Star Wars: The Old Republic PvP Previews

Coming from PAX Prime we have a couple of new previews for BioWare Austin's Star Wars: The Old Republic, starting with GameSpy, which talks about the Player vs. Player "identity crisis":
Objectives: No, Jedi haven't suddenly taken to duking it out over a precious lightsaber crystal known as "flagonium." The modes I tried were certainly variations on multiplayer classics (specifically, Huttball had traces of capture-the-flag in its DNA, and the outdoor level involved capturing and holding points), but BioWare didn't just shoehorn Star Wars into the equation. The objectives mode, especially, wore its Jedi robes well -- with captured points activating anti-air turrets that slowly destroyed the enemy team's dropship. Verdict: The Force is with you, young Skywalker... but you are not a Jedi yet.

Skills and Classes: Despite my heartbreak over the lack of playable (and therefore, Force-choke-able) Gungans, Star Wars: The Old Republic's spread of races and classes scratched most of the right itches. I spent quality time with the Sith Assassin and goody toe-shoes Powertech, and both felt like they belonged on the front lines of a Star Wars battle. Granted, the Sith Assassin was basically a rogue who dabbled in Force lightning, but the changes -- while subtle -- still made for a fun experience. As did screaming "UNLIMITED POWWWER" at all my opponents. Which is something I may have done. Verdict: UNLIMITED... yeah, you probably get the point.

Controls: After years of intense training -- living every second on the razor's edge between life and death -- my Sith Assassin... regularly lost track of his target and stared blankly as a lightsaber gently caressed his legs off. Given the pace and size of these battles, the target-and-hotkey-mash method (shamelessly swiped from World of Warcraft) hits a few snags. To make matters worse, you either have to repeatedly click on enemies or awkwardly shift between hotkeys and mouse controls to attack. Either way, targets tend to squirm away from you in the chaos of battle... and not because of any particular skill on their parts. Verdict: I've got a bad feeling about this.

Then we move on to Massively, arguing that, as long as you're not looking for something new, the title's PvP should scratch your itch:
The game began as my team and I were jumping and dancing around like maniacs, and we were told to use the speeder bikes that had just spawned in order to be flown down to the battlefield. The devs were anxious to point out that the days of respawn timers are long gone. When you die, you are immediately sent back to your spawn ship to take the speeder bike back down to the fight. However, this doesn't seem to me at all like they're doing away with the respawn timer at all. They're only making it prettier to look at. The speeder bike takes its sweet, precious time in getting you to the fight, as if it really wants you to see the scenery before you commence bashing peoples' faces in, so the bike ride serves as a de facto respawn timer. That little rant aside, I found myself admiring the look of the place. The art looked quite nice and polished, and the animations were generally smooth and fluid.

I ran into a few small annoyances throughout the fight, however. I would occasionally get caught on invisible pieces of geometry, such as when I attempted to jump off a ledge and instead simply fell because I got snagged on something I couldn't see. The UI is still a bit buggy, and many of my abilities didn't seem to adequately indicate when I was or was not within range to use an ability, which proved to be rather obnoxious and got me killed more than once.

Gameplay in the warzone itself seemed to be fairly balanced. I didn't notice any one class completely steamrolling its competition, and the game was neck-and-neck all the way to the very end (we lost, in case you're curious). And while I somewhat enjoyed my time behind the Sith Assassin, I couldn't fight off the sense of déjà vu. I've done this before, over and over for the past six years. I walked away from the hands-on demo rather underwhelmed. That's not to say it was bad by any means. It was simply generic. Yes, the decisions to turn the control points into gun placements and to measure the score in ship shield measures rather than arbitrary numbers were inspired, and it helps to keep players a bit more immersed in the universe and invested in the battle. But the battle itself, from the combat to the principle mechanics of the warzone, is unchanged from anything we've seen in the past six years of MMOs.