When I first played Star Wars: The Old Republic in beta a few months before the games release, I came away less than impressed. After quitting World of Warcraft years ago due to suffering from severe boredom, I was hoping that Old Republic would be a breath of fresh air. What I got instead was a fairly standard MMO, with boring combat, terrible race selection, and lots of talking. Needless to say I didn't buy the game at launch, and haven't played the game since.

Old Republic enjoyed a ton of out of the gate success, as many MMOs tend to do. But as time progressed, more and more players began to leave. Many cited poor player versus player. Others complained about the lack of satisfying end game content. Some just returned to other MMO's such as WoW, though that game has also seen a decline of millions of players. Then something that is almost becoming expected happened, Bioware announced that Old Republic would be going completely free to play. 

Now I'm not sure why this sparked my interest in a game I considered to be done with. Maybe I was just bored. Or maybe now that the game was free I was compelled to play the game that originally I didn't think to be worth $15 a month. Whatever the reason, I decided to play the free trial up to level 15 and decide whether or not I would continue to play the game when it launches as a full free to play MMO this fall. What I found is while it's not the best game ever, Old Republic does do many things right and actually helps cure the boredom I found myself suffering from while playing WoW, doing one thing in particular incredibly well - delivering a sense of player importance. 

Bioware pushed Old Republic as a story focused game, and in that department it succeeded. Every character in the game has a voice and personality, and the world lives and breathes like few other MMO worlds. However, what really hooked me was more than just the voice overs and the above average MMO storytelling. I felt important. I felt like a Jedi, and everything I did felt like something a Jedi would do. I wasn't killing boars for their tusks or helping farmer Joe scare away crows. I wasn't picking flowers or gathering wood. I was stopping a rogue Jedi from bringing down the Jedi Temple. I was aiding refugees surrounded on all sides by encroaching natives fueled by the dark side. Everything I did felt in character, felt important, and made me want to keep playing.

Perhaps I was too hard on Old Republic the first time around. As a huge Star Wars fanboy I was, and still am, upset about the terrible selection of races from which I could choose to live out my Star Wars fantasy. You are telling me that in the Star Wars universe, featuring hundreds of great alien races to choose from, as a Jedi I can only be a human, a green human, a human with little horns on my head, or a blind human? Oh, and Twilieks. So one out of five that is an actual alien race. Sith don't have it much better. What about Rodians? Wookies? Mon Calamari? All the races are in the game, I meet NPC's every five feet that are some of the franchises iconic alien species. But for some reason I can't be any of them. The combat has grown on me some. While fairly standard, it has begun to impress me with it's visual style if nothing else. It's more entertaining to watch my Jedi deflect blaster bolts and pull of visually striking ligthsaber flourishes than it is to auto attack boars on WoW.

Now I can't say how the full game is having only played to level 15, but if it is like the first 15 levels I will be signing up when the game goes free to play later this fall. Sadly, once you hit level 50 and your character classes main storyline, I feel like I will once again lose interest. I guess that's just when you reroll as a new class and experience an all new story. If you're looking for an MMO to get into, or find yourself to be more of a single player game, give Old Republic a shot. You might just enjoy being the most important character in the Star Wars universe.