Star Wars: The Old Republic Captures My Attention

Right, it’s been just about a month since I last posted, and there’s a couple of reasons for that:

1)      I’m pretty busy with work, college work, applying for a job and the job application training for students that I lead.

2)      I started playing SW:TOR with a couple of friends

Yes, I know … after spending the better part of 5 years on World of Warcraft I went and started playing another MMO. I promise I won’t get crazy addicted to this one … maybe.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is a very enjoyable game really, despite what the recent internet chatter is implying. Below Is an account of my impressions after a couple of weeks of gameplay. Keep in mind that this is my opinion and does not represent anything else but that.

Alright, I fired up the game and downloaded the patches. First thing I had to do was put the graphic settings on very low. Frankly, that’s not normal. Granted my pc isn’t great, I know, but it should at least be capable of running the game on medium. I have extremely long load times (everyone seems to have that for some planets). This appears to be a problem that some players have despite the quality of their rig.

                       

So, I made myself a Pureblooded Sith Warrior (advanced class is Marauder – Favourite of the month apparently) and started my trials on Korriban to become a true Sith complete with red Lightsaber, Force Choke and a seething hate for everything alien or Republic. The story missions are awesome. The class story sucks you in right away and the trademark BioWare speech choices are flawless. It’s almost a direct copy of the Mass Effect speech system really. The only problem I really have is that I just can’t be arsed to watch every single cutscene for every single quest (no matter how short those quests might be). If you watch everything you’ll ‘lose’ hours of your day. Don’t get me wrong though, I like it but sometimes I’d prefer the good ol’ quest text.

Furthermore, as I advanced in levels I was and still am baffled by the extremely large amount of cash sinks in the game. You have to pay for extra bag space, mounts, repairs, legacy rewards, respecs, skills and lots more. Skills especially get insanely expensive for the cash flow you receive around level 25. An augmented item on the Galactic Trade Network will easily set you back 250 000 credits. Level 50 mount skill is also around 250k, not counting the mount itself. One of my friends said that BioWare overrated the potential in-game economy, and I reckon he’s right.

Finally, the PvP is great fun, it has to be said. There’s basically 4 warzones – the usual really; 2 warzones where you cap and defend bases, a Strand Of The Ancients-type warzone and a Capture the Flag warzone in the form of Huttball. Which warzone you get is completely random which is great, no more abandoned battlegrounds like sometimes happened to me in WoW.

Also, there are only 2 level brackets: Pre-50 and 50. Pre-50 everything is peachy and I felt like a goddamn battering ram playing my Marauder. But once I hit level 50 I only encountered fully equipped PvP steam trains and all I could do felt like hitting them over the head with my limp red noodle (read: Red Lightsaber). The difference is mind-boggling and very sudden. But, that is not a flow only this game has. Truly, I have no idea how to fix an issue like that other than give some basic PvP gear to every fresh level 50.

In summary, it’s a good game if you’re able to look past the (many) flaws like I did. I’m having a lot of fun for my money and in the end that’s all I really care about. I don’t sit around whining and crying in trade chat, and if you are doing just that you should really go play a different game because you’re ruining my fun, you asshat!

Niels Van Hellemont

PS: May 4th is Star Wars day so May The 4th Be With You!

30 Day Game Challenge # 27 – Game I Can’t Wait For

Well, the only game that had me sitting on the edge of my chair so far (that hasn’t been released in the meantime .. *ahem* Skyrim) is Star wars: The Old Republic. BioWare’s new MMO has me so excited because I’m a huge fan of Star Wars, BioWare and MMO’s. After I quit WoW I need something new to fill the void, and to get my mind off of real life stuff for a while.

I have faith that The Old Republic (TOR) will do that, and deliver a very enjoyable experience where I can reconnect with friends from other games. Sith, here I come!

Alright, watch the footage below and join us tomorrow for day 28!

/Niels

20 December Is A Bad Release Date For Star Wars: TOR

Just recently BioWare finally gave us a release date for their highly anticipated story-driven MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. Turns out the game will be released on 20 December is the US and 22 December in Europe.

Now, I believe this is a terrible date to release a game such as this. There’s 2 distinct reasons for this, 1 is personal and the other is more business/marketing related. let’s start with the business aspect here.

I can understand that even a successful developer such as BioWare can’t pass up on the boost that a holiday release can give to a game. Though, releasing a title such as this so close to Christmas seems like a mistake to me. The end of the years is traditionally packed with triple-A games and 2011 is no different. There’s Skyrim, MW3 and the likes. I’m guessing that a lot of RPG fans will still be spending most of their time playing Skyrim, thus it seems like they won’t have a lot of time to invest into an MMO. It might be a good idea to have it close-by for the weeks after Christmas.

