Review by Layten

"Average RPG. Not much more."


Finally a Star Wars RPG then? Great! Made by BioWare? Even better if you're familiar with BioWare's previous work (Never Winter Nights, Baldurs Gate), you'll know that they know what they're doing when it comes to RPG's. They've got their formula down to a T. But that's just it. It's a formula, and once repeated, gets dreary and dull, so lets just hope that the Star Wars license on this game can help add something to it.

Game play 5

This game uses a very similar engine to Never Winter Nights. The controls are similar; the layout is similar. The whole thing just seems…similar. So how does it play out? Well, you control one of a party of 3. You use the mouse, or keyboard to move around, and you use menus to interact with things, i.e. dialogue boxes. The main aspect of the game is the fighting, which, while fun at first, gets a little repetitive, and you feel as if you're just watching the game rather than playing it. To engage in a fight, you highlight an enemy then select an attack to perform. The character then attacks the enemy. Attacks available to you at the time come from the levelling system, which I'll get to in a minute. Now, the attack is selected and you character(s) perform a pre-recorded attack, always the same. Once you've seen it, you've seen it. That's it. You don't control the characters as much as point them in the right direction. If you've played Never Winter Nights, you'll notice the similarities right away.

Ok, onto the levelling system as previously mentioned. This is probably the best aspect of the game, but is still heavily similar to previous BioWare games, and the actual Dungeons and Dragons board game. Once you've gained the experience required to level up you click your characters portrait on screen, and get the level-up menu. On here you get a few points to distribute on various screens. You can level up to an overall level of 20. Which seems severely limited, but you'll see at the end of the game there no need to be a higher level. Characters can be pretty unique, as there are a lot of skills to distribute, like skill with 2 light sabres as opposed to skills with one, or force choke, like every ones favourite Darth. The good thing about this in-depth levelling system is, most times you play through the game your character will be different, as there are 3 started classes, then 3 Jedi classes, and a lot of skills power and abilities to choose. There's also the option to be good or evil.

This idea sounded excellent to me, but was poorly pulled off, having little effect until the end of the game, and even then you could complete the game with the “evil” ending, even if you'd been good, so this system has very little bearing on the game at all apart from when you're max good/evil, where you gain a bonus depending on what Type of Jedi you are. The best effect of the good/evil system however, is the change in your characters appearance. If you choose to be an evil bastard to people, via not helping someone, or helping him then bribing them, you gain evil points, once sufficiently evil, you character starts to look like he or she has been avoiding the sun, and then loses all pigment entirely. The fullest evil is pretty cool, but unfortunately, there is no change for the good aligned players.

Freedom. I like freedom in RPG games. Freedom to wander off and do whatever I want. Whether it's killing entire towns for no reason, like in Morrowind, or to go and collect a whole bunch of items (like Cards In the Final Fantasy series). This freedom however, does not exist in Star Wars: KOTOR. You're pretty much bound by the story line. The most freedom you get is choosing which order to visit the planets in, on the way to completing the main quest. There are a few none-essential side-quests, but they're not frequent enough, nor do they offer much to the player, bar the Yavin side-quest. You could keep killing monsters for their Skins on Dantooine, but there really is no point. You never really need much gold; you always have enough to buy what you need essentially. So there is basically not much to do in the game bar the main quest. There is a card side-game, which can be fun, but that's about it.

Graphics 8

No complaints here. If you've got a good enough system to whack this bad-boy on full, then you're really in for a treat. The graphics are excellent. Massive worlds, masses of colour and variety, even in the dingy underworlds on the first planet you encounter. Character details are top-notch. Characters look excellent, and facial expressions are good. They've also managed to pull off a convincing Wookie. If you've not got the best graphics card in the world, fear not: the graphics are also excellent when the detail level is scaled down, extra attention has been paid to making the graphics in this game excellent, shame there couldn't be more in the game play. All in all, the graphics in KOTOR are excellent, very well done.

Sound 9

Perfect sound if you've got a good enough card to support it all, and preferably several surround sound speakers. The sound in the game really is as good as it gets. Guns make the authentic Star Wars sound; light sabres make the right noise everything else sounds as it should. The sound is probably the best aspect of the game, for me.

Story 6

The story in the game is pretty good. If you're heavily into the Star Wars story, go on and add 2 onto the score. Without giving anything away, you can expect a huge plot twist, mystery, and excitement. You can get quite into the story if you allow yourself to, but at the same time, and is anything but predictable. The story is the main aspect of the game, as there is not much else to do, so if you don't find yourself immersed in it, you're not really going to enjoy the game.

Replay value 4

Once completed, you'll probably try to play through it again and do all the side-quests, or play as a goodie instead of a baddie etc. Considering the story takes about 10 hours to complete, or less if you rush it, that's not a whole lot for an RPG. I expect more than that out of a FPS. There's no real incentive. There's not much to do, everything's pretty much the same whether you're good or bad, and the only thing you'll get to see is one of the two endings. Not really worth playing for 10 hours to see. There are a lot of things you could do slightly differently, but they don't really have much impact on anything, so at the end of the day you'll be wondering what the point is. I personally played through the game with three different characters, and found it to be pretty similar each time. The biggest difference in playing through will be if you choose a gimped out fighter type Jedi class, or a more thinking mans class, where you need to take a bigger role in the combat, knowing if you go against the odds you'll probably lose, but this isn't pulled off very well.

Conclusion 6

Well…. Average. It's defiantly worth playing at least once, that's for sure, but it's not a great RPG. It's not as addicting as some RPG's, and it isn't as in-depth. It doesn't offer as much of a challenge, or replay ability, and aside from its graphics, doesn't really shine. It offers me nothing new either. Having played previous BioWare games, I get the feeling I've done something similar before. The fact that this game has Star Wars written all over it seems to have some people ignoring the obvious downfalls. If you're really into Star Wars or previous BioWare titles, then you can probably add 2 to the over all score.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 09/20/04

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