I think It's still alive. I went into a 14 day trial and found that, if you could get by the sometimes almost full day of maintenance per week (sometimes only a few hours though) you'd find a just barely passable MMO IMO. The Installation took almost 3 hours though
-Plenty of profession (class) choices
-Plenty of weapon choices
-Plenty of armor choices
-Space Combat is great. Twitch based, and your ships loadout is totaly customizeable.
-Crafting system is about the best I've seen in any game.
-Reverse Engineering to make even better ship gear.
-Tailoring options are spectacular. You have so many clothing choices...it's not funny.
-Player Housing and City is unique and probably still SWG's greatest feature.
-Content is limited. SWG was originally intended to be completely player driven, as to the community creates the content....but it was never utilized properly. Most content it rather drol.
-Community used to be great, but with the unpopular changes...many left..never to return, and constantly bash SOE, even tho the majority of the fault lies with Lucasarts trying to micromanage the franchise.
-Game feels empty. Compared to when I played, there's hardly anyone around. They are in the process of condensing servers again, but no official word has been put out (Meaning they opened up free character transfers off of certain servers)
-There really isn't much End Game Content. Once you hit cap...There's not much to do besides collect junk and decorate your house. There are a few high end instances....but overall...Meh.
Make your own mind up about it. I am trying to be fair with my report here.. I started playing SWG a month after US Launch...and I absolutely loved the game...until the changes hit...but I stuck with it for years....Only ended up finally canceling just before STO went Open Beta.
Last I heard a few SOE games were still offline after their account database got hacked, not sure if SWG is back, but it was still running. They've closed a lot of servers, and it's languishing with little to no developer attention and even less support. Last time I turned my account back on the community mostly traded fantasies about an "inevitable" pre-NGE server.
It's not free to play. There's little to no developer attention, even less support. There's not many servers left, and the community has descended into everything that's worst in MMO communities, like every dying MMO counting the borrowed days until the decision is finally made and the plug is pulled.
SOE "messing some stuff up" is an understatement, but NGE wasn't what killed the game. The ground combat had aged poorly and was pretty poor to begin with, and by the time NGE was released they had already lost far more players than they had left to lose. The NGE wasn't even the worst of it, but the big problem is that the second half of it (which it shouldn't have launched without) never happened. They were going to make different types of weapons to go with their shooter mode, but instead left every gun working exactly the same way and every melee weapon working exactly the same way, left balance the same, and left all the other mechanics the same. They launched a new control scheme before updating the game to match, and then they just never managed to update the game.
To me the graphics are really dated. I played it about a month in 2006 before going to DDO. There were probably about thirty servers. When I went back a few months ago on a free trail to see it, there was only like five.
The space combat is a fighter sim and you can use joysticks. Ground combat is pretty good with a skill tree something like WoW's.
The worlds are large and players and guilds could build cities, mining facilities and homes almost anywhere.