Developed and Published By: Aspyr (port), Bioware & LucasArts (original) Categories: RPG Release Date: 11.11.21
What a great time during the Prequel Trilogy it was to be a Star Wars fan. Opinions on the films are still a bit mixed, but it’s generally agreed on that it was a golden age for the video games. I’d probably say it started just right before the prequels came out, but it opened the floodgates for creativity. Racing games, games that let you control Clone Troopers, games covering the Clone Wars. They were covering the Extended Universe and it was great and made Star Wars more than just the films.
Bioware, a renowned at the time RPG developer would take the reigns for Knights of the Old Republic, a game taking place even further back in time. The biggest draw in my opinion was the game’s morality system. This isn’t new to WRPGs in the least and Star Wars games have delved into this kind of stuff before with the Jedi Knight games, but not to the extent KotOR does.
Dark Side, Light Side, that’s up to you. This is the best part about KotOR. Want to be the stereotypical boyscout that the Jedi are supposed to be? Maybe you want to be the biggest asshole in the universe? You can just be middle of the road too if you want to. Your choice, but the game will change depending on all of this.
As expected, this is a big part of how the plot will go and your ending, but it has different functions too. Your appearance, your Jedi powers, how people treat and react to you. It’s not just doing what you think a Jedi or Sith would do that affect this. Of course, helping people out in need gives you Light Side points, but sometimes it’s something just as simple as talking to some drunks without starting a fight or *not* stealing from someone.
I never played KotOR back in the day, so bare with me for my opinions. I can see why people have nostalgia for this game. The writing, the characters, they’re fantastic. The gameplay though…ages a bit less gracefully. Lets dig into that. WRPGs generally are closer to those tabletop games they’re influenced by than JRPGs.
Battles while not the core of KotOR, are a big part of the game and feel absolutely awful. It’s sorta turn based? I think? I never got the handle of the combat, I know you can choose your moves, but what actually activates them? Is picking the same move twice just deactivating it? Moving deactivates it. There’s also the RNG of whether attacks will even hit or not. Example: I saved right before a fight. Run 1, I go in to attack, I am completely wrecked. Run 2, *I* completely wreck the opposition. What gives? I know if I pick something, especially healing items, it’ll eventually activate, but I never quite get a good feel of the combat, ever. I don’t feel like I am in control at any point outside of running away saving me from harm.
Sure, you can grind, but then that’d require more of the godawful combat to get quicker experience. Much like a tabletop game, I constantly feel like I need a booklet with me at all times. Especially with the optional card game, Pazaak. At least at first.
At the very least, I do have to give credit with really just how open the game is. There is a set story with branches, characters, etc… But you play as you want. You do it when you want, how you want. You want to fiddle with the loads of side quests? By all means, some even can split off depending on which Force side you align with.
For a 2003 Xbox/PC game, KotOR is frankly an ugly game. Design wise, it’s fine, and some of the characters are very memorable. But graphics wise, this is a poor showing. Looking less like a game halfway through the strongest console at the time and more like an early PS2 game. At least, like every other piece of Star Wars media, the music is fantastic. As is the voice acting.
All and all, my issues with the game, namely it’s gameplay make me even more excited for Aspyr’s remake. I love everything with the lore, the writing, but I cannot get over how stilted the game is in combat.
Buy Now: $14.99
*Game Download Code graciously provided for the purpose of review