Well, a few things. Here's a review of Star Wars: The Old Republic. (Department of Redundancy Department, anyone?)
This is the first thing I should start on. The gameplay is mostly well-thought out - unlike most MMO's, I find I can actually be a little more involved in the fights since they don't automatically happen. It also makes you think more strategically with your buffs, to some extent. The worlds are massive and very occupying, offering hours on end of gameplay in the form of side quests, area quests, and general exploration.
But there are a few bad things. Random difficulty spikes spot around the game, and it can be relatively difficult to do well, anything, without a group. This was done intentionally by Bioware to discourage solo play, but obviously enough, that's not a good thing - not everyone plays MMO's to socialize. Additionally, the atmosphere occasionally feels more like a futuristic version of Skyrim with lightsabers. Also, it is incredibly easy to fall behind the leveling curve - miss one sidequest and the main class quest might quickly become impossible to complete without a few more hours of strenuous level grinding. Which brings me to the quests themselves.
The quests tend to run badly for leveling. You can't go back to certain quests to level grind, as after you hit a certain level, BOOM: you get next to nothing in XP for it. And I mean it goes from 2000 xp to 6 xp. This tends to make things difficult when that 2000 could really make a difference. Couple that with experience reductions (huge ones) for Free-to-Play players and you've got a real problem with the leveling curve. Fortunately, leveling is easy enough to balance things out with the right items.
Another problem is exactly that: the Free-to-Play system. It's more of a fancy demo version than anything else. You can do the class quests and the side quests, but the experience reductions force you to use very rare and valuable XP boosts. Additionally, alot of features on the game are blocked for subscribers only - the Cargo Hold in the ships, for example. Something that comes in useful from time to time, ya know? Unfortunately for Bioware, I am not encouraged to subscribe just because features that I may want are blocked - in fact, this actually has potential to drive people away from the game, as this is much less than a taste.
That being said, don't let everything written here make you think bad - the gameplay has some good ideals to it. Animation and capability are introduced as the game goes on, and some things aren't group-oriented - I was able to take Elite level enemies and bosses 3 levels higher than myself with some practice. The mobs tend to be easy as you go through and the defensive buffs, unlike most MMORPGs, actually work. With a noticeable difference, by the way.
Another good things is that alot of quests are set in Story areas - areas that are accessed by each player individually, rather than a bunch at a time. This prevents spawn waiting and loot whoring of bosses because each instance is unique to its player. You will always get to kill the boss - there won't a level 3 waiting to take the last hit because lulz. Additionally, speaking of, enemies you fight become locked to other players not in your group. Ala, you won't be forced to sacrifice amazing loots of armor/weapons or valuable XP because xXDickBagMcgeeXx decided to steal your kill.
The Story itself is interesting and gripping, as well as unique to each character class. The game offers a lot of player choice and the like, with ever so little things tending to be a slight bit different. The problem?
There isn't much to say, but there is this: The story mostly ignores character development. Playing a light-sided Sith doesn't have a different result, nor does playing a Dark-side Jedi. This affected me very little as my Sith character is mainly stuck to the darkside, as I originally intended when I started playing the game. The thing is:
Sith Marauder: I just want to tal-
Jedi: NO YOU DON'T! FIGHT ME!
Sith: No, seriousl-
Jedi: LEEEROOOY JEEEN-
- one fight later*
Jedi: You beat me?! D: Well kill me already.
Sith: I'm not gonna kill you. /-.-
That is the normal conversation of a light sided Sith. Just saying. The story needs to delve more into character development - I'd say going as far as actually allowing characters to switch sides and change the direction of the story. If it's supposed to be your own Star Wars Saga, why does it feel like it's a story someone else made up where you have only character choice?
Overall, the game isn't that bad. Of course, though, the flaws being kindled out isn't supposed to be asking too much, right? The story shouldn't ignore character development and the Free-to-Play section should have a little less restriction so that a little more can be gleaned from the game. Overall, I would say that the game deserves a 6/10. The gameplay and story are good enough to suffice, but the bad things can easily be corrected by a professional developer, which is what BioWare is.
All in all, I'd recommend SWTOR to kill time and have fun, but generally, if you aren't subscribed, it can get boring after awhile.
Reviewed by Senjumaru Shutara