E3 2010: Hands on with The Old Republic's smuggler class pt. 2

Objectives complete: Don't return to quest-giver

After battling through the soldiers to reach my few objectives, I entered the control tower and disabled the main targeting system. With everything complete, I had a new pop-up on my screen: call my quest-giver via holo-com.

I clicked that button and my character pulled out a small holo-device -- the classic Star Wars telephone. A little hologram of my quest-giver appeared, and it triggered a cinematic dialogue sequence right then and there, advancing me to the next stage of the quest. I thought this feature was very cool, and it gave a seamless transition into the next quest phase. It's very much in the vein of Star Wars to use a device like this instead of hoofing it back to the quest-giver, and I really appreciated it.

Getting back to the quest-giver, however, was another story. I ran through the area that I had just cleared out like a madman on speed, getting shot but leading my pursuers back to the "town guards." They took care of my aggro, of course, and I jetted into my hangar bay instance again, to finalize this gun-running deal and get my ship off of this planet.

However, just as I went to find my contact, three resistance fighters jumped me from behind various ship parts in the hangar. I quickly dived behind the nearest wall and begun using my cover to fire back at them. Now, finally, after all this time, I felt like I was in a Star Wars movie.

I dealt with those thugs and quickly ran over to my contact, triggering a cut-scene where I pulled him up off of the floor. He was shot, but he was fine enough to stand and tell me that my ship had been stolen by a mutual acquaintance. Now I was stuck on this rock, and my smuggler wanted some tasty, tasty revenge. No one gets between me and the deal.

Final thoughts

You know, this demo has given me a taste of the good and the bad of SWTOR so far, and I'm actually quite pleased with that.

On the downside of the game, the combat system isn't revolutionary. Smuggler equals rogue at my current level, and even the innovative cover system felt, at times, like non-moving stealth. What peeved me most, and what I hope will be fixed before launch, is the fact that you still get shot while in cover. That's a big one for me.

The other downside? It's still an MMO. You'll still run into mobs milling about almost aimlessly, even though Bioware has taken care to give them a reason to be there. Things like that take you out of the whole experience.

On the upside? The conversation sequences, as you expect, are neat. While I was dropped in the middle of a storyline and had no clue what was going on, I still wanted to pummel that guy who stole my ship by the end of the experience. At times you still feel shoehorned into walking a certain path in the storyline (as I had to disable the AA guns to leave, or I had to go kill that guy to get my ship back) but I only got a small taste of what this game had to offer. I expect more choice in other circumstances.

And, of course, when all of this comes together, as it did in the hangar bay instance, the game feels as it should -- like an epic movie. That's what I'm looking for here. While the epic movie experience didn't permeate the entire gameplay session, it popped up enough that I felt satisfied.

Final final notes? This is still an early build. Things are still subject to change. For example, when I got to play it, the graphics looked way better than in the screenshots we've seen. The fidelity of the graphics was superb on these high-end settings, and they seem as they will scale well across many different types of systems while still looking good.

So, in short, don't get yourself super hyped about this game. It's not amazingly innovative or a complete genre changer. It's not re-inventing the wheel, but it is taking that wheel and giving it the gold plating it needs.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is finally here, and the Force is with Massively! We've prepared a Hutt-sized feast of class introductions, gameplay guides, lore roundups, and hands-on previews to help you navigate the launch period and beyond. And don't forget our weekly SWTOR column, the Hyperspace Beacon!