Star Wars: Knights of the Uplifted Expectations

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

image

It's difficult to define a game that sits so highly on everyone's "You're doing it right" lists. BioWare's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (henceforth KotOR) is the game that has day in, and day out, set the bar for what Star Wars games should strive to achieve. Is is a fair assessment, though? Or is nostalgia really more powerful than factuality?

KotOR is a turn-based RPG based on the tabletop style of RPG found in games like White Wolf and Dungeons and Dragons. The game's damage, stats, skills, and perks were all based off of this system, and plays a lot like a game you would play in a basement, chugging down soda and enjoying some simple form of snacking, just without the absurd dialog or face-to-face friendships.

The gameplay itself feels not too unlike some other style of quasi-action RPG, just with a stronger emphasis on incredibly variable damage, and takes several strides away from the strange numbers that come with pen-and-paper gaming, yet keeps so many of them. Unlike the pen-and-paper and over-watching DM style, the player could do lots of entertaining things like attempting to pick the same lock several times in a row.

Heads up!

Combat itself was less interesting, as there was a smart strategy, and every other strategy. Just about everyone I knew understood. The winning strategy was Dual Weild > Force Speed > Flurry. No matter how you tried to plan your hand, you would find that the strongest melee technique was always Dual-Speed-Flurry.

If you were to go attack mage, as it were, you were pretty much constricted to Dark Side powers and the dark-sided alignments. Which really cut your options down if you wanted to increase the damage and reduce the cost of your most vital skills. Logically, the game didn't do a bang-up job of encouraging the player to pick an alignment except by which stimulus they wanted to address. If you wanted good stat perks, go Light Side. If you wanted good skill perks, go Dark Side.

Outside of that, the story was simultaneously linear and non-linear. You had a small handful of planets to explore in any order the player chooses, but there were only a very select few ways of navigating the length of the planets, and going through the entirety of a planet followed a linear short-story through that specific planet, all leading to the end of the story, which would be infinitely too spoiler-intense to really cover.

The short of it is seeking items that will lead to the understanding of an unknown weapon or object that was possibly changing the face of the war you found yourself in. During your misadventure, you are joined by a famous Jedi, a celebrated soldier, and a handful of other misfits, soldiers, warriors, and even a handful of droids.

How many KotOR vets first noticed he's not dual-wielding?

The writing itself is very well done, helping the player get a lot of depth out of the entire cast of characters, from the mostly-non-important minor characters to the main characters all displaying a bountiful host of character perks and flaws, weaknesses and strengths, and very sufficient emotions depth. All the while, it doesn't often feel stale, forced, or demanded to make the story progress. Which is really a feather in BioWare's hat, as forced romance and cheesy dialog very frequently runs rampant in anything with the letters "S, T, A, R, or W" in the title arranged in that very special yet familiar pattern.

Unlike the overall story and sub-character depth, your character has three settings. Obviously noble Light Side, "Eh, maybe later" Neutral, and "Steal your shoes to sell them back to you" Dark Side. Frankly, no matter how you try to give dialog the run-around, you always boil back down to those options. Inconvenience yourself or your wallet to help others, pretend the only activity is ignoring passers-by and servicing your own quest, or by taking careful note of everyone in the room, and how to effectively screw them from the front, sides, back, or at 500 yards with a Blaster Rifle.

The problem with this is it doesn't really give your character much depth. You can be evil, you can be good, or you can be apathetic. There's not "partly good" or "partly bad" or "I'm doing this for some reason other than pure benevolence/malevolence." It's all white or black.

That being said, some of the dialog is fantastic in all its' coin-face attributes. Some Dark Side dialog is downright hilarious, some of the light side so humorously dark while still being blanched-white, and some of the neutral options being such well-placed jokes and dialog options. It really makes me feel bad when I see the rest of the dialog options being so obviously slanted.

The sound itself isn't really all that spectacular, and hardly stands out in my mind. Usually when done playing the game, I hardly remember the sounds coming from my speakers after the game has turned off. So, not a lot to say here, so I'm going to leave it spartan. Blasters sound like blasters, lightsabers sound just like lightsabers, and the voice acting isn't stiff enough to make me say anything to the contrary, but not stellar enough to really write home about.

No! Do not tempt me!

Graphics are another place where the "Don't write home" option comes up. As old as the game is now, the graphics look partly dated and weren't really all that demanding or strong for their time either. Regardless, they do complete the look and atmosphere, and certainly get the message across, and that's all I really need them to do. It does leave a little room to complain about the occasional lack of atmosphere, but otherwise gives you what you need, and not much else. Great for efficiency, but bad for the aesthetic junkie.

Final Verdict

Buy It. There have been a lot of nits to pick about this game, but this review has been seemingly harsh because I focused on those. If you look past all the BS and little complaints, you'll see I had no issues with any major aspects of gameplay. Nothing was bad enough to be a deal-breaker, and everything was good enough to wax poetic about otherwise. The preamble was not misplaced. This game did a lot of good where good was to be done, and left very little major issues to complain about. Glitches did occasionally find a home within the walls, but otherwise, the game was a fantastic story driven space-opera fest with lots of customization and room to really paint the town a blue, grey, or red.

