When Star Wars: The Old Republic was first announced, we had nightmarish visions of roughly textured Jedi hopping down long roads and naked dancing on top of the town's holocon email box. It was then, that we decided we needed to roll a character to combat the masses, someone with the mettle and might to stop the horde of blue saber-wielding do-gooders out to make the galaxy a better place. We needed a bounty hunter %26ndash; and last week we got one for eight hours.
To help chronicle your adventures, the game begins with a Star Wars style text crawl that catches you up on your character's story as you progress through the main plotline. The yellow text tells us we're on the planet Hutta, setting the stage for our new bounty hunter's first step into the world. It's a small detail, but the text crawl intro makes for a pretty epic welcome every time you login.
After the text crawl, we move on to introductions. You're a bounty hunter %26ndash; and a pretty badass one at that. Braden is the closest thing you've got to a friend; he's an experienced bounty hunter who's lived long enough to retire and has taken you under his wing. As part of his plan to get your career off the ground, Braden suggests you enter the Great Hunt to make a name for yourself. There's also Mako, your tech savvy team member who will later join you as a companion.
Above: Hutta is the starting planet for new bounty hunters and Imperial agents. The majority of your first eight hours will be spent questing in order to gain a sponsor for the Great Hunt
The Mandalorian competition was mentioned in Knights of the Old Republic, but in The Old Republic, the Great Hunt seems more like an event for Hutt lords to show off their might by sponsoring the strongest guns for hire. As an up and coming bounty hunter and future Jedi killer, entering the Great Hunt seems like a no brainer. But you'll need a sponsorship, and securing a ticket to the tournament will send you on a questing spree through the damp marshes of Hutta.
BioWare is billing The Old Republic as the first "fully voiced MMO," and it's worth mentioning that the large helpings of voice acting really do make a difference. As with KotOR, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age, you'll get a nice spread of responses to choose from during conversations with other characters ranging in tone from chivalrous to villainous - with all the shades of sarcasm and snark between the two extremes.
It feels too cheesy to say that voice acting will make you "care more" about the game's characters or feel "more immersed" in its world. But the healthy amount of voiced dialogue does give NPCs more of a stage presence in-game, the kind you're used to seeing in a good single player RPG, but never in an MMO.