Review by Mr Norman

"A Mixed Bag"

This game was tough to review. I loved it, and I mean 6 hours a day loved it. I couldn't get enough. I ignored the insults and complaints of my oh-so-kind sister and played for hours on end. Needless to say, back then, I believed this game deserved a ten, and all the loser fanboys on this site who hate it were just, well, losers. Now I find my self becoming a loser fanboy, which I by no means want to do. But I review games to tell people how they are, and sadly, people's complaints about Galaxies become frighteningly apparent after a couple hours online.

If you haven't yet discovered the genre that Galaxies falls into, not only do you need to wonder why you are on this website, but you're missing out on one of the biggest changes in gaming history. SWG is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, or MMORPG. The chances of you getting the crap kicked out of you at school after saying that are extremely high, so use the word wisely. In short, in this game you build a character, making him, her, or it more powerful as you wander around a world full of other people trying to become powerful. But before you do anything in this game, you must create your character.

You Decide: Bothan, Mon Calamari, Wookie, Human, and so much more

First, let me just say the character customization in this game is absolutely mind blowing. There are a total of 8 races to choose from, ranging the huge fur-covered Wookies to the tiny dog-faced Bothans. Each has certain advantages and disadvantages. Wookies are super powerful and have the best stats, but can only speak their own language, making it tough to communicate. Mon Calamari are weak, but very smart. You can customize your character to the extreme, making the nose longer or wider, your tiny butt huge, or have more facial hair than any man should have.

Once you make your character, it's time to hop in. Choosing a name is anything but easy, considering the thousands of other player names that you can't use, but a flexible name generator helps. You also choose your profession. Now this is where it gets messy. Unlike the leveling system of of MMORPG's like the insanely popular Everquest, SWG uses a tough to understand yet extremely deep development system. There are 6 basic jobs you choose from, and they all perform a specific role in the game. A Brawler is an up close fighter, and a Marksman is the opposite of him, a long range specialist. Next up is Scout, who can build camps and use traps, and Artisan, who can build stuff. Medics heal 'wounds', and Entertainers heal 'battle fatigue'(More on those later) You chose one to start out in, but unlike other games, you can mix and match jobs. You can be a Marksman/Scout, or a Brawler by night and Medic by day.

How you advance in each profession is really tough to get a grip on. See, for almost everything you do, you gain XP. Use a pistol to kill monsters, and you'll gain Pistol XP. Use a trap and gain Trapping XP. What do you do with the XP? Well, every profession has certain specialties. So if your a Scout who traps, you can spend your Trapping XP to become better at it. Go up to a computer controlled trainer or even another player character and they can teach you in the Trapping Discipline. And, each profession has 4 specialties that you can level up 4 times, leading to a grand total of 16 possible skills. Attain all 16 to become a Master, a much respected title.

Now I hope you got all that, because things are about to get even more complicated. 6 professions probably doesn't seem like much, does it? Well, that's because of Elite professions. If you advance enough in say, the Artisan job, you can become a Chef, with it's own set of 16 skills. There's much more Elite professions than the Starting professions, so you'll be at that for a long time. And let's say your a Master Marksman and Scout. Then you can combine those two skills and start the Hybrid profession of Bounty Hunter! There is a limit to how much you can level, though. You have 250 skill points, which you can spend on different jobs and job skills. So you can't be a Bounty Hunter/ Combat Medic/Swordsman/Fencer, but if you have that much time on your hands, you need professional help. This system is one of the best leveling system I've ever seen, the the arguably the best part about the game.

Playing the Game

Now after you create your character and get a grasp on the awesome job system, it's time to actually play the game. First, there are planets. There is over 5 planets, each with unique cities, monsters, and stuff to do. You can spend hours just exploring one of the monstrous cities, that at the current moment are almost always crawling with people. Every city has a unique look, but they all have certain features. For example, they all have things called Cantinas. In a word, these are bars. See, as you fight, you gain 'Battle Fatigue'. It decreases your ability to fight, so you don't want it. The only way to eliminate it is by going into a Cantina and watching a Dancer or listening to a Musician. You also gain 'Wounds', which can only by healed by medical professionals at Medical Centers.

So, as you can see, much of this game depends on you, the player. There are no computer controlled Doctors or Dancers, so you must rely on your fellow player. Now that you know where to go to heal, and you have a basic grasp on the job system, it's time to go kill some monsters! Marksmen and Brawlers are the real fighters, so they spend the most time outside of cities engaging in battle. Thankfully, battle is easy to understand. Click on a monster twice, and your character attacks them. If you have any special attacks, you can use them. Ranged weapons have certain ranges that they work best at, so try to get at the optimum range if you want your Tusken Rifle to really inflict pain. You'll also want to keep an eye on your health bars, because if any three of them reach zero, you're dead. You use the bars to perform special moves and attacks. Dancers need lots of 'Action' points to dance, and Brawlers need to focus their attention on 'Health' so they can stay alive on the frontlines.

But speaking of Tuskens, all your favorite Star Wars characters are present in one form or another. You can run missions for Jabba the Hutt, your fight Jawas in the desert. The designers did an excellent job converting the Star Wars universe into game, and deserve credit. Storming the Tusken Fort with 20 other people was an experience I'll remember for quite some time. Laser beams zooming everywhere, the awesome sound of a Bantha finally falling, and the shouts of comrades to ''HEEELLP!'' make those huge battles a one-of-a-kind experience.

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away... there was a Civil War

That's the entire story, right there. That's it. Why is there a Civil War? I don't know. Despite what I've said so far, SWG isn't perfect. See, there is a Civil War going on between the Rebels and the Imperials. You can choose a side, or stay neutral. Considering the fact that I played for over 10 hours without seeing a single Rebel vs. Imperial battle, it's safe to say the war isn't very high on people's list of priorities. There are ''battlefields'' in the game, but they're rarely even talked about.

And the next problem is the missions. There are two types of missions, Destroy missions and Deliver missions. Both are pretty self-explanatory. Destroy missions have you destroying the lair of a certain monster, and Deliver missions have you being the Star Wars UPS guy and delivering stuff to people. The problem is how impersonal all these missions are. Unlike the quests of Everquest, in which you talk to a person, who tells you to collect something or kill something to get an item, almost all the SWG missions are given through terminals with a simple Credits(the SWG form of money) reward. You don't get that sense of satisfaction that you get from collecting all the supplies for a bow, or taking down a huge dragon and getting a shining new set of armor.

The biggest flaw of SWG, though, only becomes apparent after many hours of play.(Which you will inevitably put in) It just doesn't bring anything new to the table. Like IGN said in their review, all the developers did was put Everquest in a new, and much, much, prettier setting. The things we were promised have yet to arrive, and the things that are here now aren't exactly revolutionary. And the game's steep 15 dollar a month fee won't exactly attract customers. Yes, 15. Not $10, or $8, or even $12 like all the other MMORPG's out there. Why there is such a high price is beyond me.

But I really did enjoy my time with this game. It's flawed, but if you've never played another MMORPG, this is a good starting point. Fans of the genre, though, prepare to be disappointed. Leveling up in your profession gets old quick, and there simply isn't any other real features to the game. In fact, as I wrote this review, I found myself disliking this game more and more. There's just so much more out there for people to try. So, in short, don't blow your $50 on this game. It's simply not worth it. Pick up Everquest for half the price, and be proud to know your having fun and still have $25 in your pocket.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 08/11/03

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