Review by kianbung

"Better late than never"

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a long awaited game for both Star Wars and RPG enthusiasts alike. Brought to the XBox early 2003, the PC version was finally released at the end of the same year, putting an end to the gruelling wait for all PC gamers. Developed by BioWare, the folks who brought us Neverwinter Nights, and published by Lucas Arts, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was an instant success upon its very release.

GRAPHICS - 7
With all the contenders for graphical superiority in the world of gaming, BioWare have made a smart move of not joining the mindless brawl of visual flourishes. Thus the graphics in this game are definitely nothing to scream about. However, they are still decent even for this age where computer graphics have advanced with leaps and bounds. The texturing are decent enough for today's standards, the flashes and explosions are brilliant, and the particle effects are top-knotch.

Still, the characters, albiet beautifully textured, still lack the certain realistic feel found in some other games. There are some parts of the faces on the characters that feel a little out of perportion (like a particular woman's lips, for example). The modelling of some areas are a little blocky, and some places have near similar texturing, making every room look the same. And there's still the old problem called clipping, though such a common flaw can be excused.

SOUND - 8
True to its heritage, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic has all the good old lightsaber and blaster sound effects we all know and love. Nothing has changed, and I'd rather it be that way. The combat sound effects are loud, a little too loud for my liking. The music was just perfect, with the good old opera-esque background music forging the Star Wars mood. Of course, I've always liked Star Wars-esque music, so I might be a little bias.

They made a great effort in voice acting, and I must say it paid off real well. Most of the voices are alive with emotion, gripping you with their emotions. Unfortunately, the alien voices are without much variety, as I could hear them say the same lines over and over again when they're talking about different stuff. Too bad, I was hoping I could 'learn' some Star Wars alien language.

GAMEPLAY - 8
Excellent! From the first step of character creation until I finally finish the game, I was enjoying myself immensely. You start off creating a character, choosing from Soldier, Scout or Scoundrel, modifying him/her to your liking, or just hit the quick setup button to jump right into the game. Either way, this game starts off with the ship you're aboard under attack by the Sith, and you must find a way off.

This is a thinking man's game, and mindlessly charging into the fray will leave your butt full of blaster holes. That's when the game's most essential feature comes into play. You'll find yourself constantly bashing the pause button as you queue orders for your party, which will vary from one to three people. This way, you will be able to make them carry out advanced patterns of strategic commands while keeping your sanity.

While the pause button was great, I found it frustrating that I couldn't queue movement like Neverwinter Nights, especially when you want to move two people at once in the heat of battle. Also, it was too bad that BioWare did not create a Party Retreat function that will immediately make your party ignore the enemies and follow the party leader. It's just plain annoying when you've just paused and pressed Disengage for all the characters, then you run off happily with your party leader only to find your party has stupidly re-engaged the enemy and got slaughtered.

All these problems are minor compared to this: The game is unfairly difficult towards Scoundrels, especially towards the end. This game is heavily combat-oriented, and Scoundrels don't do well in one-on-one fights, which happen to be what you get in some really crucial parts. Here's a point: We HATE one-on-one fights, why make us suffer? This is an RPG, not a shooter.

STORY - 10
This game has everything a RPG sould have: a solid storyline, a great villan, romance, and best of all, one of the greatest plot twists of all time. It pulls you in and holds you there until the very end. Even then you're left wanting more. This is definitely an experience you don't want to miss, trust me.

REPLAYABILITY - 9
Three classes, two alignments, and two different endings. If you want to try them all out you'll have to play it twelve times through. And that still doesn't put your gender into consideration. There are also lots of side-quests to follow, so you'll definitely want to play this game at least twice to get both light-side and dark-side experience, and complete all the sidequests. Keep in mind that this game is a 30 to 40 hour experience, so you're going to have to stay in front of your computer for weeks if you want to try it all out.

CONTROLS - 7
The WSAD controls are decent, though A and D controls the camera, not sidesteps. This is rather annoying, but you could always change the keymap if you want to. This game's movement scheme is camera oriented, which I find rather annoying since I'd very much prefer Neverwinter Nights's point-click movement commands.

OVERALL - 8
For all Star Wars and RPG fans out there, get it NOW or you will regret it for the rest of your life. Never have I enjoyed a Star Wars game as much as this one. Casual gamers might find the 30 to 40 hours game time a little too much though. Despite a few minor flaws in the game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic definitely deserves the Game of the Year award for 2003.

PROS
- Star Wars
- Lightsabers
- You get to become Jedi
- Detailed character customisation
- Great storyline
- Great replay value
- Neverwinter Nights killer

CONS
- Kinda dumb pathfinding at times
- Unfair towards Scoundrels
- Slightly wierd control sheme
- Choose a Yoda-like race we cannot


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/11/04


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