Review by Jules Rules

"The best Star Wars game ever."

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was originally released on the Xbox back in 2003. Due to its success, it was no surprise that the game was later placed onto the PC. An RPG, Star Wars, on the PC -- what more could you ask for? The game was developed by BioWare, the company that have also worked on successful role-playing games such as Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights. Will you go to the light side or the dark side? Read on in my review of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

GRAPHICS
Being a PC game, the quality of your machine will of course lead to better results. If you have the latest computer out there, you wouldn't complain about how the game looks as it looks up-to-par with the rest of 2003's games. As it's a big game RPG game, there are quite a fair amount of glitches here and there and some areas where the graphics won't look too good. A fair example of this is when a certain part of the Talis level loaded and you get brief lag at the beginning before it fully loads.

This is not taking anything away from the actual detail of the game, mind you. Each planet in the game is very well detailed whether it be the Dune Sea of Tatooine, the open fields of Dantooine, or the deep jungles of Kashyyyk, the Wookiee homeland. It simply feels like you're in the world of Star Wars due to the visuals of the planets. A great example of graphical effects has to be when you enter the 'Shadowlands' of the Kashyyyk homeland. Ground fog sweeps at the floor, swaying trees breeze by you -- it's just amazing. Not to mention you'll see a lot of hairy Wookiees down there! Then of course you have the great effects during battle; lightsabers clashing together, sparks flying all over or a force of lightning. It's wonderful.

Character details are also very well laid out. As it's the Star Wars universe, you have a lot of different races and species to talk to. Wookiees, Twi'leks, Humans, Droids, just to name a few. Every single creature looks fantastic and as you would expect (ie. They don't look differ from the Star Wars nature). BioWare have done a great job on the graphics and you will not be disappointed in the result.

SOUND/AUDIO
I think it's justified to start with one of many factors that made the Star Wars saga so incredible: the music. In KOTOR, this is no different. Pieces of music from the original movies are briefly included in this game, but mainly the music has been composed just for KOTOR. You may be thinking; 'I don't want no cheap rip-offs of the original music', but let me tell you, the new music in KOTOR fits perfectly well and you will be pleased at how Jeremy Soule (the composer) has done it.

As for sound effects, there can be no complaints here either -- everything tunes in accordingly. Ignite your lightsaber and it will sound exactly like in the films, deflate it and once again, it will be authentic. Authentic is the word to use for other weapons such as blasters and even basic blades (which you actually start the game with). Every Star Wars fan recognizes the sound of the blasters firing, and it sounds exactly the same in KOTOR. The SFX are top-notch.

Onto the main part -- the voice acting. Many people share their positives and negatives when it comes down to the voice acting. I for one agree. KOTOR has some of the best voice acting featured in a video game, as there are many different species' and a wide range of accents. Sadly it's let down by the repetition of the alien languages. Of course this is translated at the bottom of your screen, but they speak one sentence different to the next, but then for the next after that go back to the first sentence. They have about two different dialogues for each different race that doesn't speak English, which wouldn't please too many people as it seems rushed in that effect. But saying that, the voice acting for all of the English-speaking characters is excellent -- each character's voice fits that character and you won't degrade this. Just.. the alien languages could of been improved.

GAMEPLAY
No doubt the Gameplay is what makes a role-playing game so incredible. KOTOR is no different. You start the game by creating your own character. It's pretty limited, but what you do is choose your character's face and gender, and then his/her class (Soldier, Scoundrel, etc). After that, you can customize your character by adding points to his/her stats, which range from certain things such as computer skill, to repairing certain things, to basic power. These will increase each time you gain a level up during the game by acquiring XP after battles. Then it's onto picking your character's name (where you can even choose a random, Star Wars-like name) and then you're off into the game.

Being honest, you may be pretty confused when the game first starts. Basically, you see your created character sleeping on a bed and then your ship which you're on, the Endar Spire, is attacked by the Sith. This is when you're introduced to the battling system, but at first it's pretty dull. You will basically have a simple blaster and a blade, nothing special, and your enemies will be weak. You will be mostly pondering when you will receive your lightsaber and get into the real Jedi vs. Sith battles.

