You can pretty much make an educated guess on the stories. In one, you're a free spirit--a smuggler, with a mobile (well-armed0 home and a penchant for attracting trouble wherever you go. The Seperatist rebellions after the war have stressed Republic supply lanes and created a highly increased demand for certain goods, opening up lucrative opportunities for those captains who tend to fly under the radar. When you arrive on Ord Mantel with a shipment of weapons, however, your ship is hijacked (along with the weapons you were smuggling). You now have two objectives; you need to reclaim your ship, and dodge the anger of the powerful crime lord whose goods you lost.
As the other, you are a fresh recruit to Imperial Intelligence, on your first mission in enemy space. As part of the Empire, particularly as a member of the Imperial armed forces, you answer to a lot of people (and most of them Sith). However, your unique skills have earned you some respect, and the need for shadow operatives has given you far more leeway and reduced supervision than most other Imperial troops could claim. You've just arrived on Hutta, posing as a smuggler, in order to infiltrate and evaluate the local Hutt crimelords. As a neutral but extremely powerful third party, the Hutt Cartel's support, or opposition, could completely turn the tide of the entire war. So far, they have staunchly refused to take one side or the other, preferring the high profits found in smuggling goods to both factions. Your job is to coerce them towards allying with the Empire, destabilize them if they will not, and uncover any information you can to further the Empire's ability to control their criminal cartel.
There. That's the groundwork for the two storylines. Each has 3 additional chapters to it (or, rather, there are 3 chapters per story, and I described the setting of the "Prologue" of sorts). This is the story you'll work with for the first 10 levels or so. Some time after that, the Smuggler will become a Republic Privateer, to explain why you stay involved with the war effort. The IA obviously doesn't have that issue.
If you'd started when you first posted your angst-ridden indecisions about class, build and end game you'd have played all the classes far enough to know.
If you play a character for 10 levels and think it sucks you have lost maybe 3 hours. More important you have found out for yourself. Of course this does remove the ability to go back and QQ all over whoever's advice you took about how much their opinion sucks - so it may not appeal.
And if you have yet to start for money issues, I'd say it's better to stop following the game until you get closer to when you can actually play. Part of the fun of RPGs is discovery, and TOR does this better than many single player games on the market, let alone MMOs.
More importantly, who cares if one story is better than the other? If you are interested in both, play both. The game is essentially 8 completely distinct story lines (with central, shared planet plot lines in addition). I played through the story that most people have been agreeing is the worst--the Consular--and I thought it was awesome. If all the rest are only going to be better from there, hells yeah I'm going to play them all.
Furthermore, the legacy system means that leveling another character won't just be a time sink. You'll gain some really nice logistical upgrades for your main's ship by increasing your legacy level, as well as unlock a heroic moment ability from the Smuggler (and his race for use with any other class, if you choose a non-human).
Stop trying to decide based on which sounds better. You're clearly interested in both, so just play both.
One difference which shouldn't be a deciding factor but if I mention it now then maybe we avoid some QQ later.
The Smuggler/Scoundrel Chapter 1 boss fight is pretty straightforward, simple even. The Sniper/Operative Chapter 1 boss fight is one of the most annoying glitchy PITA fights I have yet encountered. And having to do it 3 times does NOT help.
Sorry, couldn't help it, it was the perfect place to put a "umad" retort. Sort of like when a person says "I can't fit it in there" and you reply with "That's what she said" - you know it's lame as hell, but it still makes you chuckle.
Personally, I prefer the Imperial Agent aesthetics, especially if you go the healing route. Where the Smuggler uses a "scan" for most of his direct heals, the Agent actually gets different animations for each. Your main heal isn't just a scan, it's you shooting kolto syringes at your target, or stabbing yourself with the syringe if you're the target.
Agent starship is also one of the only perfectly symmetrical ones in the game, which is just win when you're obsessed with symmetry like I am. Unfortunately, the Agent ship is also one of the more boring ones, aesthetically, as it looks, sounds and feels like a plastic toy during space missions.