Besides, are we even sure that the game is polished enough by 20 December? An MMO is never finished, but it seems to me that they’re pushing hard to make that holiday release, and that might be at the expense of higher quality.

The other reason why I think this is a bad date to release TOR is because I’m a student. Being a student in Belgium means that you’ll have exams in january, which means that I HAVE to study during the Christmas holidays. I’m not sure when the exams are in other countries, but the last thing I need around Christmas is a game that I’m dying to play lying next to my on my desk while I’m trying to study.

Besides my concerns here, I have no doubt that the game will sell incredibly well because of a pretty effective marketing strategy and the high anticipation amongst avid MMO players.

What do you think about the 20 December release date? Good, bad or are you indifferent? Let me know in the comment section!

/Niels

Pre-Played: Star Wars – The Old Republic

Since the success of World of Warcraft everyone wants a piece of the MMO cake. The alliance between EA, BioWare and LucasArts is taking a shot at pushing WoW off the MMO throne with their upcoming game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. I’m here to tell you a bit more about this highly anticipated game.

Even though developer BioWare doesn’t have any experience in making an MMO, their resumé is more than impressive enough to set some high expectations. Since Baldur’s Gate, the developer has been the authority in the field of western RPGs. Just think of their recent success with Dragon Age and Mass Effect. BioWare isn’t quite ready to hand over their title as lead developer in this field. Their other Star Wars project Knights of the Old Republic is still appearing on more than one ‘best of’ lists. Is it any surprise that this game serves as the basis for BioWare’s newest Star Wars game?

Own story

Star Wars: The Old Republic is set to take place 300 years after Knights of the Old Republic, a couple millenia before the events of the movies. There is a temporary ‘peace’ between the Jedi and the Sith, but a new conflict is about to start. In The Old Republic players will be able to choose one of two sides to witness the story from the perspective of one of eight available classes. This makes for 8 different storylines, that intersect at certain points, but who are different enough to encourage the player to try out different classes.

The story will be quite expansive, as we’ve come to expect from BioWare. It looks like The Old Republic will have more to offer than just missions where a certain number of enemies has to be defeated. Like those dreaded kill quests in the original WoW … Kill 50 of these, and then 30 of those! Anyway, back to The Old Republic. The storytelling will be reinforced by the fully voice acted dialogues of both the NPC’s and the players. Dialogue plays a major role in the outcome of quests. It’s even possible to have a conversation between the quest giver and the different player, where each player chooses a dialogue option and the game randomly calls upon a player to speak.

Specialisation

An MMO like The Old Republic needs more than just a good story though. That’s why the game will offer more than sufficient possibilities to alter a character to your own taste. For this, there are many options, like choosing your race (human or otherwise), the before mentioned 8 classes and 1 of 2 specialisations for each class. A class in itself only offers a base for the skills of your character, whereas the specialisations is for well … specializing.

The Sith inquisitor, for example, is one of the Sith classes that uses the force. The first specialisation, the Sorcerer, is based on the emperor from the movies. The Sorcerer can give support at range by using lightning. The Assassin, which is based on Darth Maul from The Phantom Menace (Episode 1), is a melee-oriented fighter and uses a double-edged light saber (or whatever that’s called). Even though classes share traits and walk through the same storyline, the specialisations make for more than enough diversity which in turn makes the game have 16 more or less different playstyles. Look below for a list of each side’s classes:

The Jedi

The Sith

 

 

Trooper

Bounty Hunter

Vanguard

Commando

Powertech

Mercenary

Smuggler

Sith Warrior

Gunslinger

Scoundrel

Juggernaut

Marauder

Jedi Knight

Imperial Agent

Guardian

Sentinel

Operative

Sniper

Jedi Consular

Sith Inquisitor

Sage

Shadow

Assassin

Sorcerer

Flying and exploring

Next to the quests on the many planets in The Old Republic universe, space battles also play a major role in the game. Even though it’s completely optional, every player has access to his or her own spaceship. This ship can also be adapted although it’s not clear to me in what way. What is clear, however, is the fact that there is a possibility to explore different worlds in your ship. Of course, you’ll occasionally have to navigate through an asteroid field now and then.

Although it’s always hard to predict if an MMO has any chance for success, the quality of The Old Republic is not to be underestimated. BioWare’s way of telling a story is unique and is suited for an MMO, on top of that the game looks beautiful, especially in comparison with other MMO’s. Star Wars: The Old Republic could be the gold egg everyone has been waiting for since the arrival of World of Warcraft. Beneath all those fancy cutscenes and dialogues it’s a good old-fashioned MMO. The Old Republic will be released on the PC somewhere in 2011.

