Yes, it is good in that the story offers us balance in showing that both sides have some kind of power - i.e. the Sith Empire is not an unproven power. Better is that we will not be thown into the middle of a war and have to play catch-up with the story of it: we'll get to see it from the beginning.
And yes, it is very similar to other Star Wars stories. But, I guess they think that you should stick with a winning formula!