When the clocks strike midnight, the rush will be on into EA’s newest massively multiplayer online game – and the only title around that has any chance of giving “World of Warcraft” any sort of competition. StarWars-TheOldRepublic

“Star Wars: The Old Republic,” made by the company’s Bioware Studios in conjunction with LucasArts lets players explore the rich universe 3,500 years before the Star Wars films occur in the timeline.

That gives lots of flexibility as far as story, but robs players of the chance to interact with favorite characters like Darth Vader and Han Solo. (Then again, seeing as a Sony-run MMO Star Wars game set in that universe just shut down for good, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.)

The game’s rumored to have cost over $135 million and it shows, with fully voiced characters and epic land and space combat. It will have a long climb to reach World of Warcraft’s subscriber base of more than 10 million players, but pre-orders for the game have set an all-time EA record for a PC title – and if any franchise can pose a threat, it’s Star Wars.