I believe Star Wars: the Old Republic will be the greatest MMO yet produced. I have this belief based on both my experiences with Bioware games and the similarities to Blizzard and disimilarities to both Mythic and Funcom.
You may be familiar with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, a couple games which in my opinion are not only the best Star Wars games to date, but tell a better story than Episodes I-III. Bioware came out with another title Jade Empire, which although overlooked is an AMAZING game. I thoroughly enjoyed it and played it through a couple times. The last title in their resume is Mass Effect, a game which I have not yet played, but heard excellent things about.
Thats three franchises which are completely disimilar to each other, none of which are mmos. The similarities are rich, character driven storylines, and fairly customizable character growth. All three were fairly critically acclaimed (8/10 or better by most media outlets), with two out of the three arguably being the best in their areas (I will admit, although I LOVED Jade Empire, it was somewhat of a niche game and was not as popular as the other two).
They have produced one game prior to Warhammer, that being Dark Age of Camelot, a game which from what I can tell, looks like a prequel to Warhammer. System looks very similar, it seems to be basically what I've heard about warhammer in a different setting.
Funcom has two franchises released prior to the release of Age of Conan: Dreamfall, a more traditional platform RPG, and Anarchy online, an MMO. Both games received reviews generally between 7-8/10 although Anarchy online was plagued with problems on launch, one review said it was "promising with big technical flaws".
Blizzard released a number of smaller games in the early to mid 90's, they are most well known for three franchises: Warcraft and Starcraft (real time strategy), and Diablo (adventure RPG). All three were critically acclaimed and spawned sequels (Starcraft 2 has yet to be released).
What I take away from this: First of all, Blizzard and Bioware are more similar to each other than the other two companies for two reasons. First, before relweasing their MMO's, neither company had ventured into that market. The other similarity they have with each other is a larger body of work with higher acclaim. The way I see it is this: good companies produce good games, period. It doesn't matter if those companies are producing MMO's, real time strategy, Adventure RPG, or first person shooters. Mythic and Funcom seemed to have followed their "model" exactly when it comes to their MMO offerings. It could be argued Blizzard did the same. Looking at past trends, I believe the Old Republic will follow Bioware's model of other games. It will be story based and more than likely offer a large number of cutscenes/cinematics.
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