Review by GawdDawgs
A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, there was one of the best RPG's ever made. And that game was called StarWars: Knights of the Old Republic.
Ok, with the cliche cheesiness out of the way, I'll still stick to the premise: StarWars Knights of the Old Republic (KotoR) is simply put: a fantastic game - and that's an understatement. Before you read further into the review, I'd like to say that I have not played the Xbox version and therefore this review is based primarily on a PC experience alone. With that said, Kotor is a truly remarkable game for both fans of StarWars, the action/rpg genre, or just games with a great story in general. KotoR is something entirely original, despite the fact that it's settled in the StarWars universe. The gameplay itself, while somewhat of a hybrid, is also very original and very, very fun. However, even though I gave this game a perfect 10/10 score, do not believe that the game does not have its flaws. But they are so minor that it doesn't even matter. Kotor is one of the best games to ever be released. Period.
You are a new recruit aboard the Endar Spire as it is under attack by the Sith, which have dominant control over the galaxy during this time. You must find and rescue the jedi Bastila and become a jedi to stop the evil Sith Master Darth Malak.
That is just the tip of the iceburg of the deep and involving plot. Like I said earlier, Kotor's story, even though it's set in the StarWars universe which is often all too familiar in every SW game, is entirely original. It takes place like 4000 years before Phantom Menace even takes place. There's original characters, original and familiar locations, and the story is entirely original and absolutely fantastic. I cannot emphasize this enough. The story of Kotor really pulls you in. You will be interacting with about 9 different allies in your party, and each and every one of them has a back story worth telling and worth listening to. You'll find yourself actually caring for just about every character's situation, and not only do they interact with your character, but eachother as well. The main story has a shocking twist as well, much like that of the Original Trilogy.
There are even two separate endings, depending on which side you choose: Light or Dark. The story is absolutely fantastic.
How exactly does this game play? Well, for starters it's sort of a pseudo-action/RPG. It's more of an RPG than anything else, but it isn't like Final Fantasy or Breath of Fire or any kind of RPG like that. Nor is it like Diablo. The closest game I can compare Kotor to gameplay wise is probably Bioware's own PC game Neverwinter Nights. In fact, the best way I can describe it is a hugely upgraded Neverwinter Nights game. Basically, the fighting is sort of real time, but it's based off of your stats and skills, like in an RPG. And for D&D geeks, the game even keeps a log of rolls and such during fights if you so desired to look into it.
First of all, you'll be starting out with your character creation. You can pick either a male or female, and choose from 3 different classes: Soldier, Scout, or Scoundrel. A Soldier is more combat based, a Scoundrel is more stealth based, and a Scout is sort of a balance between the two. Eventually your character will be becoming a jedi, and there are 3 different types of jedi as well: Guardian, Sentinel, or Consular. The Guardian emphasizes heavily on lightsaber combat, the Consular focuses more on force abilities, while the Sentinel is a balance between the two. Depending on which class you pick, that will determine what color lightsaber you pick, but this can be changed later on.
What's the fighting like? Well, to keep it brief, the fighting in Kotor is done pretty simple. Once you spot an enemy you have a cache to put your attack rolls into. Your character will perform whatever you tell him/her to do and will eventually kill the enemy (or they'll kill you)depending on your stats and skills and how they compare to the enemies stats and skills. Your allies in the group work the same way. You can only have 3 people in your party (your personal character and 2 others). If you should happen to forget to assign commands during a fight, don't worry. There are scripts you can bind to your character that tells them what to do in a fight. For example, you can have a guy be a ''grenadier'' if there's no friendly units in range. Or for a Jedi companion, you can assign him/her to use force powers by default when need be. These only apply when you have not commanded them on your own though, and it actually comes in quite handy. Also, if you or an ally are killed during battle, you don't necessarily lose. As long as one of your party members survives the fight, your other characters will come back and you can heal them. It is only when all of your party members die out that you have to reload.
There are also plenty of locales to visit. There are about 6 to 7 different planets to visit, even more if you include some other locales that aren't as big.
