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Hands-on: Star Wars: The Old Republic


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If you're a Star Wars fan, you've no doubt read about the recently revealed, final two classes in BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic: the Jedi Consular and Sith Inquisitor. The latter is a powerful Sith warrior who harnesses the dark side of The Force to perform a range of powered-up attacks, such as Force Lightning. We recently paid a visit to LucasArts HQ at San Francisco's Presidio, where we got a chance to zap a few dozen enemies while playing as the new class.

The Inquisitor should be thought of as the uber-Sith, beyond the likes of Darth Vader and Darth Maul, and more in line with Darth Sidious / Emperor Palpatine from the films. This isn't a character whose strength lies primarily in mastery of lightsaber dueling; the Inquisitor likes to let others get their hands dirty while they turn the tide of battles in more grandiose ways through Force manipulation. Still, like all the classes in SW:TOR, they have to start out somewhere. In their case -- as with the Sith Warrior -- it happens to be the Sith's homeworld of Korriban. Instead of fighting Jedi during our (all-too-brief) demo, we went ... tomb raiding.

Gallery: Star Wars: The Old Republic (12/03/09) | 17 Photos

We were tasked by higher-ups in the Sith Order to enter excavated ruins on Korriban and recover a series of ancient texts. This sequence provided a good taste of what's to come from the finished game, which sets itself apart from the likes of World of Warcraft through the use of fully voice-acted story sequences integrated into its quests.

While navigating the corridors of the planet's sprawling, temple-like fortifications on our way to the dig site, we were approached by another Sith. She informed us that some Jedi had been captured and were being held prisoner on Korriban, and wanted us to interrogate them. Knowing our time was short, we left this for later, having seen what will likely be only the beginning of multiple, intertwining quests for each class.

Once we'd made our way into the ruins, we practiced an array of ranged attacks, including Force Lightning and an ability that leeched the very life force of enemies -- like nasty-looking K'lor'slugs and rogue combat droids. To be honest, it was very easy, basic stuff ... if anything, the demo seemed designed more to showcase how solid and good looking the game is at this point in its development than to really lay on the challenge. As we progressed further into the ruins, we encountered more side quests, including one where we were asked to locate and discover the secrets of a powerful device fueled by blood. Hey, we were playing Sith!

While we only got about 20 minutes with the Inquisitor demo, we came away feeling good about where the game is headed in terms of its fundamentals, story integration and visuals. However, we've yet to adventure alongside a companion character (one of the Sith Inquisitor's is a Kaleesh, better known as what Revenge of The Sith / The Clone Wars villain General Grievous was before becoming a cyborg.) There's also the unanswered question of whether there will be space flight, and maybe even interstellar combat, in the game. Now that would truly make SW:TOR a force to be reckoned with among competing MMOs.

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