Now that the NDA is no longer hanging over my head I thought I would elaborate a bit on why I won’t be purchasing SWG right away.
I do not personally feel like SWG captures the look and feel of the Star Wars universe as well as I’d like it to.
I decided right away that I wanted to be a bounty hunter and so with blaster in hand I began working my way up that particular skill tree. This involved a lot of shooting of rats, bugs and crabs. At one point on Tatooine I was standing next to a mission terminal waiting for my turn to use it when I saw a large wookie run past me firing wildly over his shoulder as a tiny crab no bigger than a dinner plate chased him through town. How sad I thought to myself. I spent countless hours wandering the hillsides in search of new rats and crabs to shoot. Sometimes I would inadvertently stumble upon too large a rat and be forced to high tail it back to town. I placed my character in auto run and pointed him at the nearest town. As I sat there staring at my Trandoshan bounding across the uneven Tatooine landscape with some kind of super rat closing in on him I thought to myself “This is not how I want to play in the Star Wars Universe.” As I sat there watching this rat slowly gaining on my character my mind flashed back to a conversation I had with Tycho months and months ago.
Tycho had talked me into playing my first MMORPG and I told him that if he ever did that again I’d kick him right in his cream and crackers. After an hour or so of hitting spiders with a bat I was ready to write off the entire genre. He said “What about Star Wars Galaxies?” At the time I told him that Galaxies would be different because it was Star Wars. “It’s not like they’re gonna make you spend hours hitting Wamprats with a stick.” Oh irony, thou art a harsh mistress.
The more I think about it the more I think that there may very well be nothing wrong with Star Wars Galaxies. This just isn’t my kind of game. I think I’m just better off getting my Star Wars fix from games like Jedi Knight and Rogue Squadron. Maybe some day a developer will combine all the best stuff from games like X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter and Jedi Knight into one game that doesn’t involve the poking of rats with sticks. Essentially my fantasy has not changed. I still want to play in a fully realized Star Wars universe. I want to fly a ship I own through space smuggling goods and outrunning Imperials. I want to land that ship on the planet of my choosing and do battle with storm troopers and rival smugglers. I want an action game because the Star Wars movies to me are action movies. That’s why I never liked the Star Wars RTS bullshit. Star Wars for me is not about running around Naboo shooting bugs in order to build up my blaster XP. It is about adventure and I don’t feel like SWG delivers that.
Even after you’ve reached a level where you can take on larger adversaries the battles still aren’t any fun. You click on the thing you want to shoot and then you select from your menu of different attacks. There is no strategy required. You simply choose your best attack and cue it up a couple of times and then wait while your guy shoots the target. If the target comes after you just run away until it stops chasing you and then turn around and repeat the steps above. Stirring Star Wars music plays during a battle and is intended to make the event seem more epic I suppose. The classic arrangement blaring as you take pot shots at a lizard who seems oblivious to your attacks just makes an already absurd situation all the more laughable.
I’m not gonna go into any of the technical problems I had playing the game as those don’t really matter to me. I have no doubt in my mind that all the technical issues I had with the game will be ironed out within the first couple of months. Do I think that people who purchase the game when it first comes out will be paying to beta test it? Absolutely. I also believe that this is no different than any other PC game. The fact is that we as gamers have allowed game companies to do it for years. We have created a world in which it is okay to deliver a game to market that is broken. We have proven time and time again that we will pay good money for toys that do not work. To complain that another game is coming out earlier than it should is pointless. It should be fucking assumed by now that a company will force it’s developers to ship a game before they think it’s ready. This is not news, this is par for the fucking course.
What I’ve decided is that the problem is not with SWG. I believe they have succeeded in creating exactly what they set out to make, a Star Wars MMORPG. The problem is that what they made is not the sort of game I like to play and that’s not a bad thing for anyone but me.