Personally, I think it looks cool. Here's this dark, sickly looking guy coming to totally pwn you!! Makes me feel more evil too.
I agree with you on Republic side though. I played Rep in beta so as not to ruin story for myself, and yeah, too cut and dry, this is right, this is wrong, not really entertaining. Even playing light side on Empire is way more fun.........Um, I mean Roll Dark Side Empire or go home!!!
The shadows on my game turn themselves back on EVERY time I enter a zone as well. It's kinda awful. I turn them off so that I don't lag since the shadow quality in the game is terrible anyways, but it never stays for more than 5 mins because of how often you go through loading screens in this game.
*EDIT* I realize that was slightly off topic, just saying that my settings do seem to revert after every loading screen as well!
Hmmm, none of my settings revert. Just curious what OS are you running? I know I have a problem in Vista that prevents Vent from working unless I run as admin because SWTOR is running as admin by default. Maybe in other versions of windows it is not, and is therefore unable to save settings? Try running SWTOR as Admin maybe? Not sure here, but at least worth a try I guess.