Review by DarthMuffin

"The Best Star Wars Game, RPG, and perhaps PC Game Ever Made"

Introduction

Star Wars : Knights of the Old Republic is a role playing game made by the famous company, BioWare corporation. BioWare is renowned for it's excellent RPG games, such as the famous Baldur's Gate Saga and NeverWinter Nights. The Infinity Engine (used for Baldur's Gate) was also used by Black Isle to make yet another popular title, Ice Wind Dale.

As you can see, games made by BioWare are usually really good and popular. Knights of the Old Republic is no exception.

Yes, it's based on Star Wars. Most people like the Star Wars universe. Of course Episode I : The Phantom Menace wasn't the best movie ever, but many, many people enjoy stories of galactic battles and epic lightsaber duels. Again, Knights of the Old Republic has it all.

Yes, I did give the game a 10. And yes, I do think I know what I'm talking about. Read on, and you'll probably understand why this game is so popular.

Gameplay 9

BioWare stated several times that Knights of the Old Republic used a "highly modified version of the Aurora Engine". In case you don't know, the Aurora Engine was the one used to make NeverWinter Nights. When you're playing the game, it doesn't look at all like NeverWinter Nights. I can hardly believe that they used the same engine. The basics are probably the same (engine speaking), but this time we have a third person view. Kind of like the Morrowind 3rd person view. For this particular game, it does wonders. When thinking of it, I just can't imagine playing a Star Wars game with a camera like NeverWinter. Anyways.

Knights of the Old Republic is *not* a shooter. Many people think it is, so I just want to make this clear. And it's not a clicking fest like Diablo 2 either. Those who are familiar with the Dungeon and Dragons rules should feel right at home with this game. The Star Wars rules are very similar, but they're far from the same. Don't worry, if you don't like DnD, you may like KotOR. Speaking of the rules, I must say they are easy to understand. Actually, the game is made so that you don't have to understand the rules at all. Some people don't like complex games such as Baldur's Gate because they don't understand the rolls, the skill checks et cetera. In Knights of the Old Republic, everything is automatic. The weapons' damage is listed as x-y (like 2-10) instead of the usual dx (such as 1d10), which makes the game easier to follow. Those who do like the complex rules will find that the game is not as complex as Baldur's Gate; that being said, the skill checks are all based on the d20 system, so you can also manually check your rolls (but the computer will never display them as it did in BG and NWN).

When controlling your character, you use the W-A-S-D keys (by default). Your mouse is used to click on the various objects, take items and click on the enemies to attack them. You can also use the very handy hotkeys to quickly use items (such as medical kits and grenades) and force powers.

Speaking of force powers, let me say that they represent the "spells" of the game. To cast them, you use force points, which is similar to the mana system of other games. No spells per day as in DnD games. In fact, you cannot "rest". To recover you hit points, you must either use a medical kit, use a force power or see an NPC that can heal you. This makes the game more challenging, since you can't just rest over and over again after each battle.

The game features six classes : three "civilian" or "normal" classes, and three "Jedi" classes. At the beginning, you can only pick a normal class. Choose between the soldier (your basic fighting class, a DnD fighter), the scout (a fighting class with skills, a DnD Ranger) and the scoundrel (Stealth and Sneak Attacks, your DnD Rogue). As the story goes on, you will be called to train as a Jedi. You must then choose one of the three Jedi classes : pick either the Guardian (the fighting Jedi), the Sentinel (a fighting Jedi with less HPs and Attack Bonus, but with more force powers) or the Consular (all about force powers). It is important to note that all Jedi classes have access to force powers. Some get more (and more force points too), some get less (the Guardian, for example). In any event, your character *will* be able to use a force power in the game at some point. Each Jedi classes also get special abilities : the Guardian will learn Force Jump (more damage to enemies when landing), the Sentinel will get Force Immunity (immunity to various nasty effects) and the consular gets Force Focus, which improves his already awesome force powers.

