Review by miyaa

"Is it too detailed for is own good?"

Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) tend to get a bad rap by non-players because they can't see how can you be addictive to a game that usually isn't appealing to the eyes and you tend to do the same things over and over again. Star Wars: Galaxies is a skills based MMOG/RPG (Roleplaying Game) where players can select one of six races and six public professions with their various elite skills that can take that character higher in their ranks than ever before. Ironically enough, while it has been out since May of 2003, it's only now starting to take off as there is talk of a sequel coming out (Lightspeed is the sequel for An Empire Divided).

Unlike Everquest, the eyecandy (graphics, sound, atmosphere, etc.) of this game is really good. Characters whether close up or far away aren't blocky at all and background scenery and city buildings aren't too blocky at all. You can really tell the graphics have somewhat of a hard time with rotunda and other roundish buildings. The landscape really varies especially depending on which of the five initial worlds you start on are in. The changes in the terrain are really faithful to the planetary map in your datapad o' stuff that you have at all times that will help you figure out what to do as a newbie.

There are a few quibbles with the eyecandy. One is that the buildings while they look kind of the same on each world, are look very prepackage and don't show much originality. This can become very uninteresting if you want to build (eventually, as everything on Star Wars: Galaxies seems to take real-time to get done) your own city (player-cities as they call them). Maybe at some point the coders will be able to break down basic block units to subunits that will make them more original viewing.

The other problem I have is with the sound. Granted, there's nothing wrong with going with stuff from the original sound-tracks. However, it would have been nice if they could have come up with something, well, original? You'll probably get really tired with the John Williams music eventually (if not really quickly). And while you can adjust the initial set-up of how loud you want your musical effects versus special effects, at factory set-up they seem to be unbalanced, and perhaps a trifle bit too loud for my tastes.

The gameplay is a whole different ballgame. With most MMOG/RPG that are heavily skill based (see: Dark Ages of Camelot)often times games will get really bogged down in very detailed skill games that sometimes will make the game feel more like an exercise in patience than in actually going out and kicking down the (insert your enemy faction here) scum. SWG is no different as the skills system is based around three interesting premises. 1. You start out at novice and you follow a certain skill tree to get to ''Master'' level, which is a springboard for more elite-level skills. You don't have to stick with just one tree, you can do many different skills well creating ''hybrid'' classes.
2. You gain experience points for your skills by doing different things. Artisan do so by making stuff/performing of discovering resources. Brawlers and fighters kill stuff. Politicians act evil. Scouts scout.
3. The big one: You have a limited amount of skills in you, a ''learning capacity'' as they call it. Now, it's big enough so that you could fully master three skills, with room for some miscellaneous stuff in between. Now that's what really caught my eye. A lot of games you have people who have been there so long (minus friends, family, jobs, and bathing) that they are masters of their own domain, which is pretty much every skill possible. Supposedly, you can't do so in this game. I found that to be very interesting.

The skill trees are usually four levels deep per section (from Novice to General master, from General Master to Elite Master of said skill). When you want to make something, the amount of information you have when you go to one of those crafting machines to make an item gives a lot more information. Perhaps too much info, and it seems the quality of the gun or medipack you make really makes a difference in how well you can sell an item, which I guess is good. I do wonder if a game has to go into such detail through. I guess it depends on the person or creature you are playing.

This leads me to the final point of this review, the character creation. The beginning thread of a personal plot is that you're picked up for smuggling, and for some strange reason, you've come up clean. This brings you to the character creation stage, where you can create your character. You have a choice of eight classic Star Wars ''species'', each with their bonuses and minuses. From there you can generate your stats in nine different attributes which formulate your three different health bars (!) that any one of them falling to zero means problems for your character, if not death. That seems odd to me that you could ''die'' if something other than your health bar goes down to zero (the other two being an action bar and a mental bar).

So in summary, how detailed is Star Wars: Galaxies? Well, it's very detailed, but there are a few times where you feel that you're overwhelmed with info at a touch of a button. One general comment that is very interesting is how much of the this game is dependent on the players. Almost all of the artisan and shoppes are run by players, not by npcs. You can end up fighting other players, but that's only after you pick up enough faction points to be considered to be a recognizable enemy. Most of the missions are you going up against an NPC monster/enemy of some sort. And I think I like the fact that if you really want to get into pvp combat, you can do it, but you have to go very far into the game before you are allowed to do so, which is a nice touch. And I also like the fact that you don't have to get really into combat fighting if you want to. There are social elements of the game that I didn't touch on, but safe to say it's a nice touch into the game. (I suspect there is one of the eight ''galaxies'' or servers that is more into 'roleplaying' than the others.)

However, there are still bug problems even after a year, and patches that are out for this game. The forums seem to be somewhat full of complaints about the game, but that appears to be diminishing.

I'll tell you what is the best part of the game: no real player Jedis. I mean you can become a Jedi, but you have really know what you're doing as there's no real 'technical support' on how to become a Jedi or what kind of skills you have to be really good at becoming a Jedi or picking a path you want to take. I suspect through that as the sequel goes beyond beta status that there will be something more, since most people I would guess wants to become a Jedi. It is sort of the end-all and be-all of the movies, right?

But I think this game has proved that you don't have to focus in on the Jedis to remain truthful to the whole Star Wars universe, and you can have fun even through all you do is perhaps do a little dance to provide morale to the troops.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 04/29/04

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