Game: Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic
Star Wars games have always been of varying quality. For every X-Wing and Jedi Knight there was a Rebel Assault or a Phantom Menace. By 2003, the average quality of the games was getting worse and worse, probably partly due to their decision to abandon games based on the original trilogy in favour of the newer films. Fortunately, Bioware stepped in to save the license, and finally give the Star Wars universe the high quality game it deserves. Built using an enhanced version of the engine used for Neverwinter Nights, but now put into a close-up third-person perspective, KOTOR uses the usual D&D rules of previous Bioware role-playing games, but uses it to tell a high quality story set in the world of Star Wars. This time, there’s not a kobold in sight.
As you’d expect, the story involves you saving the galaxy. That might sound cliched at first, but it goes a lot further than that, with many interesting characters with their own separate plotlines and several minor quests alongside the main story. The plot makes sure you often have to make moral decisions which determine whether you follow the light side or the dark side of the force, and a twist towards the end of the game makes sure things aren’t always as they first seem. It’s hard to talk too much about the storyline without giving too much away, but it involves travelling to a variety of diverse planets to discover a device known as the Star Forge, to defeat a Sith Lord planning to use it to take over the galaxy. And it’s great, with the previously mentioned twist ranking as one of the best moments in any game around.
Gameplay is brilliantly diverse, keeping you interested through the entire course of the game. And it’s a fairly long game, likely to last around 40 hours at least, if you explore the game thoroughly. There are plenty of side quests to keep you occupied, and they range from rescuing an enslaved species to defending a suspect in a murder trial to infiltrating a Sith academy. Or perhaps you won’t help the enslaved species, if you want to play an evil character. The choice is always there. Along the way, to make things even more varied, there are several mini-games included. You can make money by taking part in swoop races on various planets, or by playing Pazaak (a popular card game similar to Blackjack). When travelling between planets, you’ll occasionally get attacked, leading to a sequence where you take control of a gun turret to shoot down enemy ships. None of these would be capable of carrying an entire game by themselves, (although Pazaak can become surprisingly addictive if you play too many games), but they do serve to break up the gameplay, and ensure you never become bored.
The characters are very well developed compared to most games. You’ll end up with a large crew to call upon, although you can only take two of them with you at any one time. Each of them has their own story to tell, and it will be revealed over the course of the game, usually ending with a small quest to bring it to its conclusion. This means you can become quite attached to the people who have joined you in your quest, a lot more so than in most games of the same type. The voice acting is always of an high quality, and the two characters you take with you will often have funny dialogue together, often bickering and teasing each other. Amongst the many character who will join you, you’ll get a Wookie, and a demented droid that wants to kill everything. What more could you ask for?
Graphically the game is reasonable. Nothing spectacular, but nothing too bad either, perfectly adequate for the requirements of the game. The engine runs very smoothly, even on fairly low spec systems, and should run perfectly on any modern computer.
So now we come to the bad points. Thankfully for a game as good as this, they’re fairly minor. The difficulty of the game overall isn’t too hard, but it can occasionally spike with a difficult battle. The final battle in particular can be very hard, especially if you happen to have avoided certain powers which drastically improve your chances of winning. The occasional puzzles in the game are all very old famous ones, meaning that anyone with a real interest in puzzles will already know them and solve them in seconds, while anyone who doesn’t will probably be frustrated by them. Also, being a game designed for consoles as well as PC, the actual levels are fairly small, meaning each planet is split over several areas, and running from one place to another might mean going through several loading points. Even this is relatively painless though, since the load times are only a few seconds anyway.
All these flaws are fairly small, and given the ultimate quality of the game, unimportant. Knights Of The Old Republic is one of the best RPGs around, and therefore one of the best games generally. In all the important aspects it succeeds, and should be enjoyed by anyone interested in Star Wars, or even people who aren’t usually interested in Star Wars, but like a good story and gameplay.
Save System Review: You can save anywhere you like, either from the menu, or with a quicksave. Perfect!
Arbitrary Final Score:
Is this one of the best RPGs ever? Yes, of course it is! But feel free to agree or disagree on our forum.