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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars Galaxies was announced to the world at large. Was it worth the wait?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, “Star Wars Galaxies” was announced to the world at large. The first massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) to be set in the Star Wars universe, “Galaxies” instantly became one of the most eagerly anticipated games of all time. Masterminded by the same people who brought us “Everquest”–which remains the industry standard for MMORPGs both in terms of design and critical success–“Galaxies” seemed poised to be a slam dunk…and it’s still poised, should Sony ever decide to add actual content to the brilliant game engine or fix numerous bugs.

When most people think of video games set in the Star Wars universe, visions of Jedi Knights and operatic starship battles come to mind. “Galaxies” shows a different side of the Star Wars universe, however–there are no space battles, Jedi are as yet nonexistent, and what little action you’ll see is no more exciting than clicking on your left mouse button every few minutes.

“Galaxies” is much like “Everquest,” which is to say it’s much like almost every MMORPG on the market. The point of the game is to continually level up your character by killing increasingly stronger enemies or by completing in-game missions handed out by such characters as Jabba the Hutt, Princess Leia, or C3PO. The missions themselves are almost identical, with only the names and locations changing. Even worse, many of the missions are buggy and unplayable. Making matters worse, each time Sony releases a patch to fix them, new ones seem to crop up just as quickly.

Despite all the complaints, I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t enjoy “Star Wars Galaxies”–far from it. The depth of the character creation utility is absolutely stunning, allowing you access to 10 different species, and the ability to fine tune everything from their hair to the shape of their nostrils. Once in the game, the extent to which you can change your character is almost limitless: You can buy a house, choose from a massive number of professions, or simply pass the time by fishing or learning to dance.

In the end, what makes the game work is how much it feels like “Star Wars.” You can meet series notables like Han and Jabba the Hutt, delight in the John Williams score, and marvel at the gorgeous graphics–if you have a powerful enough PC to do them justice, that is. I began playing “Galaxies” on a 2GHz P4 with 512MB of RAM, and it still chugged along at barely 20 frames per second with most of the details turned off. It wasn’t until I ran it on a high-end Alienware Area 51 machine that I was able to turn the graphics all the way up and bask in the beauty of the game. It is either a testament to my Alienware or Sony’s art department, but Galaxies is the best looking and sounding RPG on the market.

As with all online-based games, “Galaxies” is something of a work in progress, so it is hard to make a judgment on its quality so soon after its launch. However, I can say that it just doesn’t feel finished, but what Sony did finish is fantastic. “Galaxies” is one of the few games that I fully intend to play well after my deadline. I suppose that is the highest compliment any reviewer can give.

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