Review by Eegah2004

Reviewed: 07/13/04

Bioware is not mediocre. People who give KOTOR 3/10 are.

While it's debatable whether Neverwinter Nights, Bioware's last product, is up to scratch, Knights of the Old Republic is a truly amazing role-playing game. Bioware truly learnt from the failings of NWN, and produced pure gaming gold. Believe the hype and critics when they say that KOTOR deserves game of the year. In fact it's the only truly remarkable RPG of 2003. It just angers me when Diablo 2 fanboys bash this game because "OMG it sux cuz because u talk to ppl and it gimme headache!!"

First of all KOTOR is a ROLE-playing game, not a ROLL playing game (Diablo 2 comes to mind). You actually converse with characters via dialogues (eg 1. Can I ask you how do I solve the quest? 2. Nothing now, I need to go), not Diablo's boring 'Talk, Trade, Cancel' system. Also different characters have different attitudes towards you, and your chosen response varies. So you can role-play, and act evil to NPCs by telling them to get lost, or be good and sweet talk to them. You can even give skills to enhance your dialogue responses, so you can persuade, intimidate, or bluff for better info, or even items. There is no right or wrong dialogues, so no dialogue would end the game. You should have a clue that no joinable NPC will leave you because of a 'wrong' selection, and if you don't want to read responses, skip them. If you think this is a 'guess the best answer' game or consistently worry about losing opportunities for the character joining you or losing cool items, you are playing the wrong game.

Another thing I loved about KOTOR is the ability to customize your playing style. You can switch between turn based and real time game play via a simple auto-pausing system, so that whether you wanted to game to pause when you see an enemy, is all up to you. If you don't like it, turn it off. There are flashing indicators when the game is paused, and circles around interactable NPCs, enemies, containers etc. The game is played via a 3rd person perspective, with keyboard for movement. When you click on enemies, the characters will continue to attack it and other enemies. This is not a reflex testing game, where who can click the mouse the fastest wins.

At the start of the game, you can actually customize your character, by selecting his/her appearance, class, attributes, skills, name etc. The facial models look absolutely stunning, like Final Fantasy or a 3D shooter game, especially on my GeForce FX (check out the reflections of HK-47). Not only you, but also most NPCs have their unique facial expressions, and their heads actually moves, winks etc.

The story and quests of KOTOR put the SW prequels to shame. I won't spoil anything here, but just play the game to find out KOTOR's rich story of love and betrayal, with different endings. The quests are well designed, with optional quests which you don't have to do, and good and evil alignment based quests, which ultimately affect your character and the ending. Quests are recorded with detailed info, and actually have relevance to the plot. There is a detailed map with markers to give you directions, which you can browse through. There are not many plain 'kill monster A' or 'fetch item B' quests, but ones with different ways of playing through, such as, good guy A wants you to kill evil guy B, but later you find out the real evil one is actually guy A. Would you continue the quest as planned, or backstab guy A? This is what role-playing should be: ability to affect the plot and story. Could you overthrow Diablo and run your own evil empire in Diablo 2? No!!

The gameplay interface is well designed, and it's easy to browse through maps, quests, items etc, if you can tolerate KOTOR's odd scrolling inventry system. Leveling up is also easy; you just simply assign attributes and a progressive skills and Forcepowers system, which encourages balance, instead of the mediocre, unbalanced skills tree of Diablo 2.

The graphics and sounds in this game are amazing, especially if you have the latest video and sound cards. You can see the beautiful backgrounds of each planet, complete eye candy like flying ships and robots, and grass. The Forcepower, lightsaber, explosion and blaster animations are flowing with particles. If it runs too slowly, change the options and tweak your video card; it works for me. The sounds are also amazing, especially with John Williams's soundtrack. There are little bugs, crashes etc, but with the latest patch, they are all eliminated. I'm sick of people hating the game because it won't work on their crappy Voodoos and Pentium 2s.

KOTOR is truly an amazing role-playing game from the masters at Bioware, who are masters both at making and selling award material games, unlike hyped and overrated games like Blizzard's Diablo 2. It's tiring to see the occasional Diablo fanboy who only plays for 10 minutes, looks specifically for its bad points, and bash it because "OMG it sux cuz its not made by Blizzard!!" Other than that, well done to Bioware for another gaming gem, this game deserves a cookie.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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