Sunday, October 23, 2011

Press Embargo? ON YOUR UNFORM!?

I don't know why it makes me think of this

An embargo? I love when that word is used in regards to information. As if the press was going to launch nukes on SWTOR from some Soviet installment in Cuba. Wonderful imagery there. Negative connotations you ask?

Whenever someone is withholding information from the public, the public will always think there is a negative reason for that. Especially with game information. All it takes is one person to ask the question, "if there's nothing wrong with it, why wouldn't they just tell us?" and you're going to have threads hundreds of pages long with speculation ranging from delays of launch dates, to the quality of the game itself being just awful.

We're going to take a look at what IGN, Massively and MMORPG thought in their first-installments of impressions. There was an obscene lack of guardian playing in these reviews and it is upsetting to say the least. We're also going to poo-poo the larger websites who skipped the JK class and praise those smaller sites who did play them. Bear with me as we go through this! No, we're going to try to be as objective as possible! #OCCUPYSWTOR!

Isnt Gaming News(made up title)
IGN has put four reviews up and will supposedly have five more released this week. None of them really interested me, we know a lot about pvp and the intricacies of Huttball and the Alderaan scenario. Companions, meh, we're not here to talk about that. Troopers are just ranged wanna-be tanks with guns(what, can't get your lightsaber up anymore?). Their impressions column was the only thing that had anything worthwhile in it.

Though what did they say?
"it's really solid. From what's been seen, there's a lot of early-level content, ranging from quests and dungeons to exploration and politics. Crafting introduces an interesting random element that makes it like an addictive slot-machine, and the dialogue and story sequences are pretty darn cool. There's some neat group content in there too, both in the form of interesting boss encounters and story situations where one person's choice affects everyone's path." ( The Article )
That is pretty much it. That is all you need to read. They said it was good. Great? Thank you a metric-ton IGN. I know this was a quick write-up but I am quite sure I could write something more compelling than that in about 10 minutes sitting at starbucks while complaining they somehow got my Quad-Espresso wrong and I am losing my mind from all the caffiene! 

IGN, you have some 'splaining to do. Now I may be less reserved in my commentary because I do not have corporate goons hanging over my shoulder and three editors red-penning all my bitching and moaning but this week you are going to have to do better than that. Not that I expected much from you to begin with. 

Now let me say something, I really respect massively and their whole blog-o-sphere they have over there in the domain. 
****Innocent Disclaimer Aside****
Are you guys kidding me? Larry Everett I can get along with. He is not anti-MMOs right now. Though I am  disappointed that he didn't choose to play any kind of Jedi Knight. Which is a small red herring we keep seeing show up here in the major articles. He mostly touched on things we already knew. 
  • The character stories are expertly crafted. 
  • Companions are worth their weight in credits. 
  • Companions can be frustrating in combat due to lack of smart AI
    • ex: Your ranged tank companion decides to grapple the enemy, except he's standing right next to you. D'oh!
Jef Reahard however is not the person I would want to review a themepark MMO like The Old Republic. He obviously has a negative outlook and though I do not particularly agree with him on some of his views, we both have opinions that are based on our differing perspectives and there is nothing wrong with that. However he is viewing the game from his own perspective and that will definitely increase the abrasiveness in which his review comes across. 

Jef played the Trooper and said a few things that I will not refute because they are his opinion but is contrary to other reviews just because he does not like the genre. I will however mock with great sarcasm. 
  • All the quests on the Troopers origin world are fedex or kill quests(/yawnworthy)
  • Combat is bland as you've heard
  • Stories are boring if you're not interested in playing the game. 
  • Game is pretty, will run on "the Commodore 64 collecting dust in your attic"
  • Plenty of exploration to be had, even on the origin worlds. 
  • Very good soundtrack
What Jef says, "At the end of the day, TOR surpassed my expectations a wee bit" which I was surprised to hear. That means through all his negative feelings drawn from his personal experiences, he was still able to garner a positive experience. Kudos Jef. I am surprised to hear you had a positive experience in SWTOR. Even though it is not what you specifically are looking for. No further bashing needed! ( Jef Reahards Impressions )

MMORPG(not that they really know much on the subject)

MMORPG, had the same variant of entries up. They had the impressions which was quite a bit different from Massively and much closer to the fanatical Star Wars(TM, last time I am doing that, sue me). MMORPG, more specifically Michael Bitton, loved the story-telling on the Trooper's home world of Old Mantell and did not find any of the questing repetitive or boring. The best example of this was, 
"The addition of story really spices up the formula, however. I certainly can’t stress that enough. If I never see another text box, it wouldn’t be too soon!"
Michael also goes on to say that once you get off your origin world, things really open up. One thing he noted is that when you finish your origin world story-quest you can opt to go to Coruscant by way of the Essels flashpoint. Which is great to hear that flashpoints are not just dungeons. They are actually part of the story. I wish other developers,( BL******!), had thought of that!  After that Michael goes off into Light vs Dark, changing morality and the nature of the Trooper, which we all know is just boom boom, shoot this, blah blah boring. If you are looking to read on to the Morality portion or the Trooper section it is available here!

