Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided Review
I've wanted to review this game publicly for the longest time now, and I feel almost honored to be able to do it here. So just to make it better for me, I'm going to start by going into detail about the things the game seems to do right. Then I'll tell you why those just cannot save this game from being poorly planned, poorly developed, and then brought into the market.
One of the few things I really did enjoy about this game was player housing. That feature is so rare in MMORPGs today, but Star Wars Galaxies (SWG from here on in) carried out well. While it was pretty costly, each player could choose to buy a small, medium, or large house. These houses could be used for any number of things.
You could make it your home, and fill it with furniture (which, might I add, was implemented well with a large number of furniture items to choose from), or you could go out on a limb and do other things. On the server I used to play on, there was a zoo in a large house. I once opened up a small house, stuck a vendor in it, decorated it like a McDonald's, and called it McBothan's. The things you could do with player housing were really enormous.
Another thing they got right was player cities. If you had enough money and enough people to go along with it, you could buy a city hall, medical port, and a cantina and have at it. Some of these cities got truly massive, and had their own place on the world map for whatever planet they were on. While these were mostly used for powerful guilds, some were just communities where anyone could join and have a good time at the cantina at night.
Going along with that screenshot, they also got the factions very well. You could either join the Rebellion or the Empire, depending on what cause you felt sympathetic for. But you knew regardless of what you chose that there would be more than enough perks to satisfy you. They even had outposts to eac faction. On Tatooine, for example, the town Anchorhead was a Rebel city for a while. And when you killed a member of the opposing faction, you got faction points and higher rankings to show off what you've done.
The sound is also fairly well done. The music is straight from the movies, and changes when you get into battle. When you're trekking across Dantooine and the fanfare starts playing, it really feels epic.
That, however, is right about where the game stops being good. The rest of it is pretty much flawed. And that's being generous to it.
The controls in the game are horribly lacking. The only thing you really have a choice to do is to spam several actions at once and let them play out. The battles aren't engaging at all - rather, they're just something you have to do, like a chore. I can clearly remember walking up to an enemy, clicking it, then spamming F5 repeatedly. That was a normal battle for me. Oh, and I forgot, I would occasionally run around.
The servers just weren't hardy enough to handle the massive amount of people that played. You would go into a main town on a planet, walk outside the airport and you would freeze simply because there were too many people. It seemed like if more than 30 people were in an area, it would be impossible to get through because of lag
Speaking of massive amounts of people, the communication in SWG was poorly done, too. Unlike in Guild Wars, where there are separate channels, so if the trade channel gets busy you can turn it off, there are only a few channels in SWG, and people spam all but the guild channel. You can't avoid the constant spamming of trades in big cities, and after a while it just gets really, really annoying.
The collision sensors have a lot of problems, especially in the earlier versions of the game. You could just ride your landspeeder right through a tree or a rock, or even sometimes get stuck in a building. If you happened to be unlucky enough to get stuck, you would have to wait and get the attention of a GM, which usually took at least half an hour or more of just sitting there.
Quests were a huge problem. If you ever found a decent quest, it seemed to give too small of a reward to matter. The only ones that paid well were the ones that you just could not get to in less than an hour (not including the actual fighting, just getting there then back is what I'm talking about), and were always surrounded by people who wanted the same thing as you. This made for very few successful quests and an awfully large amount of grinding for XP.
The profession system was also very flawed. Not only were they ridiculously unbalanced damage-wise, but some were a breeze to go through, while some could take several months of straight playing to get anywhere (Bounty Hunter being a good example). I can remember distinctly that at one point Rifleman was the most popular profession because it was completely dominant. It out-damaged the other classes by ridiculous amounts. And whenever that happened to any class, the SOE team nerfed (downgraded severely) it, which exposed another profession as dominant. They could just never balance it out.
But possibly the biggest flaw, and in the same vein as the professions, was the Jedi. At first, it was almost impossible to get to. It took about a year, if I remember right, for the first Jedi to pop up. And even when you got there, you had to constantly kill something or you would lose your Jedi ranking. So, naturally, people complained about the system. Then SOE made the stupid, stupid mistake of allowing Jedi to be a selectable profession. This flooded the world with Jedi and made them seem too commonplace, ruining what Jedi should be. That was one thing they really could never figure out how to balance.
So yeah, I have a huge grievance against this game. For the monthly fee, it was just not worth it. The cons outweighed the pros. It wasn't fun anymore. I have to give it to SOE and LucasArts for trying, but next time they need to try harder.