In High School I burnt out on the Star Wars franchise as a whole. I came to the conclusion that all of it was feudalist fantasy tripe in sci-fi drag. The prequel films only affirmed my opinions on the subject. Thus I was mostly immunized against certain types of hype that preceded the MMO launch that everyone couldn't shut up about.

What happened was that in my "why isn't Mass Effect 3 out yet" funk I did let myself get talked into trying said MMO. As I had suspected, SWTOR is 8 decent (but not great) "lite" Bioware single player RPGs glued together with a poor, old school MMO design with typical boring MMO "kill 10 rats" grinds to stretch the single player MMO progression out to a more MMO-ordinary progression curve. As a bit of an MMO masochist I've had a lot of experience in MMOs, and in its social aspects SWTOR feels like a MMO from the turn of this century and like its missing a decade or more of experience and innovation.

For having millions of players, it's badly fractured sharding on top of over-the-top-instancing (minus modern instancing innovations like smart leveling and auto-PUGs) combined with poor social tools (it has a standard LFG search that not enough people group enough to know or care about leaving the mostly-ignored chat channels left for mostly LFG yells and complaints), SWTOR feels dead inside. Millions of people that only contribute to "Hey look at all the named NPCs in this grindtastic single player RPG".

The single player stuff has interesting moments. I'm floored by how much money and time has obviously been lumped into this. There is so much awesome voice acting by great voice actors (and neat cameos from other name actors). Among other things, I'm amused every time I hear Lasseter (from Psych) speaking from the mouth of a cat man. The very slow drip of meaningful choices to a character's stories are interesting when you do make it to those scattered milestones.

On the other hand, the SWTOR story does not (and absolutely could not) have the deepness of, as two examples, Dragon Age or Mass Effect. There's obviously nowhere near the social activism and tough choices of Dragon Age, and dark/light-side decisions are clearly the lame "puppy decisions" [1] you would expect from the franchise that have nowhere near the gravitas that Shepard eventually picked up in paragon/renegade decisions.

I'll admit I'm not 100% immune to the Star Wars aesthetic. The Star Wars title crawl still excites me--- three terrible films didn't entirely destroy that for me--- particularly in video games. About a dozen levels into playing a dumb, naive, Jedi, when she picked up a second lightsaber for the first time I did have a "I remember now, lightsabers are cool" moment.

Admittedly, I'm probably going to keep playing until the real Mass Effect 3 comes out. I kind of squint my eyes and pretend SWTOR is terrible Mass Effect fan fiction, with lots of money spent on neat voice acting work.

[1]Will you save the puppy, or kill the puppy?