Thursday, January 05, 2012

Waiting For Somebody

I'm not sure when my last post was, and I'm pretty sure it was a few years ago, but I decided to put this wonderful love letter on the internet. See, when you quit a game that charges a monthly fee, they tend to want to know why, and usually people probably give pretty short answers. I don't.

To: Bioware
Jan 5, 2012, roughly 3:30 AM

I'll be honest: The game's just not very good:

- It feels like a really good single-player game with a chatbox in the upper-left corner. That's really what differentiates it from KOTOR. A chatbox.

- The UI is lacking, particularly in the lack of ability to move unit-frames or hotbars. This is a huge deal for me. I need three bars at the center of the bottom of the screen or I can't function.

- The voice-acting and cinematics are exceptionally well done. Unfortunately, they also start or end dramatically average MMO "kill this many X" or "bring back this many Y" quests. When you get right down to it, it's the usual MMO quests but now WITH AUDIO!

- Other than reading the quests to the player, it doesn't feel ambitious. It feels like any other MMO with a Star Wars skin slapped on it. I find this very sad, because Star Wars Galaxies was, at its launch, a terribly ambitious game that tried to do a lot of things VERY differently. Unfortunately, it catered to a specific kind of crowd that didn't exactly match up with the Star Wars demographic (which, really, is everybody).

- When I hit level 10 and opened up the talent tree screen, I pretty much wanted to die. It gave me flashbacks to the bloated talent trees of World of Warcraft circa 2009, and these were not good "Hey, man, remember when we put the principal's car on the school roof?" flashbacks.

- The Galactic Trade Network UI... oh, this was where my crafting dreams ended. I love auction houses in games. Buy low, sell high, make money on the margins, and sell my own wares while I'm at it. But the GTN UI is a tragedy the likes of which I've never seen. If I can't bring myself to shop for materials on the GTN because the UI is so bad, nobody's going to shop for my crafted goods. So, there, you have just killed the item for crafted goods, making crafting utterly pointless.

- The removal of a Search function on the forums was cute. I'm totally unsure as to what the point of that was, but it makes it very difficult to find a thread about an issue that I may be having or a question that's likely been asked before.

- The forums feel like there's nobody at Bioware either reading or watching them. A blue-tracker would be nice, but that would probably require turning the Search function back on.

- The /getdown exploit has, I understand, been fixed, but it's just ridiculous that something like that could even get out of beta testing. That is just inexcusable. Doesn't affect me directly, but it makes Bioware look like it doesn't know what the hell it's doing, and I'm starting to believe that hype.

- While I'm on the subject of bugs, some of which may be fixed: Item linking, party chat, guild chat, client crashes... SEVERAL of these were apparently issues during beta, but some genius said, "It's okay, we can ship this. We've got a street date to hit." I don't mind queues, I don't mind the occasional server instability, but I mind it when known bugs aren't fixed before release.


Righto, so I've just given you more honesty than most reviews do. Hell, IGN's review isn't even a critical review, rather it's, "Here's what this aspect of the game is like, here's what this aspect of the game is like," rather than actually criticizing the game (I'm betting they're waiting until they get their copies of Mass Effect 3 in-hand before saying what they really think, but IGN is where a 7.5 means never having to say you're sorry).

Okay, it's better than Motor City Online. Again, though, it's just not ambitious. I was hoping for just a few things that would have been mind-blowingly new. Nothing specific, just ... I'll describe the feeling I'm talking about.

- After years of playing first-person shooters, I'd come to the conclusion that one is the same as the next. When you get right down to it, they're all the same. Portal is different. It fundamentally alters the shooter into a comparatively non-violent puzzle game in a shooter engine. It was such a new concept that I immediately told my friends they HAD to buy it.

There's nothing with this game that makes me call my friends and say, "You HAVE to play this." Because, really, the only selling point that I'd have is, "It's Star Wars." And that's not enough.