SW:TOR Combat a Little Meh?

These guys remind me of Stabs from Futurama

I sat down with the new Star Wars: The Old Republic vid-doc today, after reading on Massively that Game Trailers had it up on exclusive. Now, I was pretty hyped up going on. What, with a couple of my blogger buddies being excited over it.  I believe the expression “Awesome Sauce” was used.

So, I went in expecting something magically delicious. Now, I’m feeling a little let down.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice and all. But has anyone else noticed just how choppy all of that gameplay footage is? I know it’s alpha but let’s not ignore the fact that the thing looks like it’s running at about 15 frames a second. I would be much more impressed if the combat, which is intended to look fluid, actually was.

And then, there’s the unavoidable fact that it’s exactly more of the same: hot bar driven, cooldown managed, hit 3 to snare, PvE.  Well, with a sparkly Star Wars veneer. They hide the UI in the video but, if it was there, you’d see skills being being mashed and little glitters when their timers were up.

That being said, the animations are pretty flashy. I especially like the Sith “lightning in your FACE” move. And, choppy or not, I’m pretty sure I saw a Jedi hit a laser beam from behind his back. That’s some Jackie Chan style crap, there.

Now, the choppiness thing will probably be brushed up by launch. So, it’s not the biggest of deals. The fact that it will be “more of the same” really isn’t either. MMOs are MMOs, and this has truly been the Era of the Action Bar. But, apart from looking spiffy, I don’t see them pushing any boundaries here.

Luke... I am your half-biological third cousin...

One of the developers actually said something that concerned me a little bit. To him, several players working to take down a single bad guy isn’t very heroic. And, really, I suppose it’s not. Then again, what’s the alternative, really weak NPCs? Finely crafted set pieces in a “cutscene driven MMO?” I’m not sure. Probably the latter, but it’s a fine line to walk when forging new ground in the MMO-sphere.

Taken for what it is, combat in TOR could still turn out to be hellaciously fun. I’m fully expecting it to get a great game and I’ll have it in my hands on release day. I’m just a little concerned that we’re entering into Warhammer Online type hype here, and we all know how that turned out. Star Wars will not be the next great hope for MMORPGs. It’ll be an alternative, and probably a good one.

But, let’s not kill this thing with our own expectations. Right now, the biggest threat to SW:TOR’s long term success is this marketing campaign. And us.

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