September 26, 2012 – Jedi Warriors Pledge Death to Darth Vader: Over the last third of a century no new fiction has engaged the popular imagination and become as thoroughly essential an element of mass culture as “Star Wars.” There can’t be many people anywhere who wouldn’t at least recognize a lightsaber or Darth Vader.
Electronic Arts released Star Wars: The Old Republic, a sprawling multiplayer online adventure that is the first legitimate competition that World of Warcraft has faced for the hearts, minds, hours and dollars of millions of players. “Star Wars” games have been around for decades, but the Old Republic provides the most extensive opportunity to become your own Jedi warrior.
A lot of attention has been paid to the competition between two big combat games: Battlefield 3, also from Electronic Arts, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 from Activision Blizzard, which also produces World of Warcraft.
But an online downloadable computer game like World of Warcraft or the Old Republic entices players to commit their time and emotion to a virtual character over years and generally to pay around $15 a month for the privilege. Most importantly, these persistent games populated by thousands of simultaneous players — they are called massively multiplayer online games — generate real-life relationships and communities.
And so over the next few years the competition between World of Warcraft and the Old Republic may have much more far-reaching consequences, both for players and the companies behind them, than any shooter showdown.
The Old Republic is by far the best, most exciting online game since the original World of Warcraft. It should be a Star Wars fan’s dream.
BioWare, the Electronic Arts division that makes the Old Republic, enjoy deep respect and adoration among millions of players. BioWare, along with Rockstar (makers of Grand Theft Auto), has been a leader in driving extensive, believable voice acting into games.
The Old Republic moves beyond World of Warcraft by including full voice-over for every computer-controlled character. The effect in the Old Republic is to draw players into an emotional connection with the story of their characters.
BioWare and Electronic Arts have spent somewhere between $125 million and $200 million making the Old Republic. That would make it the most expensive game ever. Fortunately for the makers, it shows.
For a player ready to the use state-of-the-art technology, in terms of lasers, spaceships and, of course, lightsabers, Star Wars: The Old Republic beckons brightly.
The Master of Disaster