RPGDot Network    

Asheron's Call 2: Legions
Display full image
Pic of the moment
pics from the gallery

Site Navigation


   Games Database
   Top 100
   Release List
   Support Files



   Staff Members
   Privacy Statement


Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided - Review
Ekim, 2003-07-10

Star Wars being a pop culture icon it's no wonder the community was waiting for this title with such anticipation. But the nature of anticipation being such as it is, disappointment is bound to follow close behind. Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided (SWG from here on) will both succeed and fail at the same time because of its title, a burden that no game of this genre could have truly bore well. This game suffers from a dual personality that few have been able to truly put apart. But when one looks past the Star Wars side of it, they can discover a wonderful game with a potential to match its ambitions. Had this game's title simply been "An Empire Divided" without the benefit of the Star Wars name attached to it, I am willing to wager that SWG would probably not have been as anticipated, and the community would have embraced it instead of having it hanged on the street. So, for good or ill here is a positive SWG review.

Creating a character

SWG's character creation has already been hailed as one of the better ones of the genre. I agree with that, as far as the genre goes, but it's still a fairly simple process. In short, the character creation exists for you to choose your character's race, appearance, and finally his initial career. The better part of the process is spent in customizing your avatar's looks, and SWG's system is wonderful in most respects. It is possible to shape your avatar entirely in any way you want, from the level of nose protrusion, to the size of your belly and amount of muscles he or she will have. It's also very possible that no two avatars will ever look quite alike on any given server, which says a lot about SWG's commitment to individuality. Another great thing is that your choice of race does not hinder your choice of profession, as so many other games do. The choice is truly yours to make any combination that you wish for, regardless of penalties such combinations might entail.

Graphics & Game World

Display full image
Screenshots do not do justice to this game. I gave SWG's Graphics the same score as I had given to Asheron's Call 2. But make no mistake: SWG's graphics are light years ahead (no pun intended). The engine is smooth as long as you're not too eager to put every feature at their maximum settings. But rest assured that even at the lowest settings the game looks gorgeous!

There are 10 planets in SWG as of right now. You have the choice to start on 6 of them, and the others are considered "advanced" planets, which means that they should be explored by players with at least some game experience behind their belt. The environments vary greatly depending on the planet you choose to go to, and all of them look spectacular. A change in venue is just a transport ticket away, given that you have the credits to pay for it of course.

Display full image
The problem with the initial setup though is that out of the 6 starting planets you have a choice to land on after creating your character, some are bound to be more populated than others. Since this is a player-driven economy, more populated planets have a distinct advantage over smaller, less populated ones. The game does not do a very good job at easing the player into the economy in fact. By providing fewer starting cities, on a smaller amount of planets, the game would have helped focusing the early hours of a player's life. Instead, the game is stretching the population thin across those 6 planets! It's nice to have a choice, but that choice is sometimes detrimental to a player's initial experience in SWG.

The even bigger problem with SWG in general, and the game worlds in particular, concerns content. As it stands right now there is little static content in the game. There are supposedly dungeons scattered around, but only a few people have seen any of them. A few notable structures guarded by especially noteworthy opponents scattered throughout the planets' landscape would have gone a long way in helping the content issues. This lack of static content could cripple the game in the long run.

Sound & Music

Every Star Wars game comes complete with some nicely orchestrated John Williams music. So, of course the music here is familiar to any fan. It is nice and not too obtrusive. It's not on constantly, and only gently starts at key moments (such as when nearing a city, or entering combat). It's Star Wars music, and that should be saying enough.

Sound is also of the Star Wars kind. The engine sounds of shuttles passing overhead, the very familiar sounds of blasters firing, the beeping droids rolling by on the city streets all help ground this game in the Star Wars universe. Suffice to say that the sounds are of good quality, and go a long way in helping the players immerse themselves in the game's universe.

Gameplay & Interface

Display full image
Most MMORPGs have always been criticized for having a steep learning curve. Most of them don't help themselves by using control schemes that are proprietary, and very hard to get familiar with. Although SWG does have a steep learning curve, the fact that the control scheme can be completely customized is a boon for all players. You have 4 preset keymaps that should make almost everyone happy (Everquest and FPS style being the two most notable ones) which will re-map your keyboard keys to match your preferred style of play. Learning the layout is as simple as re-mapping the keys to the desired functions.

