Review by Websterh8su

"Want to be a Jedi? Here's the Next Best Thing."

Most people like Star Wars- it's a franchise that somehow burrowed into modern culture with ease. Even with the relentless crap and wasted potential that was Star Wars: Episode 1, its fans have not faltered in their constant support. There are countless sites and forums devoted to Star Wars, toys, posters, comics... and so on. Another extension of the franchise is its ill-advised foray into the computer games market. As with most movie-licensed games, they quite frankly stink, with the odd exceptions of 'TIE...' and the Jedi Knight series.
And now it's time for the shameless marketing folk at Lucasarts to release a barrage of more titles- Star Wars: Galaxies, Jedi Academy, and Knights of the Old Republic.

KOTOR (as I shall refer to it from now on) was originally a game for the X-Box, but now it's been ported to the PC, there are several new features, including a brand new game area (roughly the size of a bathroom, and with less to do in it, disappointingly) and a mouse-based interface.
My first impression on play was along the lines of: ''Oh my God. The controls are HORRIBLE!'' However, the system soon becomes second nature, and I had no problems with it after a half-hour.

The graphics are excellent, though you'll need a top PC to run it without slowdown. There is no way you'd realise that this was a port just looking at the graphics. I was particularly impressed with the fighting- the game allows you to pause the game during battle, and when paused, the camera can be rotated. This is pretty cool as you can see where every spark, and every blaster-bolt is. As for the environments, they are beautiful, from the forests of Kashyyyk to the rich, vast plains of Dantooine. The water is amazing, though you don't seem to be able to interact with most of it. Character models are detailed and expressive, though there are a lot of Twi'leks, which gets a bit repetitive. Still, the graphics are endlessly watchable, ideal for a game you'll be spending 30+ hours with.

As for music, what can I say? There's the classic theme tune as well as many more original pieces which fit in with the Star Wars feel. It's got nothing against Final Fantasy, but is good none-the-less. The voice acting, for a game of this scope, is amazing- every single character (Except for the main character) has a voice, and it's all very well done. Several alien dialects are mixed in as well, and yes, wookies still sound like dogs trapped between a rock and a hard place. My only complaint is that some of the alien voices are re-used, but that's just me nit-picking.

The story is the usual 'save the universe' crap, but it's so well done and features such a good twist that you won't care. Basically, you are a young recruit on the Endar Spire, a Republic Starship. You awake to find your ship under attack. Teaming up with another crew member, you battle your way off the ship, only to crash on a planet under Sith control. The Sith are under the control of Darth Malak, and they seek to conquer the galaxy. Obviously, you must stop them. Unfortunately, the story is blighted slightly by some pretty bad characterisation late on in the game, but still... it's good.

Gameplay-wise, this is just Baldur's Gate in Star Wars clothing- by no means a bad thing. You start off by creating a character that belongs to one of three classes and set up their attributes, and then name them. However compared to Biowares other efforts, these choices are rather limited, with only a few character models to choose from. Also, anyone expecting a truly hardcore challenge may be disappointed- you may need to crank the difficulty right up. Still, niggles aside, this is a cracking game, with all manner of challenges, mini-games and all manner of things of which there is to much to mention here. One feature that stands out is the ability to be aligned with either the light or dark side, and you may find the game a real eye-opener for seeing your true personality.

For an RP, the game isn't particularly lengthy- around 30 hours- but you may want to play it twice, as being aligned to different sides changes the game to some degree.

Pros:

-Good story.
-Excellent voice acting and music.
-Deep, varied gameplay.
-Good graphics.
-Open-ended (within limits)

Cons:

-Requires a beast of a PC to run if you don't want slowdown.
-Some scarcely believable characterisation.
-Easy, at least for anyone who's finished an RPG before.
-Character Customisation options lacking.

Anyway, this game is probably the best Star Wars game ever (not that hard to achieve, admittedly) and more than worthy of your attention. It's a bit slow, there are some flaws, but it remains amazing. I finally achieved my dream of wielding two lightsabers (one long, one short) at around 20 hours in, and it was intensely rewarding. This game was meant to be an experience, and that's exactly what it is.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/23/03


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