A Game Review From Far, Far Away... KotOR Game Review
There are some games that you just can’t put down. It has been ten years since Bioware’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic hit the shelves and I still find myself starting up a new save file and blasting away at the game. There’s just something about this game that manages to captivate me to this day.
I’m an RPG kind of guy. It started with the classic Pokemon games and has only escalated into a wide variety of tabletop games and their video game counterparts. KotOR, however, has a special place in my heart as being a combination of some of the best elements in the world: Star Wars, RPGs, and fantastic storytelling.
Now, I can only speak for the PC version of this game. The standard WASD controls apply, although the game was heavy on the use of a mouse. You get used to the steady amount of clicking.
The game starts you off with character creation. You get pretty solid control over this - you pick your gender one of the pregenerated looks, set your stats and skills and your class. The game derives all of this from the Dungeons and Dragons tabletop, changed into a format fitting the galaxy far far away. You climb into the role of your Soldier, Scout or Scoundrel and find yourself on a ship that is getting blasted apart by the Sith, who currently wage war on the galaxy itself. Even when the game is set 4,000 before the Galactic Empire, nothing changes. You’ll eventually get a secondary Jedi class, picking from Guardian, Sentinal, and Consular, and then you can really begin to hand it to those dastardly Sith.
Standard RPG stuff folds out from there. You level up as you perform a variety of quests and activities, you gather a varied party of individuals, and you generally cause shenanigans wherever you go. Bioware’s take on this is masterfully done and it is easy to lose yourself in just the gameplay alone. You have a lot of choices when levelling up yourself and your crew, and its easy to craft something for your particular playstyle.
Combat is done through number crunching and the roll of virtual dice - all of it done offscreen, so you don’t miss skewering someone with a lightsaber amidst a hail of blaster fire. You can give your combat commands in real time or pause and set up a list of actions. You’ll find that the ability to pause and set up actions for your party is essential for bypassing the harder sections of the game, especially the last few hours.
You can spend a lot of time outside of combat by just admiring the worlds crafted and brought to life within the game. Taris really does feel like a bustling city, and Manaan’s strict bureaucracy bleeds through in familiar real-world ways. The baren Korriban reflects itself as the birthplace of the Sith, and visiting the homeworld of the Wookies reminds you that they are not the most fearsome thing on their planet. The immersion is carefully done with a variety of believable characters and beautiful sounds.
An example of the gorgeous scenary, this time of the Unknown World.
Story and Dialogue
Speaking of characters, the dialogue system is wonderfully done. Three hundred different characters exist, with a total of roughly fifteen thousand lines of speech. That’s a lot of locals to interact with. A good number of these conversations [read: a majority] will have influence over your morality - in standard Star Wars fashion, this is represented in Light Side and Dark Side points. You build up these points by either being a generous and faithful person, or by being a selfish and vengeful arse. While the standard playthrough encourages you to play the goody-two shoes, you can have a lot of natural fun by blasting force lightning everywhere and using mind control powers to swindle people out of money. The alien voices are a plus to the game - hearing Huttese and Selkatha helps immerse yourself in the lore of the worlds.
The bread and butter of the game comes from its story. The game plays out like the classic movies it derives from - a healthy mixture of action, drama, mystery and romance. Your tale begins on a doomed Republic vessel and you find yourself fleeing a similarly fated world. Your journey with the Force has you visit four worlds - Tatooine, Kashyyyk, Manaan, Korriban - in order to piece together the puzzle of who you are and how to stop the Sith and their current head honcho, Lord Malak. You’ll eventually find yourself at the seat of his power, The Star Forge, and the journey culmanates into a final one-on-one duel with the Sith Lord himself.
The journey to this ending, however, is entirely up to the player and your decisions. You have an influence over whether or not you’ll earn the Light Side or Dark Side ending, and various details can change in between then. You get to visit the four worlds in an order of your choosing, and this affects details on the ones coming afterwards. The plot thickens after each, leading to an ultimate plot twist after the third world.
Romance plays a part, as a male character has a chance to win the favor of the Jedi Bastila Shan, while a female can fall for the dashing Republic soldier Carth Onasi. Your crew isn’t limited to just your faithful lovers. You’ll have access to Twi’lek tweens, gray Jedi, Wookies, and hilariously murderous robots. The latter is a particular favorite of mine - I can’t go a single playthrough without HK-47 in my party at all times. You’ll have plenty of chances to further your bonds with your crewmates both in action and when you’re enjoying a brief respite aboard your ship, the Ebon Hawk.
The Big Finish
All said and done, nothing I’ve said compares to the game itself. You can read a game review all you want (and trust me, I could gush about The Old Republic and all the material related to it for hours) but none of it compares to playing the game. In doing this review, I hope to encourage those of you that have yet to enjoy this masterpiece to try it yourself.
I have to give KotOR a 10/10 and my soul to keep for all of time.