Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few years, you've probably heard something about STAR WARS GALAXIES, the first massively multiplayer online RPG (MMORPG) based in the STAR WARS universe. But for those of you who might not be video game savvy, here's the premise: imagine creating your own character in the STAR WARS universe, making him become anything you want, and being able to "live" in that galaxy far, far away. Sound good? Read on.
STAR WARS GALAXIES has had many delays since the original announcement of the game. It was originally supposed to be released in 2001, then pushed back to winter of 2002, and was finally released in July. I got on the beta test in February, and I would have reviewed this game earlier, but the thing about MMORPGs is that they are constantly changing (and LucasArts was still working out some bugs in the finished product). But now that the game is running smoothly, is it worth the money you have to invest in it? You bet.
The game obviously retails for $50, but there is also a monthly fee of $15 that will surely aggravate the sometimes gamer. But the game does come with a free month so you can try it out before the fees kick in. And you'll need to have a pretty decent PC with a recommended broadband connection to play. I'm not saying you can't play the game with dial-up, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Now, onto the game itself. You start off with the choice of 8 different races, including Human, Wookie, Mon Calamarian, and Rodian. Of course, you can make your character male or female; it's all a preference. After you've done this, you can literally change almost every aspect of your character, from hair color and eye color to height and weight. Heck, you can even change the length and width of the nose and mouth! Once you've decided on your character, you can set his class: there are six choices here, and they are Artisan, Marksman, Brawler, Entertainer, Medic and Scout. These classes can change into many things, like Droid Engineer, Architect, Creature Handler, Weapon Specialist, or even Dancer, Musician or Doctor. The possibilities are endless in the game, and you can even combine a lot of professions to make just what you are looking for. Yes, the Jedi profession is in the game, but it is unlockable; you will really have to work a lot to get to that profession.
After this, you get to pick one of five starting worlds. There are ten planets in all for you to explore. Each planet is pretty big, with some that are bigger than others. Of course, the bigger planets will have a larger population, and the more popular planets like Tatooine and Corellia will be pretty laggy at times.
For some people, the game will take a little time to get used to. For the most part, the game is controlled by the keyboard for movement and most of the commands you can issue. The mouse is used to click on things (obviously) within the game, like fellow players or vendors within the game. Speaking of vendors, each city has a bazaar which you can access where you can buy things. It's basically an auction type thing (a buddy of mine calls it EBay), and while most users overcharge for their items, you can find a good deal occasionally). From here, you can buy droids to run around and fight with you, hides and bone from animals to craft things, or even houses to place on the planet you want to call "home".
GALAXIES is probably the best looking MMORPG on the market right now, maybe even one of the best looking PC games. The character models are done very well, and so are the animations. But this game really shines with its environment models. Every part of the environment seems real, from the grass swaying in the breeze or the ripples on the water as you run through it. The sight and sound of rain has never been a more welcome sight. And of course, we're once again blessed with the great soundtrack of all five STAR WARS movies.
Sounds like a great game, huh? Well, it does have a few problems. GALAXIES can be a little repetitive at times and that might turn off the casual gamer. Also, to really get anywhere in the game, you have to be able to devote a lot of time to it. Oh yeah, don't get frustrated if you logon sometimes and the server is down. Trust me, it has gotten a lot better lately.
But seriously, STAR WARS GALAXIES was worth the wait. While the fees and in-depth of the game may turn off the casual gamer, this is one not to be missed.