Bioware said it's adding a free-to-play (F2P) option to its online game Star Wars: The Old Republic this fall. The F2P option will give players access to each of the eight Star Wars character class storylines, which they can grind up to level 50. Bioware's pro bono mode will also include unlimited game access and new higher-level game content and features made available through individual purchases or via a subscription.
OUR SHEPARD LOOKS like hell. He’s got shadows under his eyes that’d frighten the seediest of back‑alley dwellers. Even when he smiles—for instance, while warmly embracing an old friend—there’s a palpable weariness to the gesture. This man, this hero we’ve piloted through countless near-apocalyptic trials and tribulations, is at the end of his rope. The Reapers have decided that all organic life is ripe for the picking, and Earth’s looking mighty juicy. Shepard’s got the weight of the entire universe on his shoulders, and little by little, every agonized step forward breaks his back a bit more.
After playing through Mass Effect 3, we look a lot like our Shepard, but for different reasons. We clearly haven’t slept, and basic hygiene has become so foreign a concept that we reply to the word “shower” with, “Yeah, it’s about 4:27 p.m.” Mass Effect 3, you see, is one of those experiences. By no means is it perfect, but it’s a tale so gripping as to have its own gravitational pull. It's Shepard’s darkest hour, and we had no intention of seeing the sun until its credits roll.
A fabulous single-player experience in a massively multiplayer online game
STAR WARS: The Old Republic (TOR) comes with a buffet of a story for an MMO, but you only get to fill your plate once. From decisions as significant as choosing your character’s class specialization to events as trivial as responding to key dialog options, everything you do has a lasting and permanent effect on your gameplay. We like the feast: BioWare’s masterful use of instanced environments creates more captivating gameplay for the solo quester than most any other MMO.
But this is BioWare’s first foray into the massively multiplayer world, and it shows. TOR is more a role-playing game you play alongside 999,999 friends than a true MMO. BioWare either poorly integrates or completely misses the mark on many of the elements that define an MMO. On the upside, the beautiful blend of voice acting and dialogue options in each of TOR’s many quests should earn the game a celebratory parade through the Yavin 4 throne room. And while the scripted quests (occasionally punctuated by John Williams’s familiar score) are immersive, they make the rest of the game’s environments seem stale by comparison. TOR’s non-instanced “generic” areas just aren’t very player-interactive. The Nar Shadda casino, a cold and lifeless location that cries out for mini-games and interactivity, is just one example. And don’t get us started on TOR’s cantina music.
Stuck all alone in Mobile while your family gets together in Memphis this holiday weekend? Don't get mopey -- if it's up to EA and BioWare, you won't be flying (Han) solo this weekend. The companies hope to entice hesitant gamers to the dark side with a free helping of Star Wars: The Old Republic. The doors are wide open until the end of the day Sunday!
Dragon Age II is officially done. Well, OK, the game proper has been finished for a year, but now BioWare's closed up shop on its DLC factory in favor of bigger (and hopefully better) things. The developer is fully aware, however, that Origins is far-and-away the favorite child in its dysfunctional fantasy family, and it's aiming to right the sequel's unfortunately numerous list of wrongs. So, where to begin? Why, with you, of course – assuming you A) played Dragon Age II and B) are capable of forming opinions.
Be still, our pulsating nostalgia glands. Could there finally be another... ? No. No. We won't get our hopes up. Even if, you know, Beamdog – a company fronted by former BioWare designer Trent Oster – has commandeered BaldursGate.com and given the whole thing a tease-tacular modern makeover. And even though Oster definitely said, “We’re not related to the Steam complete edition, I can tell you that much. Other than that, we’re hoping to announce something soon.” And even though the site's source code has skipped its way to a masterful breadcrumb trail of hints, including references to the Infinity Engine and the “Child of Bhaal.” Nope. We refuse to get excited. We won't be hurt again. We... yeah, screw it. This looks damn promising. Oops, we jinxed it. Now it's going to be a Kinect-compatible Facebook dance minigame collection or something.
So, apparently quite a few of you have been following Mass Effect 3 with lustful eyes full of sin. You would do nasty, nasty things to it, is what we're saying – for instance, you might put it in a dress so revealing that you could see entire inches above its ankles. Scandalous! For those who absolutely can't keep their cloud-bound heads out of the space gutter, though, we've got a little something to ease your pain. And by “little,” we mean a whole hour of spoilerific gameplay footage. Granted, it's from the soon-to-be-released Mass Effect 3 demo, so you needn't worry about being catapulted straight to Shepard's revelation that all the Reapers really wanted was a hug and other creature comforts that arise from not being a giant goddamn spaceship. Check out the full thing after the break.
In space, no one can hear you scream. Or squeak or squawk or make any sort of sound, for that matter. But man, even space has to make exceptions in cases of exemplary wonderfulness. Example A: Martin Sheen's intoxicating rasp. And hey, look! Seth Green. He, too, is saying things. And, of course, Jennifer Hale's reprising her role as The One True Shep. So that's all well and good and... wait. Freddie Prinze Jr's playing a burly soldier man party member? And Jessica “I licked a PSP and then became an IGN host and am failing to take advantage of the fact that my last name looks a lot like 'robot'” Chobot's in the game? How? Why? We demand explanation! Or a brief appearance by Keith David as Admiral Anderson to make everything all better again. Check out the full and extremely emotionally confusing trailer after the break.
Normally, Valentine's Day provides folks with two options: 1) Gorge yourself on chocolate and somebody else's face, or 2) weep bitterly as everyone else gorges themselves on chocolate and other people's faces. This year, however, you'll have a third avenue for holiday merriment: saving all life as we know it from total annihilation. Or at least, foiling a nefarious Reaper plot or two, via Mass Effect 3's long-awaited demo. According to BioWare, the tantalizing teaser will give players a peek at “the all-out galactic war against an ancient alien race known as the Reapers from multiple fronts, including the mind-blowing opening attack on Earth that kicks off the single-player campaign.” Co-op's in the mix as well, so this is looking like quite the heavyweight as far as demos go. Massive, one might even say. Effectively so. And then, in a just world, they'd hurl themselves out the airlock shortly after.