Agent storyline is more thrilling than the Smuggler's (as far as I've played them). There's all kinds of double-crossing taking place, and the Imperial side is fun in the sense that it's more "real" in the gritty way whereas Republic side is more "heroic" in the "I'ma save the universe!" kind of way. The Republic side goes to great lengths to make you feel like an ass if you choose Dark Side options (for the greater good) whereas the Imperial side is more "Meh, he was a bastard anyway."
Examples (spoilers for both classes):
Agent: You're sent to investigate a person called the Black Death. He's been hunting the native Evocii (humanoid species) for some time, cutting off their ears for trophies. When confronted, he's arrogant and boasts about being from a major company. He insults you and threatens you and you're presented with two options: Lie to him, making him think he's attracted the attention of one of the local Hutts (which will make him run away), or shoot him in the face. Shooting him in the face was gratifying as hell and had no repercussions.
Smuggler: After doing some missions on Ord Mantell, you run into your boss' girlfriend. You become friends over the course of the storyline on that planet, maybe even striking up a flirtatious relationship. Nearing the end of the story on Ord Mantell, you return to your boss (who is by then becoming your friend) and catch his girlfriend in flagrante delicto, having just killed him and being in the middle of a chat with the guy who stole your ship and put a bounty on your head. You then get the choice between letting her go, because she got trouble-crossed by the guy she was secretly in love with, or shooting her in the face. I shot her in the face, because she betrayed us all and killed my boss (who was also a friend) for no damn reason. My companion got piss angry with me about shooting damsels, even if they did backstab you once or twice and killed one of your (and the companion's) friends.
I vastly prefer the male Smuggler's voice actor and dialogue options, though, and the Smuggler outfits. Being a space cowboy looks a hell of a lot more cool than wearing skintight latex (with thong patterns) as a male.
Edited, Apr 8th 2012 2:24pm by Mazra
Please "talk up" if your comprehension white-shifts. I will use simple-happy language-words to help you understand.
No I was just thinking to head off a QQ from our karma-challenged friend here when he gets his IA to 30.
I agree the agent ship is the best looking in the game.
I have IA and Smuggler through Chapter One. As Sniper the final fight really is a PITA. I'm not the only one who thinks this. You are a ranged class but the boss cannot be targetted from range. It is a kiting fight - which I am useless at - and you have to kill him three times. The first two are just a setback! . I believe it is easier as Operative but that is the one class I've not yet levelled.
The Smuggler gets an easy kill in comparison.
I've done Chapter one fights on Trooper, Consular, Smuggler, BH and IA and the IA was definitely the worst. And not just because it was a hard challenge. I know I'm not that good so I expect a few deaths on bosses. But the glitching was bad. When you stand next to a mob and get "you cannot see your target" then something needs some TLC. And that has been like it for a very long time.
As for the story, both are pretty good. Chasing the guy who stole your ship gives a decent motivation although you do at times wonder why you take all the frack from the strange bint in your cargo hold.
IA is a bit more strained as everyone does missions for ImpSec and you're just doing another one. But you're right about the dark light thing. My IA is almost Dark 4 and has a serious case of insubordination. Whether after Chapter one it becomes a homage to or ripoff of Farscape is open to interpretation.
I played through the story that most people have been agreeing is the worst--the Consular--and I thought it was awesome. If all the rest are only going to be better from there, hells yeah I'm going to play them all.
I'm looking forward to your review when you play the IA through. The story was totally engrossing for me.
The Sniper/Operative Chapter 1 boss fight is one of the most annoying glitchy PITA fights I have yet encountered.
idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Defender of the Empire: Line of sight issues when engaging 'The Eagle' on the bridge of his ship have been resolved.
Yes, that fight has supposedly been fixed, and I cut out the relevant part of Idigg's quote above.