Review by Mizumon
"Making lightsabers just got easier."
I admit it; I'm not truly a Star Wars fan. I mean, I truly adored the first three movies involving the epic battles of Luke Skywalker and his band of rebels. It wasn't until I got older did my appreciation for the Star Wars story evolve, but only slightly. When I saw this game on shelves after Christmas, however, I just had to have it; several people were giving great reviews on this game, and my love for wielding lightsabers in a dynamic Star Wars plot just told me to get this game. And boy, am I glad I did.
GAMEPLAY - 10/10
I've played my fair share of role-playing games before, both paper and pencil and console role-playing games. However, you could say that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was blending both into the one category that it really is: role-playing. Although Bioware and other developers in the game industry have done this before, this was probably my first time playing something like this. Sure, I had heard and touched the 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons rules before, and I've played several console role-playing games before, but I have absolutely never played something like this before in my gaming life.
In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, you (and I DO mean you, the gamer) are given the choice to first choose what your character will look like (sorry, Sims fans, but you can't accessorize or choose what the body looks like with clothes choices and such; you only get a few pre-designed character head models to choose from, and there is absolutely no customization allowed) AFTER choosing your basic class: solider, scout, and scoundrel. Anybody who has played Dungeons and Dragons before, or any other similar pencil and paper role-playing game before will probably know what these three classes represent in the paper and pencil world: the warrior, ranger, and rogue classes! Each class specializes in a certain area: the soldier class specializes in combat, the scout class specializes in a bit of everything, and the scoundrel class specializes in sneaking around and doing some rather sneaky sneak attacks. After choosing your class and your gender, you do the before-mentioned character head model choosing and you are soon thrown into the midst of a Star Wars plot.
Moving around in the semi-large environments in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is usually and can be easily navigated by either using a mouse or a keyboard. Several menus allow different access to things you need to know and maybe hints you want, and several different icons can alert you straight away what's happened and why. For those easily lost in creepy, maze-like environments, Bioware was nice enough to include a map-system for you guys so you can pretty much find your way (of course, to actually get the map details you have to explore around the area to get what you want).
Controls are quite responsive, and to those who just hate clicking option after option after option has given you the chance to use the keyboard to the extent it can pretty much control everything you need to control! In fact, almost every menu, action, movement, mode, and mini-game function can be assigned to a button in the options menu of the in-game menu, allowing those who hate using the mouse to pretty much control everything from their keyboards.
Battle is swift, cinematic, dynamic, and seemingly blends real-time fighting with role-playing commands together! What happens is this: as soon as your character sees an enemy, the game will pause (if you set it that way in your options menu, as it should be in default) and you will soon have the option to aim at enemies and give commands to your avatar and your party (that consists of three, including you). After assigning whatever you want them to do, you can un-pause the game and watch the action unfold as your characters actually follow your commands, running around and swinging weapons around as if they were in an action game! Of course, at any moment, you can pause the game and automatically give your characters new commands to follow, delete old commands, or simply just tell it to run away like a scared chicken. In a way, you could say that this battle system somewhat blends a more realistic feel of battle with the old-style, command giving battle system of role-playing games. I truly congratulate Bioware for making this battle system; considering how most of the time us role-players spend on our games is in battle, why not make it seem more like battle? Thanks to Bioware, it does now.
For those who think that this game is devoid of mini-games at this point, you are truly mistaken. Your avatar in the game will partake in swoop bike racing and play Pazaak games (a game quite like Blackjack) in his free time. In fact, after a few minutes of playing in the swoop bike races, I was so engrossed I ended up enjoying a genre I have often disliked: racing. People who crave ultimate weapons will have something that will truly interest them as well; in this large game, players are given the choice to find items to upgrade their weapons!
However, one of the most key items in the game that truly shine is the fact that in this game, your avatar has the choice of becoming a light or dark character! Players of Japanese dating simulation games will be somewhat familiar with this part of the game; conversation will often MAKE you involved with the game. Suppose you were talking to a party member in the game - you don't just READ what this particular party member is doing, you also end up choosing phrases to respond to the conversation! What you say can end up putting points on your light or dark side meter, causing your character to be more attuned to either side of the force. If you ask what this may have to do with the game, then I'll tell you: force powers (that you will receive later on) will often soon border themselves between being a light power or dark power. As such, being a dark Jedi means that your dark force powers will be cheaper to pay for with your force points (think of it as magic points) while your light force powers will be more expensive, and vice versa. What you end up being will also affect the more powerful force powers of that side you will receive - and don't think you can a neutral Jedi in the game forever! Choices you must make in the game often always either reward you light or dark points - pretty soon, you will see your light or dark meter rise or fall.
In conclusion, the gameplay in Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic is so solid that almost even the most nit picky of all gamers will be sure to at least appreciate this game in the smallest way.
STORY - 8/10
The story in Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic isn't exactly revolutionary, but it certainly is gripping at times - however, in the end it does drop from being quite good to mediocre; in the end, though, it's not exactly the main plot that will grip you: in fact, it will almost be certain the side plots will grip you more!
The story stars off with you, sleeping in a large ship called the Endar Spire that starts getting attacked by Sith! The story continues on from there as a Jedi on the ship named Bastila escapes in hopes of saving herself as she is, seemingly, the Republic's hope against the Sith. As a Republican soldier, you and another soldier named Carth (apparently, quite a skilled soldier who has fought in many wars) take an escape pod and leave the doomed Endar Spire in search of Bastila. As you land on a backwater planet with a Sith quarantine placed on it (making any transportation away and in to the planet not plausible) you and Carth begin the search for Bastila and the plot pretty much continues from there.
In conclusion, the plot is good enough to keep you groped for the entire game. Sure, the plot may not win any awards for its 'fantastic, well-written story', but in game standards, its quite good.
MUSIC AND SOUND - 10/10
Already the music score gets a few good points due to the fact there are several familiar tunes from the movie that are used in the game: I loved listening to the tunes and humming them in my head as I ventured around the area.
Second of all, the sound is well done: if you were talking to somebody and walked away, their voices would trail off like they would in real life, and everybody you talk to speaks in this game! Several dozens of hours of voice acting is a welcome addition to this game, and the voice actors themselves truly fit the characters they portray (in most cases... I still can't over the voice of that Tarisian girl child voice actor).
Battle sounds are present and quite realistic, with blasters making their firing noises and lightsabers swinging about making their laser sounds. What disturbed me the most, however, was the fact that when swords clash there is no metal-clanging noises, but it was good enough for me.
In conclusion, TURN YOUR VOLUME UP WHEN YOU PLAY THIS GAME. Your ears shall be rewarded, for sure.
OVERALL SCORE - 9/10 (FANTASTIC!)
This game is, as it says above, fantastic. Even the averaged score is high enough to hold it's own as a great game. To those people who question whether this game is worth buying or renting, it truly is worth buying, since renting it won't really let you accomplish the whole game (in my opinion). I hope you guys enjoy this game as much as I did. May the force be with you.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/01/04
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