Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided Review
A short while after the game's release, there's a lot of breadth to Star Wars Galaxies, but there isn't a lot of depth.
Though massively multiplayer online role-playing games have been around for years, none to date have been as highly anticipated as Star Wars Galaxies. The excitement over the game was for fairly obvious reasons: The Star Wars universe seemed like it would be the perfect setting for such a game, and Star Wars Galaxies promised to be more than just EverQuest in space--it wouldn't be yet another online RPG where the gameplay revolved almost exclusively around killing monsters and gaining levels, but would instead offer numerous interesting non-combat-oriented player professions. At any rate, Galaxies is finally here, and it's not the life-changing event that some prospective players convinced themselves it would be. It actually fits squarely into the mold of numerous other games of this type, only it looks better, features authentic Star Wars creatures and characters, and has a number of interface enhancements not found in previous online RPGs. In the wake of the game's release, a number of key features are still in development (namely, player-driven cities, mounts, and vehicles), and the existing game content isn't all that much different or better than what's available in other, similar games. Then again, Star Wars Galaxies does have Star Wars going for it.
Star Wars Galaxies lets you create a character by choosing from male or female versions of eight different Star Wars races, including humans and wookiees, as well as the fish-faced mon calamari, the bug-eyed rodians, and more. Typically, your choice of race affects your character's proficiencies--for example, wookiees are very strong, while mon calamari are smarter than average--but in practice, your choice of race is mostly superficial. When creating your character, you have a lot of control over the shape of his or her face, and you can also adjust his or her body type, so you can make a rather distinctive-looking character--and that's a big part of Star Wars Galaxies' appeal. The game prevents you from naming your character after anyone from the Star Wars canon, though you should still expect to see many in-game wookiees with names played off Chewbacca and in-game rodians with names played off Greedo, and so forth.
The most important part of the character creation process is choosing your starting profession, which is basically your character class. The selection includes the artisan, the brawler, the entertainer, the marksman, the medic, and the scout. The brawler and the marksman are traditional combat-oriented classes, focusing on melee and ranged combat, respectively. The medic and the entertainer are functionally equivalent to healers. The artisan's job revolves around crafting various objects, from weapons to furniture, and the scout is a sort of adventurer/explorer capable of building traps, setting up camp, and extracting resources from slain creatures.
These initial professions determine the core skills you'll have at your disposal (though you may opt to learn other professions' novice skills as well, if you wish). You then grow your character not by gaining generic experience points like in other games, but primarily by gaining experience in whichever skills are most important to your character by using those specific skills repeatedly. For example, if a brawler fights unarmed, he or she will gain experience in unarmed combat. The starting professions actually branch off into more than 20 different advanced professions, which become available after you master any of the skill paths of the starting profession. So, when that brawler gains four ranks in unarmed combat, he or she may then qualify to become a Teräs Käsi artist--the Star Wars equivalent of a martial artist. Theoretically, then, there are multiple viable paths for every starting profession. However, while the early going is relatively brisk for all the professions, as you gain skill ranks, your advancement will slow to a crawl. You can expect to spend many dozens of hours repeating the same types of actions over and over before you can reach the advanced classes, especially the advanced hybrid classes, which require mastery of several professions' core skills.
Star Wars Galaxies was designed to make all the starting professions essential to the game, basically because brawlers, marksmen, and scouts--the obvious starting choices for many players--need medics, entertainers, and artisans to heal them and make them better weapons and armor. None of the professions is entirely self-sufficient, so this forces players to interact. The system of gaining experience in the specific skill you're using also makes a lot of sense--in other games, a character who wishes to become a master craftsman might still need to go out of his or her way to kill a bunch of monsters, whereas here, artisans, entertainers, and medics can ply their trades and improve their skills far from danger.
The problem is these non-combat-oriented classes can be really quite boring to play, particularly the entertainer and the medic. For example, an entertainer's purpose in Star Wars Galaxies is to cure fighting classes of their battle fatigue and their mental weariness, which are essentially gameplay contrivances that force characters to head back to town after they've been out fighting for a while. Entertainers do this literally by breaking into song or dance at a cantina or a theater. The character begins dancing or playing a musical instrument, and the player may perform various flourishes that cost stamina but give you a bit more experience. The entertainer gains experience faster if more people are actively watching or listening to him or her.
- Player Reviews: 322
- Game Universe:
- Star Wars Episode I: Racer (GBC, N64, DC, MAC),
- Star Wars: Yoda Stories (PC, GBC),
- Star Wars: Demolition (DC, PS),
- Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (PC, GC, XBOX, MAC),
- Star Wars: Starfighter (PC, PS2),
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC, XBOX, MAC),
- Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter (PS2, XBOX),
- Star Wars: Bounty Hunter (PS2, GC),
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars (GC, PS2, XBOX),
- Star Wars Galaxies (PS2, XBOX)
- Online Modes:
- Number of Players: