Review by KasketDarkfyre
"Uniqueness...Complexity...this Jedi craves these things..."
In the midst of all of the MMORPG's that pepper the market, you find one that had the potential for greatness and showed promise up until changes were made. Star Wars Galaxies is a story of triumph, brilliance and eventual downfall, all due to the players who made up the game. From the start, Galaxies had all of the uniqueness that had honestly put this title apart from the others in terms of the way that you could create, control and ultimately play the game to your liking. With three expansions and several game revisions, this title has gone from complex, to extremely simple, at a great cost to the player base.
There is no mystic force that controls *my* destiny...
Star Wars Galaxies was one of the first MMO's that offered the player the ability to be one of dozens of professions and allowed the player to either fight, or craft. Most MMO's on the market are comparable in one respect with that being players are required to fight at some point. Here in Galaxies however, if you weren't all about going out and putting a blaster bolt in some mob that happened to be in your way, then you could create your own financial empire and become a celebrity in ways other than combat. That's what drew me in the beginning and kept me playing for several months, as it did hundreds of other players.
Using resources, managing your money, creating items for other players to use is a big part of the Galaxies universe, or at least it was at one point. If you were lucky enough to gather the best resources on the planet, you could potentially create a name for yourself in making armor, weapons, food or even player clothing for other players to purchase. While this doesn't seem like a huge undertaking, hours upon hours could be spent managing hundreds of millions of units of resources that were either harvested, or bought depending your financial status. For a good portion of the people that I knew at the time, they spent more time making money from other players than they did out blowing things up.
Combat on the other hand was almost as diverse as the crafting portion of the game. With a dozen different professions that you could choose from, you could be a master of unarmed combat, fight your foes from long distances as a Rifleman, or get up close and personal with the use of a pistol. Different combinations of the professions created unique templates that could cater to just about any gamers style, though there were several "power" templates that people took just to be on top of the game in the PvP arena. If you were one of those who didn't care much for PvP, then you could play the combat in any style that you wanted.
Between the combat and the crafting, there were also those classes that had a uniqueness all their own in terms of healing. You could become a Doctor and buff players with incredible stats, making money in the process and becoming fairly rich. You could have standard Medic abilities that would help a group in the midst of a huge battle, or you could have become a dreaded Combat Medic and poisoned your victims from afar. Coupled with either the crafting professions or the combat professions, these "secondary" professions proved to be quite comparable in either solo or team play.
Social classes were also very prevalent in terms of Dancers, Musicians, Image Designers and Entertainers. These players populated the cantinas, could dance, play music and heal Battle Fatigue, which at the time was a large part of PvP and combat play. As time went on however, these professions became more of a rarity and those that played them were few and far between. Such professions also became a waypoint on the way to the path of the Jedi and were used more for the badges rather than their intended purpose.
PvP on the other hand was generally dependant on the professions and template that you had chosen. If you wanted to poison people, and then take out one of the three player bars, then you would become a Combat Medic and Rifleman. Through these three bars, Health/Action/Mind, you could pretty much choose your template and work with it from there. When you fought and died, you took on damage to these bars that could only be healed by Entertainers. Your armor and weapons lost their durability and you would have to weigh in the cost of heroics with the cost of replacing your gear.
The rest of the gameplay on the other hand, was rather simple. As you increased your skills and trained boxes in your professions, more options were allowed to you to be placed on your hotbar. More powerful attacks and crafting recipes were given depending on what you chose for your base professions allowing you battle more effectively. Experience points were given for completing missions located at any terminal in a major city and later on in the player-created cities. Weapons, armor, vehicles, pets and player options became available with each passing patch.
As time wore on however, the game became one of who had the best weapons and armor as well as a template that would dominate over every other player. Eventually, a stalemate was reached where it was no longer an issue of one player versus one player, but rather who had more friends that could sway the fight. As the patches wore on and more content was added, more and more people were beginning to complain that there wasn't enough to do. Expansions were released and eventually, the game itself had changed completely from what it was to what it is now.
Explanations and changes I'll cover in expansion reviews to go with the timeline of how things changed.
Scruffy Nerf Herder...
Visually, Galaxies has never really been much of a game that makes your eyes pop out of your head. You'll find that most of the textures are old and outdated, the mobs are pretty simple with very little detail other than polygons moving and even when the game was full of motion and effects, they were not all that impressive. If you attempt to turn your graphics all the way to full, you'll experience a slow-down that almost makes the game unplayable. Most of the shadowing effects, while very very impressive, have to be done away from houses or major cities, simply because of the major lag that you'll incur.
Items and locations are rather beautiful though if you have a computer that has enough power to work the small details into the equation. The flowing grass, the lights that shine and the lighting that changes depending on the position that you place them in are all very impressive. However, you cannot just sit in the grass or in your house all day and decorate. Movement isn't as forced now as it was in the beginning, but the lack of a credible jump or even physical emotes really don't do much for the game as a whole. Player character design is impressive in the creation screen, but once in the world, there isn't much you'll notice.
The music of Galaxies and even the sound effects are really not that bad if you listen to them on a regular basis. The sound of the wind in the trees or blowing in the desert, the roar of a beast that is coming over the hill and even the sounds of incoming transports as you get close to a major city is really immersive. If SOE got anything right, it was the music and the immersion of actually being in that world. Battle music is clear and crisp, highlighting movies such as Return of the Jedi, Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Sound effects in battle with the hum of the lightsaber, the firing of the blaster and even the groan of a dying enemy keeps you rather alert throughout.
When I move, you move...
Movement is a little complex to start, but in the end, you'll get used to the scheme. The way that the control is now, you'll find that you have to use your arrowkeys and your mouse a little more often and in the past. Firing actions off of your toolbar isn't difficult and corresponds with your number keys at the top of your keyboard. Combat requires a bit of practice if you're a melee class, but if you have a ranged profession, then you simply have to have the target and just keep firing, throwing in specials from time to time to change it up a bit. Crafting is a simple point and click of your mouse on your resources and the house decorating can be learned with simple commands in a matter of minutes.
Like Luke watching the sun...
Star Wars Galaxies is a shadow of it's old self. With the passing expansions, several quests, rewards and planets were added, as well as the ability to fly in space. Although these expansions did breathe new life into the game, it ultimately brought about the end to the original release of the game and created something that isn't exactly what I started playing in the beginning. As time moves on, the producers and designers are starting to bring back old elements, but only time will tell if this is a matter of too little, too late. If you're into the point and click games, then this game might appeal to you, but if you're a gamer who needs some complexity, move along...that time has already passed...
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 12/11/06
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