PC

Old, New, Borrowed, Twi’lek Blue? Star Wars: The Old Republic announced

In what seems to have been the internet’s laziestly kept secret after the new Macbook Pros, cornerstones of spacey RPG-ness Bioware and their new EA overlords have officially announced the long-rumoured-and-secretly-suspected Knights of the Old Republic MMO, now officially called Star Wars : The Old Republic.

In Star Wars: The Old Republic, players will explore an age thousands of years before the rise of Darth Vader when war between the Old Republic and the Sith Empire divides the galaxy. Players can choose to play as Jedi, Sith, or a variety of other classic Star Wars roles, defining their personal story and determining their path down the light or dark side of the Force.

More PR-speak & analysis after the jump

The full release –

LUCASARTS AND BIOWARE REVEAL STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC

OCTOBER 21, SAN FRANCISCO – LucasArts and BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), today announced the development of Star Wars®: The Old Republic™, a story-driven massively multiplayer online PC game set in the timeframe of the Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic™ franchise. Star Wars: The Old Republic, being developed and published by BioWare and LucasArts, represents an innovative approach to interactive entertainment, featuring immersive storytelling, dynamic combat and intelligent companion characters.

In Star Wars: The Old Republic, players will explore an age thousands of years before the rise of Darth Vader when war between the Old Republic and the Sith Empire divides the galaxy. Players can choose to play as Jedi, Sith, or a variety of other classic Star Wars roles, defining their personal story and determining their path down the light or dark side of the Force. Along the way, players will befriend courageous companions who will fight at their side or possibly betray them, based on the players’ actions. Players can also choose to team up with friends to battle enemies and overcome incredible challenges using dynamic Star Wars combat.

“Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the most critically acclaimed Star Wars game in LucasArts history and a preeminent example of our company’s interactive storytelling heritage,” said Darrell Rodriguez, President of LucasArts. “For a long time, we’ve long wanted to return to the franchise in a grand way, and we felt that the best setting for it was an online world that would allow millions of people to participate in the experience together. We knew that the developer capable of working with us to deliver an engrossing story with a fully-realized online world was BioWare.”

“Traditionally, massively multiplayer online games have been about three basic gameplay pillars – combat, exploration and character progression,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Co-Founder and General Manager/CEO of BioWare and General Manager/Vice President of Electronic Arts Inc., “In Star Wars: The Old Republic, we’re fusing BioWare’s heritage of critically-acclaimed storytelling with the amazing pedigree of Lucasfilm and LucasArts, and adding a brand-new fourth pillar to the equation – story. At the same time, we will still deliver all the fun features and activities that fans have come to expect in a AAA massively multiplayer online game. To top it all off, Star Wars: The Old Republic is set in a very exciting, dynamic period in the Star Wars universe.”

Added Dr. Greg Zeschuk, Co-Founder and Vice President Development Operations, BioWare and Vice President, Electronic Arts Inc., “Star Wars: The Old Republic is set roughly 300 years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic, a timeframe that is completely unexplored in the lore. BioWare has been able to add to the Star Wars history in developing the game’s story and has created an overarching narrative that players can enjoy, regardless of their play style. Our goal is to offer players an emotionally rewarding experience that combines the traditional elements of MMO gameplay with innovations in story and character development.”

Additional details on Star Wars: The Old Republic features, gameplay and release date will be announced at a later time. For more information about Star Wars: The Old Republic and to sign up for future product updates, please visit www.StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com.

Obviously, fresh from the success off-the-starting-blocks of Warhammer Online, EA are all too happy to settle down into their MMO slippers and watch as the galactic credits fill their Corelian bank accounts.  Bioware (and Obsidian, not forgetting the little guys) haven’t done too badly out of the KOTOR license, nicely crowbarring it into SW canon without getting tied up by the rules and regulations of the Expanded Universe.

What remains to see is how they handle the game itself.  The last attempt at virtually monetising the Star Wars license, Galaxies, was highly criticised for its terrible content pacing, poor decisions on the behalf of SOE & Lucasarts and the cheapening of the Jedi experience by giving everyone the chance to wave their laser sword around after everyone complained it was too hard to attain – I bet Luke Skywalker was FUMING when he found out he just had to press a button.

Here’s hoping EA & Bioware consider what separates the Star Wars universe from the also-rans (namely the experience, the back story and characterisation) and don’t just use it as another excuse to print money – they’ve got Warhammer Online for that now 🙂

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