Star Wars: The Old Republic

 
(i)

 

Learning(i)

Play as Jedi or Sith in this story-rich, combat-laden MMO.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The game has a lot of morality issues associated with the game. By acting in a certain manner, players can either earn Light Side (Jedi) or Dark Side (Sith) points. The Jedi pride themselves on peace, honor, and justice, while the Sith are devious, backstabbing, vengeful, and would rather kill than find a peaceful outcome. This means that by choosing your role in the game (Jedi or Sith), you determine what your morality is and if you are a positive role model or not.

 

Positive role models

It is up to the player to craft their characters and play them the way they wish. If you play as a Sith, players will show no mercy and kill without hesitation or risk developing a reputation for being too nice. The Jedis kill just as much, but those characters are not left with much choice and express regret that it came to violence. As you progress through the game, you will have dialogue choices that will determine how other non-playable characters will respond to you, what type of gear you can wear, or weapons you can use. Essentially, each player is their own role model.

Ease of play

There is a small learning curve, but the controls are relatively intuitive. Customization of controls and characters is available, and the learning curve mostly involves other elements of the game, such as crafting. All in all, this is an accessible game if you invest the time to learn it.

Violence

This is a game that revolves around combat, with hostile worlds attacking without provocation. Most of the violent acts are not seen directly on the screen -- there is no dismemberment or blood and bodies will disappear quickly. There is, though, a look of horror in the death masks of slain humanoids who will lay there with mouths and eyes open in shock. Players not only use lightsabers to hack at each other, but guns are also used as well as explosive devices. Those trained in the force can use shockwaves or lightning to stun and kill their enemies. One Sith quest requires the dipping of a skull in a pool of blood to spawn a quest boss monster. Space battles involve shooting missiles and lasers at other ships that, when damaged enough, will explode. When players are defeated in battle, their equipment takes damage (and will deteriorate over time anyway), but players will fall lifeless on the battlefield and can summon a medical ship to revive them.

Sex

There are comments about having sexual relations during the game's cutscenes (plot-driven pre-made movies that include created characters), with lines about having nuptial visits. As players interact with non-playable characters, dialogue choices come up and some of those can be a bit racy and flirty, even in the beginning phases of the game. Players don't have to choose those lines, but they are there.  In some of the cantinas, there are scantily-clad dancers showing cleavage. Character social costumes can run on the racy side and one of the actions available to characters is "club dance," which involves some suggestive gyrations.

Language

"Damn" and "hell" can be heard during cutscenes (the little movie pieces that drive the storyline), and the text chat has a censor on it to prohibit players from typing in stronger language. If the censor is turned off, typed chat can include much stronger language and imagery.

Consumerism

This game requires an initial purchase of the game and then a $14.99 monthly fee. While the "Star Wars" words only appear on transition screens (as players move from one area to another, which requires the computer to unload one area and load up the new area), this is a game based on a very popular license and is promoting it through this online game.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Cantinas (bars) are just about everywhere. The cantinas serve a purpose, though, and that is to allow for private conversations as well as to rest characters so that they will receive bonus experience points when questing (once players reach level 14/15, they will qualify for a spaceship that can also serve as resting quarters for characters as opposed to the cantinas.) There are also cutscenes (pre-made movies featuring your character that drive the story along) in which characters are drinking or are offered drinks.

Privacy & safety

Creates privacy and safety concerns: This is a massively multiplayer online game where players can communicate through text chat and have an option of turning off the censor. Players can progress to chat servers where the opportunity to exchange personal information is virtually unrestrained.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Star Wars: The Old Republic is a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) that requires the purchase of the game as well as a $14.95 monthly subscription fee. Players become classic characters from the Star Wars movies and not only quest and kill non-playable characters and monsters, but they can indulge in player-versus-player combat that uses weapons and magic, but no blood is shown. However, blood can be seen in a few other scenes. Players can choose to be a good and noble Jedi or play as a Sith, which means portraying an attitude that is arrogant, bullying, fear-inducing, and cruel. In addition to questing, players can also indulge in space combat and player-versus-player war zones. There is text chat between players that can become uncensored. The system requirements for the game are a bit beefy, so newer machines or older systems that have new components (RAM and video cards) are required to play the game.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading comprehension
  • storytelling
  • text analysis

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding
  • exploration
  • power structures

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • problem solving
  • solving puzzles
  • strategy
  • decision-making

Communication

  • asking questions
  • conveying messages effectively
  • friendship building

Collaboration

  • cooperation
  • respecting other viewpoints
  • teamwork

Responsibility & Ethics

  • learning from consequences
  • following codes of conduct

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Learning Approach

Support

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading comprehension
  • storytelling
  • text analysis

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding
  • exploration
  • power structures

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • problem solving
  • solving puzzles
  • strategy
  • decision-making

Communication

  • asking questions
  • conveying messages effectively
  • friendship building

Collaboration

  • cooperation
  • respecting other viewpoints
  • teamwork

Responsibility & Ethics

  • learning from consequences
  • following codes of conduct

Kids can learn about collaborating and communicating with others as they contribute to a team while exploring the sci-fi world of Star Wars: The Old Republic. This massively multiplayer online game requires kids to use reasoning to accomplish the quest-driven goals. There is a moral element to the game, where kids' decisions lead to consequences and ultimately determine whether players go to the "light" or "dark" side. Players can also create items by crafting and learn about buying and selling for profit. The Old Republic lays out quests and locations for you, which hinders your ability to feel empowered.

