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Star Wars: The Old Republic – Fully Operational

Any attack made by the Rebels against Mike would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they've obtained.

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It’s been far too long since I last wrote about my exploits in The Old Republic. So much has changed. The first content patch is coming soon, bringing with it a separate bracket for level 50 PvPers and tweaks to crew skills and Flashpoints. I absolutely love being a part of an MMO in its early stages. There are so many nuances to a player base vs. a developer’s idea of how aspects of the game should work.

Over the years, I played a good variety of MMORPGs. It’s funny to me the little changes a game can make that make it stand out and become enjoyable. This is one of the first games that has no macros. I like that. I actually like that a lot. The Companion affection system gives you the option to become invested in another character’s storyline and possibly open up new quests.

Crafting allows you to break down green quality items for a chance to learn the schematic for an upgraded blue quality version of itself. You can then break down the blue quality items for a chance to learn an even better upgrade. It’s a completionist's dream and nightmare wrapped all into one. Sure, you can just do the basics and power level as you go along, but then you miss out on tiny increases in your stats. No thank you. Have I mention I started a new character?

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed playing the overweight Trooper on the Death Wind Corridor server. That character was the epitome of a goody two-shoes who flirts with everything. I can relate to that. I was Buzz Lightyear with a libido. Circumstances, however, forced me to start from scratch on a new server called the Deadweight, but this time, as a member of the Sith Empire.

Looking through the classes, I settled on the Imperial Agent. If I was going to try to experience all the game has to offer, I might as well check out the opposite end of the spectrum. The Agent isn’t unassuming like the Trooper. He’s a pompous know-it-all, who also flirts with everything. He’s ruthless and calculating, and most importantly, completely self serving. It scares me how easily I can change.

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There is a certain satisfaction from playing the villain that is hard to explain. I guess it comes down to power and the lack of responsibility. The first companion you obtain starts out as a heartless bitch, but follows your commands. Your spaceship is the love child of a passionate drunken evening between a McLaren F1, SR-71 Blackbird and Great White Shark. It’s the Cadillac of The Old Republic spaceships. Everywhere you go, you’re handed the best technology and intelligence. It’s all quite invigorating having come from the humble story and amenities given to the Trooper.

The plot itself is taking a little while to develop. I’ve heard from multiple people, including the lead writer for the game, that the Agent storyline is one of the best kept secrets of The Old Republic. Where as the Trooper story was all about betrayal and justice, the Agent seems to have some seedy conspiracy that is slowly being unraveled. There is tension, but I’m not the one driving it.

I’ve spent over 50 hours and 30 levels with this character. Much of that time was a healthy mix of space battles, questing, PvP and crafting while AFK. Speaking of crafting, I nearly bankrupt myself with overzealous and careless crew missions. If not for a guildmate with a bankroll, I wouldn’t have a speeder mount.

PvP Warzones and Flashpoints are very enjoyable with this class. As an Operative, with my talent points spent in the Concealment tree, I use stealth and melee attacks to do most of my damage. I can sneak around and use crowd control on mobs for group PvE, or I can use the same abilities on a player to capture a control point in a Warzone while other players are distracted with fighting.

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The Operative advanced class performs well in combat as well. As I said before, most of the damage is done in melee range, but it’s not always the best idea to stay there for long. If you are attacked by 2 or more decent players without your defensive cooldowns, you’re most likely going to die. That’s really the case with all of the classes, so I don’t understand the griping about some perceived imbalance. I love the control, but it’s at the cost of a little damage output. A free-casting, ranged class can still take huge chunks out of my health pool before I reach them.

A few weeks in and I’m still having a blast. There’s no rush to level 50 for me. There’s too much to do and too much to see. Leveling right in the middle of the pack suits me just fine. By the time I hit the maximum level, maybe people will actually be crafting entry level raid gear and at a reasonable price. The level 50 PvP bracket will be established and, with luck, the developers will have the situation on Ilum all figured out.