Display full image
The interface is generally well laid out, but what is more wonderful about it is how customizable it is. Every window, every box, every screen can be resized and moved about whichever way feels best. The only problem with the interface is in learning how to access which window to do what you need to. The Holocron (the help screen) does a great job at showing you how to do most of the basic things you will need, but it takes a good amount of time before you get familiar with the whole interface. Also, the initial tutorial that is offered at the character creation is a must to anyone that is beginning. And for once the tutorial is not only essential but very well done.


Everyone knows that MMORPGs are not known to have engaging combat. I can honestly say that SWG's combat engine is both good and bad at the same time. It's kind of a half empty/half full glass sort of problem. On the one hand the combat is quite clever in the way it negates any ill effect that lag could cause in the game. By offering you the possibility of queuing up several actions for your character in advance, the game foregoes the questionable key-bashing fest that some MMORPGs use in which you hope that lag won't affect your timing too much. It's quite clever and very welcome since lag rarely affects whether your actions trigger in time or not.

On the other hand, the queuing interface helps the combat become so automated that it borders on the heavily boring. Most of the time you will find yourself starting combat by queuing a few actions, then sit back and watch as you and your opponent exchange rounds.

Combat is just not SWG's strongest aspect. But that doesn't detract from the game in general though, since SWG relies heavily on much more than just combat to encourage advancement, which is refreshing to say the least!

Character Advancement

This is where SWG shines the brightest. Those who know me already are aware that I am a longtime adept of skill-based over level-based advancement systems. SWG makes me truly happy. Any given profession has 4 different skill lines that can be advanced by gaining different kinds of experience points. For instance, a scout will be able to gain scouting XP by harvesting raw materials from the corpses of the creatures he or his group mates killed. He can also gain Wilderness Survival XP by building camps to rest and heal wounds out in the wild, or trapping XP for successfully using traps on creatures. Gaining this XP will enable him to gain access to a new skill level once he has enough.

Display full image
Of course, this skill-based system presents its own advantages and disadvantages. The most obvious advantage is that you will not find the typical problem of low-level characters finding it hard to get in groups because everyone is of much higher level. Since there are no levels in SWG, anyone can group together, and everyone can and will contribute to the group in some way. The skill system is also very liberal. Anyone is free to go whichever way they want, regardless of their initial career choice.

The problem that SWG's skill system creates is that it is very easy for players to become self sufficient. While this is not necessarily a problem in itself (it does make a player able to go solo quite well), it becomes problematic when grouping. Someone that is concentrating to become a true scout can sometimes find it hard to cope with a partner that is primarily of another profession but who also wants to train his own scout skills… It becomes a struggle if one of them is unwilling to compromise. So in effect the skill system sometimes works against grouping for those characters that can be more self sufficient than others.

Community (PvP and Guilds)

Display full image
SWG being set in the Star Wars universe, it is only normal that there be two opposing factions, namely the Rebels and Imperials. Every player starts out as a neutral character and needs to gain faction points with either one of these to be accepted within their ranks. Until you choose a faction you can participate in PvP by choosing sides in every struggle you come across. Faction players have two options regarding PvP. They may openly declare themselves as a member of a faction (overt), or remain covert and choose when and where they engage in PvP, if they ever want to. The choice is always yours unless you decide to be overt which means that any other overt player of the opposing faction can shoot you at any time. Of course you can do the same too. So PvP is left to the choice of the player at all times, and that is good.

Guilds are called Player Associations (PA) in SWG. It is mostly the standard fare as far as guilds goes in MMORPGs. The real benefit of PA's will show its full potential once player-run cities are implemented, which they are not at the time of this review. Until then there doesn't seem to be any real benefit to joining one.


Display full image
If you forget Star Wars and concentrate on the game at hand, this is one of the better MMORPGs to come out in a long while! The skill system is robust and offers a wide variety of development possibilities (although some skill lines admittedly need looking into). This variety, and the freedom associated with the advancement system, somewhat makes the one-character-per-server rule a little easier to swallow.

