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E3 2009: Star Wars: The Old Republic demonstration part 2

Alex Ziebart

The presentation quickly made its way back to the emphasis on story: The two classes shown, the Bounty Hunter and the Smuggler, are on separate factions. The Bounty Hunter is Imperial, Smugglers are members of the Republic. If you've played the game the whole way through as a Smuggler, you can go do it again as a Bounty Hunter and the experience will be completely unique. None of the missions will be the same whatsoever, it will be like playing a second game.

The next bit of gameplay shown off was called a "flashpoint," which is a customized story event complete with heavy doses of action. In the scenario shown, a Sith and their Bounty Hunter buddy are aboard an Imperial transport, traveling between planets. It turns out that the captain of your ship was given an order to track down and capture a nearby Jedi by a Grand Moff, but they refused. Said Grand Moff has dialed you up, and asked you to deal with the traitor and track down that Jedi. You do just that.

You hack and slash your way through Imperial Marines to make your way to the bridge, and you're then faced with a choice after some dialogue: Do you kill the Captain, or do you spare his life in some hope that the information he has on this Jedi you need to find is advantageous? The developers polled the E3 audience as to what they should do, and it was almost unanimous: Kill the Captain. Before they went through with it, it was made clear that depending on the choice, very different things could happen. We would only see one of those scenarios.

The Captain was killed, and things started going downhill from there. You take command of the ship, start tracking down that Jedi, and it seems they've already started a counter-offensive of their own.

Again, the point is made that your choice here will have lasting effects. It's an MMO, so there's no save points. Once the decision is made, you can't go back and try something else in hopes that it will go better. Choices may also have ramifications beyond those that are immediately obvious. You may gain or lose loyalty with different people and factions depending on your decision. The Dark/Light meter from the single player games is still in this game. Purely Dark side players and purely Light side players will end up with some different abilities depending on what they've done.

Back to the action! We were shown some higher level combat here, rather than out-of-the-box basics. Things were just as you'd expect from iconic Star Wars figures. The Sith was deflecting blaster bolts, the Bounty Hunter made use of explosives and jetpacks. The action came to a climax when the very Jedi you were after comes to you, to put a stop to you. He was the equivalent of a boss mob, having unique abilities of his own.

"How about phat lewts?" The developer asked. "I like MMOs, they give me phat lewts."

They loot the corpse of the Jedi, "As we all know, the only thing better than a lightsaber... is two lightsabers! Especially when one has just come off the corpse of a Jedi you've just punked."

That was more or less the conclusion of the demonstration, but before they wrapped up, it was stated that yes, other MMO staples not mentioned will be present in the game. There will be guilds, there will be crafting, there will be PvP and all of the other standard MMO features.

Overall, I say this adds some fuel to the hype. Naturally, you can't determine the worth of a game from a single controlled demonstration, but the gameplay looked solid. Like I said, if you're familiar with Knights of the Old Republic, you'll feel right at home playing this MMO. Don't take my word as to whether the game looks good or not, either. Want a second opinion? Our own Joystiq had a hands on with the game, it's worth a look.
Massively is on the ground in Los Angeles this week and covering all the latest E3 MMO news coming from the convention. Check out our breaking coverage (or all the Joystiq network E3 reporting) and keep your eye on Massively's front page for the latest developments.

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