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Taking a Walk on the Dark Side

I was lucky enough to be one of the thousands invited in as “weekenders” for the last weekend beta of Star Wars:The Old Republic before it’s retail release on December 20th. If you have somehow been living under a digital rock the past year or so, The Old Republic is a new MMORPG set in Star Wars’ Old Republic era. Designed and built by BioWare, who are responsible for the blockbuster Knights of the Old Republic series. Set during the time of the Galactic Republic and the uprising of the Sith Empire and the Sith War. I am not a huge Star Wars fanboy, I wish that someone else on the site was able to take part in this, but alas, as I am technically unemployed, the burden fell on me. Since my computer set up and internet connection are not optimal I think this will be a good look at what this game will be like for a lot of people that love Star Wars and want to play it, but don’t fall into the hardcore gamer crowd. I was only able to reach level 13 with the time I had so this will be pretty brief.

I received the email with my beta invite on Wednesday the 22nd of November. Unfortunately, the site was down so I wasn’t able to accept it for a few hours and start downloading the client. Once the site did come back up, and trust me, I was checking every 15 minutes, I was instructed to download the client. This is where sadness started to set in. I haven’t owned a PC in something like 5-6 years. I switched to Apple when I decided to go to art school because that’s what everyone recommended and without getting into that debate, it was a life changing switch for me. Luckily for me though, I had just installed VMware Fusion with a copy of Windows 7 to play League of Legends with some friends. So I switch over to my virtual machine and follow the links and download the installer/patcher. Remember, this is on Wednesday. My internet connection is not the greatest thing in the world. It’s far from it, actually. I usually top out on downloads at about 120KB/s. So I’m getting out just above twice that of dial-up, but hey, it’s $13 a month and I’m unemployed, so beggars can’t be choosers. I’m telling you this to warn you, if you go the digital download road, if your connection is not blazing fast, it’s going to take AWHILE. Even with a standard DSL or cable connection I’d set up the download and then go play Skyrim or something for awhile. This was a beta build, even this close, there’s still stuff they’ll need to package into the final, and it was around 20GB. Making this worse my connection kept dropping out completely every once in a while so it took even longer. I got another email telling me that my testing time was to start Saturday the 26th at 10AM Central time. Hoping that I could make it, I willed my connection to go faster, to no avail. Saturday night showed the download to the last 500MB and much joy in my heart. I went to bed with dreams of lightsabers and force chokes dancing in my head. Sunday morning was like geek Christmas at my house as I typed in my login info and hit the bright orange glowing PLAY button.

This is what greets you after the loading screen.

Anyone who has looked up anything on SWTOR has probably already seen that video. It was one of the first big releases. It does a pretty good job of capturing the feel and tone of the game and sets up in your mind what to expect. After the movie plays you have to make your first decision, Republic or Empire? Light Side or Dark Side? I at first toyed with the creation of a female Twi’lek Jedi Knight, but I was having computer issues and had to re-start and this second time through decided to go Dark Side and follow through with it. Red lightsabers are cooler anyways, and I get to wear black all the time. So I clicked the giant Empire symbol and we are off to character creation. You may choose from one of 4 classes on each side, for the Dark Side there is Bounty Hunter, Imperial Agent, Sith Warrior, and Sith Inquisitor. It was a toss up for me between Warrior and Inquisitor. The warrior class eventually gets to dual wield lightsabers, and is a DPS monster, while as the Inquisitor gets the now iconic double bladed lightsaber and force lightning. My love for Darth maul not withstanding, my love for Asajj Ventress won out and I decided that two light sabers are always better than one, no matter how big it may be. So Sith Warrior it is, now to move onto race. I chose a human because why not? There are quite a few customization options to choose from in each race to set your character apart right from the beginning. Blizzard, take notes, hair, eye and skin color and styles, as well as scars and complexion are things that can be changed. This is a very good thing as I will explain later. Now that my character is taken care of I just had to choose a name and hit next.

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