GDC 2010
Hands On: Star Wars: The Old Republic

Greg Tito | 16 Mar 2010 19:30
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Since it was first announced in 2008, BioWare's first MMOG has been the most hotly anticipated title in the genre. With the great RPG chops at the studio, it was the perfect choice to take over the Star Wars license and make the great MMOG that Galaxies never was. The plan was to concentrate on story, as BioWare games are wont to do. That's where all of the fully recorded dialogue came in; for the first time in an MMOG, we were going to be able to hear what our character sounded like. That was the feature I was most excited to try out when I was invited to the LucasArts facility at the Presidio in San Francisco last week. But instead, the demonstration build focused on showing me the Trooper class, a Republic military badass with a big blaster and exploding bombs. At least the prebuilt character at my station was a hot chick, that somehow made it all that much cooler.

"We're excited to have people play the Trooper here today, we think it's a really cool class," said Jake Neri, producer at LucasArts for The Old Republic. "Last year, people played our Sith classes and we wanted to try and get some Republic love in the mix. We wanted to show why it's cool to be something other than a Force-wielding character."

My Trooper was a dark-skinned female human with a big gun and scarred, worn pieces of body-armor that were reminiscent of Boba Fett's costume. She was level 6, and her action bar was populated with around 6 different abilities. The Trooper's mechanics are based on "Action Points" which you accumulate by hitting a target with your basic attack, which in my case was a single shot of my blaster. Once I had 5 or 6 points, which were displayed in the HUD by an increasing number of tiny blue lights below my health bar, I could use the more vicious abilities, such as a rapid fire barrage which used up all of your action points over time.

My favorite ability was a sticky grenade, which I could throw on any enemy that was at least a bit away from me. Doing so treated me to a somewhat comical animation of the enemy trying to shake off the grenade before getting blown the f' up. Such silly evasion techniques are ultimately useless and the grenade causes so much damage that it was pretty much a one-shot kill that I used every time I could. Using all my abilities and a little bit of patience, I was able to take out all of the enemies in this hive of scum and villainy at will.

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