Watch the trailer below for a little teaser of epicness yet to come.

A game from BioWare in the Star Wars universe with all the awesome music and lore? This is one game I’m willing to pay top dollar for! What do you think of it? Let me know in the comment section below and be sure to follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook!

/Niels

It came from … Ikea?

Just a little random funny post here. I found the images below on GameInformer who found them at College Humor.  College Humor imagines what Ikea manuals for some of Sci-fi’s more complicated pieces of technology would look like. Always wanted to know how to build the Back to the Future’s DeLorean or Dr. Who’s Tardis? Find out here!

I know it’s not fancy, hot topic news but I enjoyed it and I think you will as well! So sit back and relax while giggling at these images.

Look, no Jar-Jars! Thank god!

 (Look, no Jar-Jars needed!)

 You had a giggle didn’t you? Admit iittt!!! Seriously though, I hope you enjoyed it and see you next time.

/Niels

Videogames & Lego: Perfect Harmony

Hey there guys, this post is somewhat different from others on The Grumbler since we didn’t write it ourselves! I came across this post on Decades In A Digital World. A video game blog written by a veteran gamer who provides us with regular insights on various subjects within the gaming world. I decided to re-post this article because I never played a Lego game before and after reading it I might have to reconsider my opinion about the Lego games! I might just go out and buy the new Star Wars Lego game. All credit obviously goes to the original writer. Either way, this article is well worth your time, enjoy.

A quarter of a century ago I came to a decision. Having made the terror inducing move from primary to secondary school i’d also made the heart wrenching decision to ditch my toys. Farewell Millenium Falcon, au revoir plastic soldiers and cheerio matchbox cars. Oh, and that even goes for you Lego. My days of building all manner of wondrous contraptions forged of my youthful imagination and your colourful bricks are done, and no, I don’t care that my Mum has styled my hair on your little characters for years, you’re still out! Neil Bason ‘the Lego years’ was over……at least that’s what I thought…..but Lego had a plan, in fact, lets call it a masterplan.

As masterplans went it was simple, but the way in which it was executed was pure genius. If these kids will no longer sit and play with actual Lego blocks, then lets take the battle to them, ‘Operation Pixelate’ was on and our videogames were about to be invaded by a virtual Lego world.

By having the little Lego people don the outfits, play out the roles and enter the world of some of our most loved movie characters, console Lego games had an instant route to our hearts, and now find themselves as one of gamings most popular franchises. The secret to this success? Well that’s as simple and carefree as those childhood days were when we played with real Lego. The games’ managed to tap into the often overlooked vein known as fun.

Whilst Call of Duty and Battlefield were throwing us into high paced, adult worlds fraught with tension, frustration and uber-competitive online foes or Heavy Rain and Condemned were taking us to darker and more disturbing places than any gamer ever thought they’d go, the Lego bus was driving straight over the rainbow to destination Happyland.

Speaking as a gamer with more years on the clock than most nothing quite harks back to a golden bygone age of gaming than the Lego titles. They’re a series of games that could easily have found a home in any of the generations past and have an unbridled ability to please gamers of all ages. If you’ve a curious son or daughter at home there can surely be no better introduction to videogames than a Lego title. It’s an utter joy watching the wee ones faces light up as they take control of Lego Indy or Lego Batman for the first time and take their first baby steps into gaming. While for us longer in the tooth gamers it’s the perfect antidote to the usual super serious fare we’re served, for just sitting back, relaxing and simply enjoying gaming at it’s purest and simplest Lego games are worth their weight in gold. They know how to place a smile upon your face and these days that’s a quality that so many others fail to appreciate.

Lego has been a part of the videogame world since the late 90′s in various guises but it was the release in 2005 of Lego Star Wars that really took the world by storm and set the trend for Lego games to come. Since that fateful day we’ve seen not only the Star Wars Universe given a Lego makeover but also Indiana Jones, Batman and Harry Potter. Even Rock Band was given the treatment and they all delivered something a little bit special. Each movie tie in not only manages to provide humour, entertainment and a sense that you are rediscovering days gone by, they also manage to outdo almost every other, more serious, movie tie in without even breaking a sweat.

So with Lego: Pirates of the Caribbean about to drop anchor and row ashore into our gaming lives I urge you to put out the welcome mat and embrace it. The Lego phenomenon is here to stay and if games are still about fun and enjoyment, which isn’t always as clear as it should be, then Lego can stand alongside any game as an equal, maybe it could even give a little lesson on not taking yourself quite so seriously.