This Learning Rating review was written by Michael Lafferty

What's it about?

STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC takes place long before the age that formed the basis for the six movies. There are two factions, the peace-loving Jedi and the violent Sith, that are at odds and trying to control the galaxy. The player is cast into this turmoil, while retaining the choice of which side to fight for, or to tread between Light and Dark, equally. Just because a player is Jedi, though, does not mean they cannot be a Dark-Side Jedi, or a Sith can be a Light-Side Sith. The game has many fantastic worlds to explore, quests to undertake, with a different storyline for each of the four classes per faction (the factions being either the Sith or the Jedi.) Players can customize their character's looks and skills, take part in crafting, fight on the worlds or in space, and take on companions as well as join guilds to adventure with other real human players.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Star Wars: The Old Republic has bucked the story-doesn't-matter trend of MMOs by creating a game where the story matters a lot. This is one of the best, if not the best, story-driven MMO on the market. The graphics are glorious and the game bolsters its appeal with the lore and legend of the Star Wars license. While the space combat is not very good and is more arcade than anything else, the rest of the experience is well done: the crafting is intelligent, the player-versus-player battlefields are balanced for all player levels, and there is a lot to see and do. All in all, this is great fun.

Families can talk about...

Game details

Platforms:Windows
Price:$59.95
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Electronic Arts
Release date:December 20, 2011
Genre:Massively Multi-player Online Game (MMOG)
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Superheroes
ESRB rating:T for Blood and gore, mild language, sexual themes, violence (Windows)

This review of Star Wars: The Old Republic was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 8 and 11 year old Written byTh0th August 17, 2014
 
LEARNING

Begin by asking yourself whether your kids have seen the movies, then judge the game