As in the newer DnD rules, your character will have attributes, which influence his various abilities. Skills are also important in the game, and some of them are really interesting to use, such as computer using which lets you unlock doors, download area maps and even overload terminals to kill enemies. Feats are also included, and they let you perform different attacks. Of notable example the power attack feats and the dual wielding feats.

Why do I give a 9? There is a balancing issue that some people may not like. Even though it only applies to melee fighting classes (Guardian), it's still nasty. What is it? It's about the two main fighting techniques : dual wielding and single weapon. When you dual wield, you get some serious penalties to attack rolls. However, after picking the right feats, those penalties are really small, even if you use two full lightsabers (short lightsabers are also available to further reduce the penalties, kind of like DnD with lighter off hand weapons). The single weapon feats only give small bonuses, and at the end dual wielding is better. Now it may not sound like a huge problem to you, but it's not really nice for movie purists (like me) who like to wield a single saber. Therefore, instead of being an alternative technique, the single weapon is just a way to make your character different. It's only used by Consular's, who don't fight much. In any way, the game is not too difficult, and you can probably beat it with any character you want.

Video 10

The graphics are, in my opinion, excellent. When you put the configuration to maximum, everything is really beautiful. Even with older computers and lower configs, the game is nice. The faces are all animated, the bodies are well done with nice models, and the buildings are great too.

The only downside would be that you need a very powerful computer with one of the best video cards out there to run the game smooth with all the configs to maximum. But as I told you, you don't need to have the maximum settings to fully enjoy the game and the graphics.

Audio 10

All the dialogues have voice overs. The actors are also well chosen, and they fit very well with their characters. The general sound effects are really good, of particular note are the lightsaber sounds.

However, the best aspect is the music. Even though it's really good, Star Wars music can get repetitive if you're a huge fan, and if you play every single Star Wars game available. What they did in Knights of the Old Republic was to create their own music, but they managed to include some "parts" of classic Star Wars music in their tracks. Fans will most likely notice "The Force" and in some parts "Imperial March". The music in Knights of the Old Republic is probably the best I've ever heard for a computer game.

Story 10

The game is set thousands of years before the movies. Therefore, those who didn't like the prequels can't say it's bad before having played the game, and the same goes with the very few people who didn't like the original trilogy.

The story is, in my opinion, awesome. Some people even say that it's better than the prequel story (looking grim for you, George...). There is a turning point, a wonderful scene indeed, that is almost as much as good as the famous Luke/Vader scene of Empire Strikes Back, all proportions kept, of course (i.e. for a computer game, the story (and the scene I was talking about) is spectacular).

Replay Value 9

Some people are let down by the fact that there is no official customization and "modding" community. It would have been great, but it's not a must. Just think of it : of the hundreds of fan made modules for NeverWinter Nights, only a couple are actually worth playing. KotOR's story is already excellent, so stick with that.

Since there are 6 classes, you can create many different characters to get through the game with. The special feats also allow you to make unique characters (you could try a heavy gun wielding Jedi if you want). All in all, the replay value is great. I did not give a 10 because after going through many, many times with every possible characters, you might want to shelve the game for a couple of weeks. It happened to me, but I always enjoy playing it again.

Conclusion

I have played many of the most popular role playing games, including the addicting Diablo I and II, the complex Baldur's Gate games, the IceWind Dale series, the vast Morrowind, NeverWinter Nights and the classic super nintendo Final Fantasy games. I'm also the proud owner of every official expansion pack for those games (yes, I do like RPGs). For the Star Wars fan that I am, Knights of the Old Republic beats them all, except perhaps the Baldur's Gate series. Even there, it's at least equal to BG for me.

For the casual gamer who is not a Star Wars fan, Knights of the Old Republic is one of the best role playing game available. In my opinion, it easily beats everything except for BG.

For the Star Wars fan, this is *the* game. Enough said.
And if you're an RPG fan and a SW fan, then this is just the dream game...

Overall 10


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/02/04


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