Did that spike your interest in Lego games? It sure did for me! Let me know what you think in the comment section below!

/Niels

Top 15 Video Game Cinematics

Hey there guys and welcome to another video post. This time I’m sharing my top 15 best video game cinematics ever! Mind you, the same game gets featured a couple of times, but their cinematics are so incredibly awesome I’m sure you’ll forgive me. Note that most of these will be cinematic openings rather than cutscenes. So let’s kick it off with number 15 shall we?

# 15 – World of Warcraft Opening Cinematic

 

 

Blizzard is still the undisputed champion of cinematics in my book. You’ll see more by Blizzard in this post, don’t worry. This one is the opening cinematic to World of Warcraft, released back in 2004. Note the extremely beatiful graphics and music in the cinematic. One can’t help but expect an awesome game after seeing this.

# 14 – Jak III Opening Cinematic

 
Chose this one for two simple reasons. One being the comical note provided by Daxter and Pecker. And two is the ‘story’ if I can call it that. Jak III starting with his exile to the Wastelands after saving everyone’s ass. Not something I was expecting at least!
# 13 – Gears of War 2 Opening Cinematic 
 
Can’t really say why I like this. Must be the unspeakable badassery of a Gears of War game. I really like the ‘Saving private ryan’-point of view, ie the massive clusterfuck that a war is. Like the narrating as well. An honorable 13th place for Gears of War 2.
 
# 12 – Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War Cinematic
 
 
What can I say? I really like massive battles in beautiful CGI. Kinda dig the cartoon-y look as well.
 
# 11 – Final Fantasy VIII Intro
 
Final Fantasy games are known for their beautiful cinematics, but personally I think this one stands out. Released in 1999 this cinematic looked pretty sweet for its time. Not to mention the music to make it perfect.
 
# 10 – God of War 3 Opening Cutscene
 
 
Ah, entering the top 10! This doesn’t really need any explanation, does it? Greek mythology, huge fights, Kratos pumped full of testosteron, beautiful CGI AND dramatic music. ‘Nuff said I think.
 
# 9 – Star Wars: The Old Republic: Jedi vs Sith
 
 
Bioware once again proves it knows how to make an RPG, and how to make awesome cinematics. The Old Republic has everything any Star Wars fan can wish for. Awesome Star Wars music, epic lightsaber battles and the list keeps going on.
 
# 8 – Killzone Opening Cinematic
 
 
Killzone, one of the best games ever in my eyes started with this amazing looking cinematic that still gives me shivers when I see it. The speech, the invasion … it’s all so amazingly good looking. A very honorable 8th place.
 
# 7 – Halo 2: Giving Back The Bomb Cutscene
 
 
Master Chief chucking the Covenant’s bomb back at them paired with awesome music and a small comical note from Cortana is enough to earn a spot in my top 10! ‘To give the covenant back their bomb’ indeed.
 
# 6 – Warcraft III: Hellscream’s end
 
 
The cinematic ending to another one of Blizzard’s top notch games. A story of bravery, honor and a royal ass-kicking. # 6 on the list, enjoy.
 
# 5 – Halo 3 Commercial
 
 
This isn’t so much of an in-game cinematic but certainly worth a spot in my top 5. Just because it got me so hyped about Halo 3. It doesn’t get much better than seeing the Chief jumping right into battle.
 
# 4 – Warcraft III: Arthas’ Betrayal
 
 
Chose this one because it’s so touching. We get the first glimpse of the future Lich King in this cinematic where he murders his own father and unleashes darkness upon the world.
 
# 3 – Dragon Age: Origins (Sacred Ashes)
 
 
Entering the top 3 we get a cinematic from Dragon Age: origins. I chose this one primarily for the eye candy that it offers. Absolutely breathtaking CGI in this one.
 
# 2 – DC Universe Online Opening Cinematic
 
 
This one is really awesome, not only because of the amazing graphics, but also because it shows a somewhat darker side of the DC Universe. Oh, and a really pissed off Superman always works.
 
# 1 – World of Warcraft: Wrath Of The Lich King Cinematic
 
 
Ah finally, number 1! And yes, it’s another WoW cinematic (haters gonna hate). Can’t argue that it’s not great though, aside from the graphics I really like the sound effects and the narrative voice. Gives me chills every time.
 
And that concludes my top 15 video game cinematics. Do you agree with my list? What would you have done differently? Let me know in the comment section below!
 
/Niels