The rest of the game is pretty common amongst most RPGs. There's plenty of side quests to go on, ''fetch quests,'' and what not. There are lots of puzzles to figure out in the game, and did I mention there are multiple paths? Yes, you can solve puzzles and complete quests in multiple ways in most cases. And a lot of the times they will alter depending on whether you are light side or dark side, or even if you're a male or female in some cases. Even if the puzzle is simply through dialogue with an NPC, there are multiple ways.
Speaking of the dialogue, everything is done in voice over. There are tons of dialogue, and each and every line is spoken through voice over, and there are subtitles too. Even the alien races, like Wookies and Rodians, speak in their StarWars native language, and you have to read the subtitles. It's still a very nice touch to the game.
Like in most RPG's, there are mini games and Kotor is no exception. In Kotor you can drive in ''Swoop Races'' which means you can drive a speeder like car to try and beat a record time. You can either do this for fun or to make more money. Another mini game is something called Pazaak. This is basically Black Jack. That is seriously what Pazaak pretty much is. Another mini game is a dueling arena, but I think that only takes place on one of the planets. Another mini game that you are sometimes forced to play is sitting in the gunner seat of your space ship (the Ebon Hawk) and shoot down Sith fighter pilots. This mini game is really easy and almost kind of annoying when you are forced to play it.
And what's an RPG with out the massive amounts of items, armor, and weapons? Kotor has tons of items to collect. There are a handful of different swords and blasters, but once you get your lightsaber in the game, you won't care about wielding anything else for your own personal character. At a workbench, you can upgrade your lightsaber, armors, weapons, and blasters to further enhance their stats.
Leveling up is done the same way as it is in any RPG basically. You also have a handful of skill points each time you level up, plenty of feats, and plenty of force powers and abilities.
The gameplay of Kotor is so much fun, and so in depth, that I feel like I'm leaving something out almost. This really is just one of the best RPG's I've played, and you don't necessarily have to be a StarWars fan to like it.
Not only is the story, gameplay, and characters original, but so is the music, which actually greatly surprised me. Usually in just about every dang StarWars game, it's the same old music you hear over and over again in each movie and each game based off the movies. And while the music certainly isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, it sometimes grows old when that's all you hear in the games. Well, Kotor proves otherwise. While certainly containing all those familiar musical pieces that we all know and love, it also has a lot of original music as well - and it really fits with the mood. The music truly enhances the feel of the game and it sounds really awesome. It sounds like it really does belong in the movies.
And like I said earlier, the dialogue is all done in voice overs, and the voice acting for every character is done marvelously.
Beautiful. Simply beautiful. I cannot stress this enough. The graphics in this game are remarkable if you have the system requirements. I honestly don't know what more I can say about the graphics. There aren't any ''falling through floors'' or getting stuck in walls or bad framerate problems (if you have the proper specs). Its wonderful.
At first it might take some getting used to, but otherwise flawless.
The game has two separate endings - light side ending and dark side ending. So the endings alone merit this game worthy of playthrough at least twice. You can even go further to say that you could easily play this game through 4 times, twice as a male jedi once on light and once on dark, and twice as a female, once on light and once on dark. With so many different options to play the game, there's no reason why you wouldn't want to play the game through more than once. It's really addicting and a fun experience.
Even though I am more than willing to give this game a 10/10, it does have a few drawbacks, mostly dealing with technical issues. When the game first released it had a few bugs that were pretty bad. However, Bioware has since released a few patches to fix the bugs and further enhance the gameplay. Also, the game takes up a lot of your hard drive space (4 gigs) and the game requires you to have proper updated requirements in processor speed and video cards. For some people this might be a problem, but I'm not going to hold the game back simply because it requires you to have good specs.
With that said, I am aware of a minor difference between PC and Xbox versions. There are a couple new lightsaber crystals and colors available in the PC version as well as a few new items.
The game clocks in at roughly 40 to 50 hours if you do all of the side quests and what not. There is so much to do in Kotor, and the game is just incredible. Definitely buy this game - it is truly fantastic.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 02/09/04
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