Were the Old Republic any other MMO in existence, or even in development, I'd have probably walked away from its Gamescom presentation thinking "oh, this looks slightly interesting".
Considering the license it's using and the developers behind it, though, I couldn't help but end up a little disappointed instead.
I am a lifelong Star Wars fan. I am a lifelong video gamer. I've been a fan of BioWare for a very long time, and honestly believe Knights of the Old Republic is one of the finest pieces of Star Wars lore ever built, whether the product of George Lucas, Timothy Zahn or anyone else who has ever written about a galaxy far, far away.
BioWare is going out of its way to tell the world how Old Republic will revolutionise the MMO. That line was thrown out at least twice during my showing.
But this game? What I saw today isn't doing it for me. It's telling me that it's revolutionising the genre, but all I'm seeing is just another MMO.
The screen was cluttered with a sea of icons, buttons and meters that make no sense to the interested bystander. The animation and combat is stilted and artificial, a crude real-time representation of the statistical dice-rolling going on under the hood. Defeating major enemies, like the one my demo concluded with, is time-consuming and reliant on whittling down ridiculously long health meters.
All standard fare for an MMO. And for MMO fans, they'll be appreciated. But for me, a massive Star Wars fan expecting a revolution, none of what I saw was very interesting, or representative of why I love that universe in the first place. Especially when the game's famously bombastic cinematic cutscenes (which even opened my demonstration) are so quickly followed by little but clicking, clicking then clicking some more.
To its credit, it's trying a number of neat new things, like an arena combat mode that throws out the universe's established sides and randomised instances that play like singleplayer RPG quests. These are features that, if you're used to this kind of thing, will be of worth looking into.
But I don't think that's good enough for this game. A little unfair, perhaps, given few other games are so burdened by expectation and (a new) hope, but hey, that's Star Wars for you.
I'll be getting some hands-on time with the game tomorrow; given my prior love for all parties involved I can hopefully end my Old Republic Gamescom experience on a more optimistic note.