG is developed by the same people, well company anyway, as EQ , my expectations were so low that I decided I wasn’t going to play.
Couple that with the fact that my interest in Star Wars in general, my SW geekiness if you will, has waned considerably as I’ve grown older, and the latest movies certainly didn’t help. Then, more SWG news came in. No spaceships or player directed space travel. Well crap. I wanted to fly space ships and go where I want, when I want. Pheh. The beta came out and I heard of broken mission terminals and general things not working correctly. And this was near the end of beta! So when the release date came, lets not forget the horrible first day problem where the registration servers blew up and no one could log on, I didn’t even think about getting the game. Especially after the less then exciting GameSpot review.
That was it for me, the nail in my SWG interest’s coffin. But apparently, not for at least one friend who bought it and tried it. He talked to Scott and a couple of others, they tried it. Then they hit me up. They said things like, “The mission terminals actually work”, and “the special areas that the review mentions aren’t there? Well, they are!”, and “”Try it you big loser”. So, since Circuit City had SWG on sale for $39 (I got the last one! Nyah!), I bought it. Expecting to only play during the free period.
After the excruciatingly long install, I finally sat down and launched it. Ok, looks very EQ-ish, the launcher does anyway. I waited through the initial patch and pressed “Play”. Blah blah blah screens. Then, those familiar words. Those words that are forever burned in the minds of Star Wars fans everywhere, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….”. Hmm, I wonder if they will actually use the Star Wars music and have the text crawl up the screen. I waited. Bam! The Star Wars theme blasted from my speakers, I had turned up the volume (my wife and kids probably thought I was nuts), and I got goosebumps. I love the music to Star Wars and it put me in the mood to actually play the game. Well let me tell you. Sony has done a great job capturing the flavor, not to mention to sites and sounds, of Star Wars. I think the music is a big part of it. They actually use music from the movies in-game. It depends on what you are doing as to what plays, but its recognizable and inspiring. The characters look like they are from the movies. The towns do as well. Everything screams Star Wars. This game does the franchise better than the latest movies do.
“But how does it play?”, I hear you ask. Glad you asked that! Its similar to EQ in some respects, but overall, I like it a lot better. There is no ‘level’ grind per SW. There are a ton of skills players can specialize in, and its up to you to decide how to customize your learned skills to your play style. Of course, moving up in a skill tree takes XP, and can be a grind, but the amounts needed are quite a bit lower than EQ and you get the feeling you’ve accomplished something after every game session. Player interaction has been increased, since other players can train you in the skills you need, almost always for free, and sometimes they’ll even pay you! Why? Because to reach the Master-level skills, you need to train people to get Training XP before you can start learning the high level skills. Ingenious. The player economy seems to be easier to use than EQ, but I’m not sure yet how the economy will move as more people start accessing higher levels and creating higher level good.
And on top of that, you can, of course, become a Jedi. Currently, the path to achieve that goal is unknown to the players. According to SOE, no one has achieved the ability train to become a Jedi. But its there. In addition, player built cities are coming, as is the ability to ride animal mounts or to purchase individual planetary transport vehicles (landspeeder here I come!). I guess you could say I’m really enjoying the heck out of SWG right now. I’m going to have to force myself to not play just so I can see the wife and kids on the occasionally off night!
The only downside, right now, is the lack of personal space travel, and I’m not crazy about buying expansions to get it. But, if the game is still fun long term, I’ll definitely do it. I bet SOE loves to hear that….