A New Hope?
In a move dubbed NGE or "New Game Enhancements" SOE / LucasArts re-launched its ailing MMORPG Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) for the second time last November. Despite a wave of angry criticism from the alternately hopeful and disillusioned subscriber community, both licensor and licensee maintain that subscription numbers have steadily risen since the change.
We tell the somber story of the MMORPG that was supposed to bring our brand of gaming into the mainstream two years ago, then lighten things up a bit with a review of the game as it stands today.
When we arrived at the neutral station, the nastiest surprise was lag, lots of lag. My rig handles today's graphics-intensive games with ease, but for SWG I had to viciously scale back settings before the frame rate got above a barely playable 10 / sec. Even afterwards, the game seemed to move faster than it could load. The elevators jerk you down or up a level in a split-second (literally - they put the "hyper" in hyperlift), but you'll go tear-assing into the cantina (characters seem to move at something like 200% movement speed all the time) and you'll have to wait a few seconds for the NPCs to appear.
After trying out several character models I've noticed an unsettling "slippery floor" quirk, resulting from the character's gait being unnaturally faster than the actual movement rate. Another painful tendancy: the dialog boxes which appear when you converse with NPCs actually move with their (sometimes spasmodic) gestures. When I talk to an NPC, I sometimes feel like I'm trying to shoot Bin Laden in one of those "Win a PS3!" banner ads.
In the end, SWG received a doleful 2 out of 5 hammers. But have a look for yourself: the Star Wars Galaxies "New Game Enhancements" review at TenTonHammer!