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Ready, Set, Star Wars: The Old Republic Reviews Incoming

Watch out World of Warcraft, EA and Bioware's Star Wars: The Old Republic has your storytelling savoir faire in its crosshairs.

Let's be frank: What we really wanted from BioWare wasn't a Star Wars MMO, but another single-player something-or-other, Knights of the Old Republic style. Because—and I think I speak for most here—the original Knights of the Old Republic remains BioWare's finest hour, easily the best Star Wars game yet made. Why mess that up by cramming jedis, wookies, smugglers, and sith lords into another boilerplate MMO?

Easy: 12 million players, a.k.a. World of Warcraft's peak subscribers base—subscribers playing a boilerplate MMO that costs $15 a month. Whatever that adds up to once you've subtracted 30-day trial players, the free-to-play crowd, and multi-month subscription discounts, it's still cha-ching on an unprecedented MMO revenue scale. EA wants in on that action, and Star Wars is probably the most recognizable entertainment brand in the world, absolutely dwarfing Activision Blizzard's Warcraft franchise. Ergo Star Wars: The Old Republic, which you may recall just last year was under fire by someone claiming to be an ex-BioWare employee, who called the game "a joke" and said it would be "one of the greatest failures in the history of MMOs from EA."

Sure enough, it sounds like the MMO parts are indeed very MMO-y, so if you're looking for the online roleplaying 'verse that breaks the "go kill X of Y" mold, the latter's still the predominant template here. But early impressions of the solo PvE story bits, which make up most of the launch content, are that BioWare's delivered the goods—"the goods" being a slew of KOTOR-like content.

"...Star Wars: The Old Republic is at its core eight different single-player BioWare Star Wars stories rolled up into one," writes Kotaku, rating the game a buy. "Each of the eight classes in the game has its own story that sees players traveling to the far corners of the galaxy in pursuit of their own personal adventure."

"The degree to which SWTOR's implementation of fully-voiced in-game cinematics for every quest improves player engagement cannot be overstated," writes Shacknews, celebrating the PvE perks. "I actually cared about many of the NPCs I met--a first for me in a massively-multiplayer title--due in no small part to some great voice acting. I suspect a significant number of WoW players might have a hard time going back to the text-based missions in Azeroth."

"The story is pervasive and driving, and I feel like I have a part in it," writes RPGamer of the singular class instancing. "Overall, despite the fact that I might rub shoulders with fellow Sith Warriors Darth DarthSephiroth and six Clouds on the Imperial Fleet, I still feel very much that I, and my character, are at the focus of the larger overarching story."

I've had no time to play the game for more than a few minutes myself (soon, I keep telling myself, soon). Meanwhile, BioWare just threw up a "launch documentary" called "Your Saga Begins," linked below. It's really just the design team talking about how great the game is, of course, so let's be honest and call it a "promotional spot," okay BioWare?

Find Matt on Twitter at @mattpeckham, Google+ or Facebook.

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