Bioware, a company famous for its role playing games, has recently released a new PC game called Star Wars: The Old Republic. If you’ve ever dreamt of being Darth Maul or Han Solo, this game puts you in the driver’s seat of your own personal heroic story. For the past couple of weeks I was a Sith Warrior who was following the orders of my master Darth Baras while I was secretly plotting against him. There were points in the game where Darth Baras would ask me during cinematic conversations why I was so merciful to people he sent me out to “deal with.” My response was always something along of the lines of not seeing the need in killing them or that they may be a potential source of information. But my real reasoning was that I was slowly building allies or that they could be useful later on. It turned out to be the case, and a team of enemies I had spared later came in to help me fight a difficult enemy my master had sent me out to kill. After beating that enemy I made him swear loyalty to me, and I faked his death so that one day he would help me overthrow my master.
The point I’m trying to convey is that this game is an awesome simulation of character. Your choices have meaning and impact your story. For example as I was making a purely selfish choice, my companion asked me if this was the kind of man I wanted to be and it made me feel bad. Even though I knew it was just a game I felt as if I had to make things right with her, and just as in real life, all your choices are permanent and shape your character and how others respond to you. Life or death, good or evil, mercy or cruelty are all things that you have to think about with many of the choices in the game. Just as easily as someone you show kindness to may help you later on, they could also turn around and ambush you when you least expect it.
Star Wars: The Old Republic pushes the boundaries of what it means to be moral by testing you and allowing you to be as selfish or selfless as you want to be; appropriately, living with the consequences and the moral choices can get pretty deep. In the game, a sobbing woman begged me to find her teenage son. So I went off and I find him and it turned out he had been turned into a child soldier. My options were to kill him, bring him back to his mother or leave him alone. What I found strange was that the immoral decision was to return him to his grieving mother and the moral decision was to lie to her and tell her he was dead. Choices like that might make you stop and think for a while.
Other aspects of this game are that its a Massively Multi-player online game and that means you will play with other people cooperatively and play against members of the opposing faction. Visually it uses a stylized art theme which gives the game a cartoonish feel, which is in contrast to the style most games today use of being photo-realistic. The best part of the game, however, may be the music. A full orchestra and composers take the genius of John Williams original music to new levels. Each piece of music fits its environment. For example the dark and militaristic Sith Empire has a theme reminiscent of the Soviet Union’s national anthem while the Jedi Order has a peaceful-sounding vibe to it. In conclusion, if you are a fan of Star Wars and have always wanted to have a wookie best friend help you make life and death decisions, then this game was made for you.