Static content is a big problem right now though. Sometimes you can go out on a trek for a good 30 minutes, running through the map without ever seeing a distinct feature on the landscape. Now the content problem doesn't become apparent right away. It's more in a long-term kind of forward thinking that you begin to realize that it's seriously lacking. When you've hunted all the random nests you could find in the game after 2 months, what else will you do? That's when static content begins to take some importance. Right now there is only very little in SWG. Content still needs to be added before the game is even complete, which is why some BETA testers warned potential players about the game.

It can also become quite tedious and repetitive to do the tasks that will be required of a player to gain experience and skills. Some careers may be more tedious than others, like the Artisan, Medic and Entertainer professions. The trick seems to be to juggle between everything you can do without being too eager. But there is still heavy tedium involved with some careers, which can discourage a few players.

SWG creates a good balance between the players and the economy. Everything you see on sale is player made. There is no loot to speak of, no special items to hunt for, no 50th level to attain. Which means that the Achievers among us might find SWG disappointing. Before buying this game ask yourself one question: What do you enjoy most out of an MMORPG? If the answer is to gather the best loot, to find the weapons that are more powerful than most, to be the first to get to the top level, then I would suggest you pass on SWG as it might not appeal to you. If you like exploring, if you like helping others (and be rewarded for it!), or if the idea of spending a few minutes fishing by a digital lake with a friend for no other reward than a nice in-character chat, then SWG might very well please you.

Display full image
And as far as the role-playing aspect of SWG is concerned, there hasn't been a game of this genre since Ultima Online that gave more tools to the community to create a perfect role-player's world. Whether that community embraces this or not can't be SOE or Lucasarts' fault, but the players are given the tools. It is very possible for someone to play this game without needing to kill one monster or humanoid to gain their master level, and that's a great thing indeed!

SWG is a big game, with big potential. It does not, however, reach this full potential at this time (show me the MMORPG that ever did in its first month of existence). Yet it already shows great promise. Is it worth the money? At $15 USD a month I would dare say that it's pretty expensive, and should be reserved to those who really know and realize what they're getting into. But SWG is already rewarding as it is right now, if you are willing to look past the early bugs and issues plaguing the game. Server downtime is recurrent, and still something to be expected in the next few weeks. Players yet unsure about joining SWG's community should wait a while until player-run cities, or player-owned mounts and transports are implemented.

Display full image
Overall SWG is quite a good game, filled with pleasurable moments, and an immersive world in which to dwell. Perhaps SWG doesn't really revolutionize the genre as some expected (or wanted) it to. But in fact SWG has a true personality of its own, and offers a gameplay that is refreshing enough in this genre to make players forget about the other game they left behind. If more static content is added, and if the story elements that SOE promises each month manage to be as good as we hope, SWG will be even better.

We will be keeping you up-to-date regarding SWG with regular Status Reports right here on the RPGDot Network, so check back again regularly to know what's happening with it!

The Verdict
Graphics (10%) 95%
Sound (10%) 90%
Control (10%) 95%
Community (15%) 80%
Game World (15%) 70%
Fun (40%) 85%
Overall 85%

The ups and downs:
Gorgeous GraphicsLack of static content
Skill-based advancement systemBoring combat
Non-combat career is a realityHi system requirements
Many different environmentsMany bugs still need fixing
Choice of PvP play to cater toTerrible lag in busy areas

Reviewer's System
CPU: AMD Athlon XP 1800+
RAM: 512 MB DDR333
Graphics GeForce 3 Ti200 Pro (128 MB)
Sound Creative Sound Blaster Live!
OS: Windows XP Pro, DX 9.1

Average Reader Ratings: 4.91 (55 votes)
Rate this title and view comments     Game Info     Printer Friendly Version

All original content of this site is copyrighted by RPGWatch. Copying or reproducing of any part of this site is strictly prohibited. Taking anything from this site without authorisation will be considered stealing and we'll be forced to visit you and jump on your legs until you give it back.