Here is a perfect example of why Star Wars Galaxies has failed to become the best MMO ever made. Jump To Lightspeed is the expansion that we were supposedly all waiting for, finally adding the much-missed space combat element to a Star Wars universe that has so far been surprisingly lacking in thrills.
Anyway, having opted to train up with the Rebel faction and worked my way up to piloting a Y-Wing above the skies of Tatooine, I found myself being invited to team up with a fellow pilot. Except he was following the Imperial route and flying a TIE Fighter. Undeterred, we grouped together and headed off to find some easy kills. And so there we were, Imperial and Rebel pilot flying side by side, blowing up wandering pirates, Rebel transports and Imperial patrols together with nary a care in the world. Not exactly true to the source material.
But that's been the problem with SWG since day one. On paper the idea of a massively multiplayer RPG set in the world of Han Solo, Boba Fett, Darth Vader, X-Wings and Jedi would be the best thing ever. Unfortunately the game has never lived up to this promise - it's been a flawed experiment from the get-go.
As a generic sci-fi MMOG, there's nothing wrong with it. But because it's tied to a
franchise that just about everyone in the world (by my last count) is intimately familiar with - and one that's already been exhaustively archived by a legion of fans - the smallest error stands out like a Wookiee in a cantina. And when the game mechanics force it to make compromises that simply don't fit with the source material (such as my experience above), it just looks hopelessly flawed.
Jump To Lightspeed was supposed to go some way towards rectifying this problem (rumour has even suggested it's Sony's last chance to get the game right before LucasArts steps in and takes it away for major rebuilding), and while there's an undeniable thrill the first time a TIE Fighter screams past your cockpit making all the right noises, it soon becomes apparent that it's little more than the ground game all over again but with a twitch game mechanic bolted onto the front.
Where It Counts
Annoyingly this isn't actually that bad a thing. Structurally it's sound, and it ties into the existing ground game perfectly well, introducing four new career paths, adding two new species and providing an effort-to-reward ratio that's actually a little higher than you get on the ground. But it ISN'T Star Wars and therein lies the problem.
It certainly does its best to maintain the illusion. Being able to wander around inside ships (like the Millennium Falcon variant - the YT-1300), man turrets, customise ships, utilise droids and so on all try hard to convince us that this is the Star Wars we know and love. But it all feels incredibly forced (no pun intended).
Bottom line is that Jump To Lightspeed is not an essential addition to SWG, and by no means repairs the many faults of the existing game. But it's certainly not a bad expansion if you're already committed to the world and are looking for a little more variety. What it isn't is X-Wing Vs TIE Fighter Online. More's the pity.
The Force is middling in this one
- Fly X-Wings, TIE Fighters and the Millennium Falcon
- Meshes with the ground game perfectly
- Twitch gameplay merges with RPG skills without fault
- New races
- Still doesn't convince us it's Star Wars
- Not essential