Review: Star Wars Galaxies: Rage of the Wookiees

by Marinda Darnell

Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) released the third installment of the MMORPG Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided series just prior to Star Wars Episode III: Return of the Sith releasing in theaters. The Rage of the Wookiees combines the ground and space game for SWG into an exciting mixture of quests, new creatures, new star ships, and new areas to explore.

Varactyl Fans of the Star Wars saga had a sneak peek at the planet of Kashyyyk two weeks prior to the theatrical release of the last installment of the Star Wars series. SOE made available the digital download version to players as a pre release, while the disc version will not be available until June for purchase. Players who purchased the digital download received a Varactyl mount that even non creature handlers can tame. The Varactyl is the mount from Episode III that Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi rides during his chase of General Grievous, and is the fastest available in the game currently.

The road to Kashyyyk is full of danger, where would be adventurers must make the jump to light speed, and hyperspace into the volatile Kashyyyk system. After dodging Rodian fire, the deceivingly tranquil planet of Kashyyyk awaits. As seen from space, Kashyyyk is a lush green planet, with only one landing port, at the capital city of Kachirho. Upon landing in Kachirho, a small star port is seen with what appears to be wreckage. This is where the ground adventure begins. The belching machinery of the Empire releases dirt, and smog into the otherwise pristine environment. Kashyyyk From Space The sound track from Episode III greets the would be adventurer and continues playing through out the entire planet. Unlike the rest of the SWG planets, Kashyyyk was designed by a Lucas Arts developer. This means the entire planet is zoned, similar to what other Lucas Arts games has. The main transition zone, Kachihro, is a very strictly regulated area. Players can not leave the designated paths and explore the country side. This is the first major flaw about ROTW. I want to be able to explore the lush setting. While I understand that the tree paths of the Rryatt Trail need to be more structure (you are walking along bridges through the canopy), the rest of the world need to be more free flowing, and explorable, which has been the trademark of SWG from the very beginning. In the very small area of the Dead Forest, this is free flowing is seen, but only for a very small section of the world.

The second major flaw is the amount of lag that occurs on this planet. I have a high end computer, and normally my ping while on Kashyyyk and packet loss do not reflect lag, the amount of server space dedicated to this planet is not enough. This is evidenced through very jerky movement, and the feeling of trying to swim through the air. Even in non peek hours, lag is extremely noticeable, even for people with their graphics turned down to a minimum. The only place where lag is at a minimum is inside the Myyydril Caverns. The Myyydril Caverns, Rryatt Trail, Etyyy Hunting Grounds, Blackscale Slaver Compound, and the Avatar Platform are all instanced regions of Kashyyyk, or Kashyyyk air space. The Great Tree is Cured Even in low peek hours, there are at least 10 instances of each area available for the player to choose from. On a smaller server like mine, this means a group of people could potentially have the entire instance to themselves. This is a great idea, and allows for possible reduction in lag, but only if the proper amount of server space is dedicated to these regions.

These two major flaws aside, as with any large publish in any online game; there are some bugs to work out, which SOE is doing a very nice job of coding quickly. Maybe if SOE would not have pushed out the combat upgrade and ROTW so quickly, and had more then a week for beta testing ROTW, some of these potentially devastating bugs would not have entered the live servers. Also due to the time crunch of Episode III entering theaters when it did, better planning on the part of the development team could have occurred where both the combat upgrade and ROTW were not released with in a week of each other. The combat upgrade basically changed the entire combat system for SWG. Some players are calling it SWG2 due to how huge the changes are. There is not a single profession that has not been affected by the changes. Myyyrdil Cavern For the last month, game play has been rife with bugs, and issues that have found the customer service flooded with thousands of CS tickets, trying to resolve issues. Over all, I believe the CU will be good for the game, once a few more of the bugs are corrected, and people finally stop complaining and attempt to try to learn the new system. The old system was majerely unbalanced, and bugged, to the point that a single person could kill, solo, the hardest creatures in the game, which should never have occurred. While this is a review of ROTW, the CU can not be ignored due to the timing of the releases.

ROTW added a lot of new content both on the ground and in space, often combining the two. The space expansion Jump to Lightspeed is required in order to access Kashyyyk and the off planet content. Luckily for subscribers and newer players, JTL is included in the digital download of ROTW. Rrrabacci Hero of Kerritamba There are hundreds of quests which combine both the ground and space game and also single quests which leads the player through out the galaxy and the world of Kashyyyk looking for clues, and solving mysteries. You can earn the trust of the Wookiees, or hunt them for the Rodians or Trandoshians. Become the Hero of Kerritamba, or a Trail Master along the Rryatt Trails. There are many different ways to immerse the most avid role players, or the casual wanderer into this beautiful world. Players have a chance to help save the Great Trees from a disease that is creating the Dead Forest, and they can find some really outstanding trinkets and weapons along the way. Explore the depths of the Myyydril Caverns, and discover its beauties and dangerous secrets, or make your way to the Avatar Platform where a unique instanced experience awaits you. The Avatar Platform is access via space only. If you are able to find a landing platform, your group is able to enter a very high level dungeon, which they have all to them selves. Some outstanding loot is available, and a great story line.

ROTW also introduced space mining, new starships, cybernetic limbs, and much much more. Over all, I would rate ROTW as a great expansion. This has added a lot of new content for both crafters and warriors alike. With all of the new quests, it will probably take a few months to completely find all of the small quirks, and experiences that are available now. Once more server space is allocated; Kashyyyk will continue to be the place to be for Wookiees and other races.

Space Mining

Special thanks to Parvati Inu for providing the screen shots from space.

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