Also introduced in the beginning are the quests. Basically, you have a list of quests that need completing (like, objectives) and these will all be listed in one of your menus, as will your completed quests. At the beginning your quest is just simply getting off the Endar Spire and landing at the nearest planet - Talis. I really love the quests feature because you will never get stuck in the game as you are always aware what you need to do and how. In most role-playing games, you will end up getting stuck as you are not aware of what to do next, but not in KOTOR.

I'm sure you're all aware of the next feature I will talk about -- the light and dark sides to the game. KOTOR is well known because it lets you choose which side you bat for. Will you be a typical Jedi, protecting and serving people, or a ruthless Sith where teachings don't mean anything to you and you kill any in your way? If you fall to the Dark side, you will notice that your appearance has changed for the darker good (pale face, evil eyes, etc), which is really cool. Your force powers are also determined by the side in which you fight for. The Jedi hold 'good' powers such as heal and protect, whereas the Sith occupy evil and menacing powers such as lightning and force choke. What can be more satisfying than being attacked by a group of thugs, only to use force push and explode them away. At that point you're a full-fledged Jedi and will enjoy the game so much. Force powers can also be used in dialogue. Every fan of Star Wars knows that you can trick the "weak minded" by making them see things your way. You also have this option when you chat to people in the game, but beware -- it doesn't work on all minds, and you could find yourself in an awkward position if you do it wrongfully.

Sadly, with all the positives, comes a negative at some point. Many people have complained at the length of the game being too short. No matter how long it takes for you to complete KOTOR, I can guarantee that you will have one of the best video game experiences of your entire life, especially if you're a Star Wars fan, too. As far as I see it, the people who complain it is too short don't bother to complete all the sidequests. No worries about the length for me.

Controls wise, the game isn't stressful at all. You have your typical WASD control system. At first manouvering your character around can prove a bit tricky, but it won't be long until you get the grips with it. Most RPGs contain quite a complex control scheme but not KOTOR, basically it's just the WASD format and the mouse. Overall, the Gameplay in KOTOR is what makes the KOTOR sun shine bright -- it truly is fantastic. If you give a Star Wars fan a computer, KOTOR, keyboard and a mouse, alone in a dark room, no doubt they will be chuffed.

STORY
It is four thousand years before the Galactic Empire and hundreds of Jedi Knights have fallen in battle against the Ruthless Sith. You are the last hope of the Jedi Order. Can you master the awesome power of the Force on your quest to save the Republic from extinction? Or will you fall to the lure of the dark side? Hero or villain, saviour or conquerer, you alone will determine the entire destiny of the Galaxy. A superb Star Wars story, backed up with a major twist, too (Please make sure the story isn't spoiled for you). Two Sith Lords, Malak and Revan, are basically trying to conquer the Galaxy and you need to stop them.

REPLAYABILITY
I'm tired of hearing people claim that the game is too short. Maybe the game is just too addictive that they play it nonstop and before they know it, they've finished it, claiming it was too short? That's how KOTOR is; once you pop it in, you just can't stop playing it as you're brought in like a tractor beam due to the immense story and compelling gameplay. If you've finished it once with the Light side, go and play it again but this time with the Dark side. You won't complete KOTOR once, that's for sure.

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In full summary, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is one of the best RPG games out on the PC at present. This is an awesome treat for Star Wars and/or RPG fans. If you're both, I can't see what you're waiting for as you need to get it right now. As it's set 4,000 years before the Galactic Empire, the game is like some sort of history lesson to Star Wars fan and what you absolutely require in your PC games collection. The graphics, the sound, the gameplay -- it is all too awesome. On top of that, you actually feel like a Jedi when waving your lightsaber around and applying your force powers. A true must have.
Overall: 9/10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/12/05


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