As someone new to the MMO scene, I have been a Star Wars fan since the first film in 1977. This game builds more on the Knights of the Old Republic games that came out several years ago, only now we have the advantage of much more immersive storylines (the originals still stand as pillars to the genre), better graphics and multiplayer options. Star Wars itself has both a very black/white nature when it comes to morality, but as with anything else there are details that add to the narrative that make it more of a learning experience and understanding the characters. I basically have a few key points: 1) Violence. If your kid has never seen the prequels, never seen limbs and arms sliced off with lightsabers, this is in some cases less graphically violent than the films. There is, however, a LOT of violence in general, because the story involves both active and passive elements of a war spanning the Empire and Republic across the galaxy. Armies clash, specialists are sent in on missions with violent or peaceful outcomes, and it all depends on the multi-layered choices the player makes. You start out with 3 choices in most dialogs: Good, Neutral, and Aggressive/snarky. The choices descend from there, and you get light or dark points based on the outcome. Therefore as others have said, you can play as a dark Jedi or a Good Sith, and the outcomes are still very interesting. There are choices in encounters that involve no violence at all for a Sith, but require a Jedi to kill. So, consider that - like life - there are consequences for your choices and actions, there are many outcomes. I would also add that your relative light/dark score affects the appearance of your character and - most importantly - whether the character can use cool gear which has a light/dark score prerequisite. 2) Sex/swearing/bad habits: There were scantily-clad stripper/dancing girls in Return of the Jedi. This is the same except that there are more dance clubs. Red light districts of a sort are on almost every planet, and cantinas are a neutral zone of sorts, so you're going to get involved. One of your first missions as a Jedi is to "rescue" a despondent boyfriend's Twilek girlfriend from her dancing job, and the outcomes don't involve sex at all, but may involve her remaining an exotic dancer because it's her choice. A Jedi can force her to leave, earning dark points or allow her to decide for herself and telling the boyfriend she honestly doesn't love him anymore, earning light points. I have two boys and both saw this mission as nothing erotic or suggestive. There is a very limited amount of swearing, and many of the lounges do offer the character options to buy drinks, but these are mostly backgrounds in the scene. Drugs are involved in some missions, but involve medicines to be rationed during the war, and deciding whether to give them to injured soldiers or to widows and orphans. Again, both decisions the player has to make and both with different outcomes depending on the ROLE PLAY, and that's part of the "RP" in "RPG". If you have an imaginative child, they can run a character as a juggernaut of death or a beacon of light, and it's interesting to see how or why they do so. Watch and learn from their styles in different gameplay. I would also add that much with the movies, almost ALL kids liked the bad guys. Stores didn't sell out of Jedi costumes and toys, they sold out of everything Darth Maul/Vader-related because bad = cool. Apply the same mode of thinking to monster trucks of professional wrestling. The one thing this game does offer in terms of sexual politics is the women have as much influence as the men in the galaxy as a whole, and female characters or companions can have interesting, complex back stories that define who and why they do what they do, and how they change based on your companionship. The one thing I cringed at was the Sith "punish" ability, which let you slap a companion as a simple visual device. You earn no points for it, but the female companion will cry and turn away, but the gigantic, Jedi-eating alien with snivel and whimper like the cowardly lion. However, in other character classes you can kick enemies in the groin or backhand them across the face with your blaster/rifle as a form of attack, so again, if this type of violence - which they are apt to see in any TV show on in prime time, and in many cases TV is worse - is immediately prohibitive or offensive to a reading parent, then stop here and don't allow the game for your kids, but it's a minor issue on the whole. 3) Consumerism. This more than any other aspect of the game is your caveat emptor. It is free-to-play, but as with any other similar MMORPG, this limits how far you can advance, who you can play with and what gear you can use based on paid subscribers. The fees aren't outrageous for the basic subscription, but the Cartel Market (CM), the player's "Christmas Toy catalog", is a huge money sink (and I say this as both a parent and someone who keeps feeding the monster) because it DOES get you cool gear, outfits, vehicles and other perks. Your kid gets 500 coins with each monthly subscription rotation, which allows them to buy maybe 10% of the available items in the CM. You can buy cartel coin packs on the game website for cash, and a $40 investment gets you about 5,500 coins - enough to buy ONE big ticket item or dozens of smaller ones on the market. The big thing to learn with your child if you go down this path is the "Collections" feature, which allows you to purchase CM items for all characters on the account for a fraction of the original cost, thereby allowing your entire span of players access to the gear. Dressing a Sith as a Smuggler sounds corny, but it can work. There are many guides on YT and the various SWTOR sites (I would recommend Dulfy.net as a good starting point) on how to do this economically so you don't max out a credit card. I would also add that it teaches your child VERY quickly the value of something - if they make a rash judgment in a purchase that takes all their coins AND they equip their character with it, it's forever bound to that character until they add more coins to add the outfit to their account collection OR and this is the big economics seller for this game, they can choose NOT to use the item and sell it on the GTN - the player's auction board (Galactic Trade Network). Any player can go to these kiosks and look to see what their purchased gear is selling for across the board, can purchase gear and mods they haven't learned yet, and can earn a huge amount of in-game credits from something they paid $10 for on the CM because it's a rare drop. Again, these are all common to MMO players but it teaches your child the economics side of things. But money does make this game operate and you can spend ridiculous amounts with it. 4) Miscellaneous. I saw on here two primary issues with the game - the sexuality of the cutscenes and the safety/privacy concerns. Sexuality as indicated is a minor element, offscreen, but adults will likely catch subtle clues in the gameplay, which is actually enjoyable for them (one of the companions is a dark-side turned Jedi Padawan who just LOVES being evil - her voice acting during the romantic cutscenes is so cringingly bad that it seems like a bad soap opera); romance and intimacy is poorly-written by Lucas and Co., and it shows to some degree in-game. The other aspect are safety/privacy. Any character your child creates can join a guild if invited, and General chat is mostly full of credit/cartel coin spam with embedded links, so lock your browsers down if you need to - again, monitor their gameplay. Safety can be augmented in the Preferences | Social Menu, but it has to be toggled for every character on the child's account, so some parental involvement is recommended. My best recommendation (and to some, this may sound like a scathing review but I still love the game and recommend it as a whole) is to get involved with your child. Group missions can be a blast, and with only 4 accounts and 5,000 credits, anyone can create a guild which offers some impressive experience and credit bonuses. I play Skype with my two boys and their friend (their group audio/video chat is now free for anyone with a Skype or Microsoft account) and it's totally worth it. There are many sites out there to recommend guilds if your teen wants to join (most teens will have heard the language in Skype/vent/teamspeak - or worse - from schoolmates by that time), but I would recommend keeping the social aspect limited. Any player can play through the entire game without one bit of social play, but unless your child is insistent on planetary or class achievements, socialization is a requisite, as some can only be done with group mission completions. The gameplay and grinding can get boring, and cutscenes tend to be repetitive but you can push through all of them. Overall I found it a decent Star Wars game but pretty consistent as far as other MMOs tend to go. I've played Warcraft and Everquest in the past but not in the same degree as this game, but friends I know into MMOs at an advanced level only disliked it for the simplicity of completion and gross consumerism as I indicated above.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Easy to play/use
Too much consumerism
Safety and privacy concerns
Adult Written byTheotimus3 July 27, 2012
 

NOT FOR CHILDREN

Very inappropriate and impure aspects in dress and even gentlemens clubs. NOT FOR CHILDREN!!!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written bytrainiac12 May 11, 2014
 
LEARNING

Botched review by commonsense

First off: outdated review, as the game is now free-to-play. Second: the review does not take any heed towards the actual gameplay, and should be null. No, the sith are NOT strictly cruel, greedy, and senseless. The entire point of the sith storylines, in fact, are to prove the moral ambiguity of the star wars universe. ANYONE who has played the game should know that. You can be an evil jedi, or you can be a great sith. The choices are endless.

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