Star Wars: The Old Republic Preview

GameZone has slapped up a hands-on preview of Star Wars: The Old Republic based on what was seen during the same press event that many other websites recently participated in.  Thankfully, it's much more favorable than that Bit-tech piece we linked to over the weekend, though they do still voice a few gripes:
I'll discuss the PvP element of the game another day, but group-based PvE is still very important. The Old Republic has a few unique problems, and they mostly deal with the story elements of the game. Say a duo of Bounty Hunters team up. When they perform story missions, sometimes the game puts up a massive green barrier. When they cross this barrier, it means that only one of the Bounty Hunters can partake in that mission, instantly separating the players until they regroup after the mission element. This is a result of the team-based conversation trees. Players will enter a conversation, and an NPC will talk to them all. Each player makes a response, and the game rolls to find out who will get to speak. There's a conflict when two characters of the same type, doing the same story stuff, come together. It's a little weird, but it makes sense in the end.

While the game can be played together at any moment, there are two areas where it is especially important to team up. First: heroic missions. These missions are particularly difficult on one's own, but they are much easier to beat once players have grouped up. The other area that requires group play are the Flashpoints. These are group-based missions that are much more self-contained. Up to four players and four players alone can play through these missions. Typically, when players work in teams, each player controls himself and a companion. In Flashpoints, companions will only be around if fewer than three players are involved.