Anyone who has played an MMO knows that if a developer needs to get two things right, it's the story and the mechanics. There have already been plenty of details on the crafting and variety of character classes available for Star Wars: The Old Republic, but now the story is starting to become a little clearer.
While most casual fans have been led to believe that the Sith are basically 'evil Jedi,' the trailer reveals that those who merely seek to use the dark side of the force are in no way Sith. The Jedi and the Republic would need a far more substantial enemy for the game to be able to reach the highest levels of intensity.
It's going to take some great writing and complex villains to make The Old Republic rank among the most praised Star Wars games, at least where story is concerned. It seems that the Sith Empire is up to the task, bringing a mix of both evil and honor.
For the entire story, have a look at the trailer below. Artistic renditions of familiar Star Wars characters? Check. Illuminating look at the massive war The Old Republic will be built around? Check. Narration by Lance Henriksen? Oh, you better believe it:
According to the trailer, the real Sith are not just evil force-users, but a race unto themselves eradicated by the Republic thousands of years ago. The survivors have found a new home, and have quietly been building an empire even greater than before. One man is credited with turning his hate for the Republic into progress by forming the Imperial Military, and the familiar-shaped vessels of the Imperial Navy. That man is Odile Vaiken, the first to bear the title of 'Grand Moff' and the model of loyalty and duty to all Sith citizens.
It will be difficult for any fan of Star Wars to not get excited after seeing the wealth of mythology and drama the team is bringing to the project, lightsabers and force pushes aside. In terms of how the story will affect the game itself, one need look no further than World of Warcraft to see how much fans will buy into a good rivalry. If nothing else, this new look at the history of the Sith helps the game's first announcement trailer make a lot more sense.
Fans may have a new issue on their hands when it comes to choosing a side in this fight, since it's no longer as simple a battle as Jedi vs. The Bad Guys. This trailer shows just how much pride and strength the Sith embody, returning from the brink of extinction to go to war with the only group who match their own force powers: The Jedi.
The idea of the Jedi as partially corrupt or immoral isn't new to anyone who has picked up a Star Wars novel or two, and now it would seem that gamers will be welcomed into the same complex political struggle when The Old Republic arrives, possibly sometime next year.
BioWare clearly has big plans for The Old Republic, and it's already apparent just how good a finished product they'll need to release to even compete with World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, an absurd fact given that WoW is five years old. Hopefully, this is just a first sign of how rich and deep a story the writing team has cooked up, and it's a safe bet a fair number of fans are already aching to step into the fight. A good character is made better by a great enemy, so things are looking good for TOR.
Not to mention the influences that BioWare is bringing from their other massive projects, Mass Effect and Dragon Age. The team the player chooses to assemble is a major part of those titles, so hopefully TOR's companion characters will bring even more new gameplay to the world of MMOs. If BioWare shows the same dedication to detail and refinement that they have with those games, it could go a long way in making the MMO grind bearable.
Whether you choose to side with the Jedi in defending the Republic, or the Sith to reward their centuries of preparation with vengeance, the choice is yours when Star Wars: The Old Republic is released- hopefully- following the spring of 2011.