So what did we learn here? Really not a whole lot. We knew the storytelling would be good, it is Bioware after all. We knew what PvP was going to look like as we've all seen the youtubes. We knew that everyone was going to play Troopers, we don't need that.

Though what we have here are three really positive reviews, there are some negatives, certain aspects each reviewer might have found lacking or less-than-functional. However what we can take away is that so far, Bioware has pulled off the game we all knew they could. Though I am selling it short I am sure, let us get to the part we really care about, Jedi Knights!

Ars Technica
Ars Technica is a website I don't frequent. I am sure I should. It seems they actually wanted to use Lightsabers in a Star Wars game! Joking aside they did an article that is a great read on Jedi Knights and the overall game itself. Really nothing new here for those of us who have read my previous blogs. We know Jedi Knights use lightsabers, get force leap and get a sweet droid named T7 as our first companion.

One little thing I would like to point out is what Casey Johnston stated about your battle stance as a Jedi Knight as you progress,
"One of the cooler touches I noticed was that as your character levels, your combat ability evolves visually. As a Jedi knight, you begin by cautiously waving your practice (plastic?) light saber at the bodies of enemies, executing the occasional sequence of choreographed moves."
Now that is a great touch. I bet on my third or fourth Jedi knight I will not even notice, but the first time through I know I will be looking for this. That is one way to get more progressed through something other than gear. Your battle prowess visually becomes more confident and effective. (Ars Technica Article)
 Two lightsabers way up! 

Ten Ton Hammer
I have been to TTH a whole bunch of times. Usually it's been for a powerleveling profession guide in warcraft. I'm not going to lie. Their website is all usefulness and not much fluff. Their Jedi Knight article is no different. We have the breakdowns in neat little blocks with very little left for interpretation until the last four paragraphs for the overall impressions. So, if you are looking at getting some actual tangible information you might not have known before, it is all in this article!

First of all Jedi Knights need to build Focus in order to use other moves. If you look at my previous blog you can see the screenshots of many abilities. These abilities cost Focus. The way we build focus is to use Strike, or Sundering Strike in our(Guardian case). We do not know if there is any benefit to using Sundering Strike once we have 5 sunders up(that is all the armor debuff stacks to). 

Also there is Jedi Might, which increases damage and healing by the party for a period of time. I am excited to see the Jedi bringing some group utility to the table! Though if you are at all familiar with Tanking metrics, this kind of thing for one tank can lead to a proverbial arms race(See: Raid Cooldowns in World of Warcraft) and things get out of hand quickly. 

Halfshell is our writer here for this at TTH and I am somewhat disappointed by the conclusion he or she wrote. The article's conclusion is a very good place to start if you don't know anything about the Jedi Knight. Maybe even the game in general. Though I think most of us who are even anywhere near this blog have read anything and everything we can. This article comes quite a bit short of my expectations of what the expose of gameplay styles of the Jedi Knight and their story should have been. Disappointed but there are still a few good tidbits in there. If you're looking to take a view yourself, head on over to this place right hurrr

My own worst enemy is knowledge
My problem with the recent release on this press embargo is that we already know basically everything they're saying. I have read through the articles, the stories, the blogs, and yeah, we know, cool story, fluid gameplay, and the Jedi Knight has a lightsaber. Thanks for the compelling writing guys. 

Personally I spend a lot of my time on sites that violate the NDA. I know things are going to change. I am a mature gamer who can accept that features that might be the way they are now may change completely overnight. That is fine with me. Your NDA Bioware I just do not respect this close to launch. 

Moreover the press were only allowed Republic side and the first twenty levels. No thanks. That's barely part of the game right there. I work seventy hours a week, spend five days at the gym, and could still have gotten in a good thirty hours of game-time in two weeks to get past that. I hope Bioware lets us see some end-game before launch. I know I will play it regardless, as a Jedi Guardian, however I want to know that there will at least be something past level twenty that is engaging and worthwhile. 

We did not learn a whole lot through this embargo. They might as well of kept the nukes in Cuba and just left it there with the NDA. Until we hear something compelling from the press, or gamers about the latter half of the game, more specifically every-day life at level fifty, I'm not going to give them my seal of approval. 

***DISCLAIMER*** All logos and trademarks are not mine and are copy and pasted terribly. I do not own or endorse any information disseminated within this article and if George Lucas or his Lawyers have an issue with it get in line.

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