Not always the BEST GAME EVAR it's painted to be, but is a hilariously good contender for the title of "Best RPG of Recent History." There's a lot to like about this game, and it's a must-play for both Star Wars fans, and RPG Buffs. Just, excuse the hiccups, unless you want to be too caught up in the pointless to enjoy the important.

EDIT
Whoops, forgot the:

Very nice. Very nice indeed. I too would recommend this game, I liked it, but gave up at about the twenty billionth time I just got lost on that damn water planet.

Although, I actually enjoyed the rest of the game very much, things just became so very repetitive.

And, while game employs a black 'n' white attitude as to choosing your side, you can't really step back from it. Because it takes so long to become evil, or good, it takes even longer to revert to the other option. You pretty much make your bed, and then are gaffer taped to it.

Pretty good Review!
I only ever played the sequel, and what you said pretty much all rings true there too.

Both games hooked me when I played them. Overall I tend to agree. The game is in between good and great, leaning heavily towards great but falling 0.00000001 short.

You mean Insanity/Stasis > dual-wield > Force Speed > Flurry.

The double saber is usually better than two sabers unless you try to max out crits, though.

-- Alex

A KotOR review without a single mention of HK47? For shame ClassyBoy.

Well, I liked the review, but I didn't like the game.

Knights of the Old Republic was exactly what the Star Wars universe needed. The prequal trilogy was a blight on the franchise, The Force Unleased was not only a bad game but far too hyped, and let's face it- No one I know reads the New Jedi Order novels.

KOTOR is great because it allows us to access the Star Wars galaxy in the broadfer sense, not getting caught up in all the angst of Anakin Skywalker and Son. I actually found myself liking Bastila, Carth, Canderous, Jolee, and HK47 just as much as Luke, Leah, Han, Darth Vader, and Lando. Bastila in particular was characterized and performed perfectly.

And the plot twist in KOTOR definitely rivals the "I am your father." moment of The Empire Strikes Back.

KOTOR 2 offered more possibilites than the original, but its story was strained from the very beginning. The original KOTOR was a far better experience.

Bioware is currently working on Dragon Age: Origins, but there are rumors of a KOTOR 3 in the works. If they can build on the gameplay advancements of KOTOR 2, but capture the spirit of the original, we may have the ultimate Star Wars game on our hands.

In the end, though, the original Knights of the Old Republic will always be one of the greatest games I've ever played.

Undead Dragon King:

Bioware is currently working on Dragon Age: Origins, but there are rumors of a KOTOR 3 in the works. If they can build on the gameplay advancements of KOTOR 2, but capture the spirit of the original, we may have the ultimate Star Wars game on our hands.

Read and weep.

TheGhostOfSin:

Undead Dragon King:

Bioware is currently working on Dragon Age: Origins, but there are rumors of a KOTOR 3 in the works. If they can build on the gameplay advancements of KOTOR 2, but capture the spirit of the original, we may have the ultimate Star Wars game on our hands.

Read and weep.

....Crap. Now I need to get a good WIN emulator for my Mac. I was avoiding it for so long...

.....

*Slaps self. Realizes that this is not a horrible nightmare*

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

How could BioWare backstab the KOTOR universe?!?

This will sink the whole damn franchise the only way LucasArts can can commit franchisicide. I would have thought that even that idiot George Lucas would keep KOTOR safe, but nothing is sacred to him!!

check out http://swtor.com/ and don't judge before the hammer falls.
It's Bioware.
It's got potential.
Maybe.

I hate to be a spoil-sport, gents, but I think you've missed the point. No offense, but could we rail this sucker at least a little bit back on topic?

Alright, I'll steer things back on course. Very nice review, covered all the bases and had some very witty moments. Honestly, if you haven't written an official review for the escapist yet, I'd suggest signing up.

Just a note: Dual weild + Speed + Flurry is shit compared to dual perfectly upgraded pistols + Speed + Rapid shot. The upgrades for guns are just too powerful and too easy to make. And don't give me the "what about the infinite lightsaber crystal stacking glitch" stuff because then you might as well just go evil and use the Super Hanhaar glitch to have 200 something intelligece and 100 something strength.

Trust me, I've played this game to death. On another correcting note, early in the game single weilding, and perhaps not flurrying at all, is more effective than dual weilding melee because you miss so much (later in the game, you rarely ever miss, though.)

I never was able to beat it without a third-party save modifier that gave me better weapons. [aka Cheating].

milskidasith:
Just a note: Dual weild + Speed + Flurry is shit compared to dual perfectly upgraded pistols + Speed + Rapid shot. The upgrades for guns are just too powerful and too easy to make. And don't give me the "what about the infinite lightsaber crystal stacking glitch" stuff because then you might as well just go evil and use the Super Hanhaar glitch to have 200 something intelligece and 100 something strength.

Trust me, I've played this game to death. On another correcting note, early in the game single weilding, and perhaps not flurrying at all, is more effective than dual weilding melee because you miss so much (later in the game, you rarely ever miss, though.)

I'm almost positive that you are talking about KotOR II.

Hanharr wasn't in the first one, and it was also impossible to create your own weapon modifications in it (there were three, I think, for ranged weapons in the original KotOR, and they all had to either be found or purchased.)

In the original game, also, the ranged weapons were very underpowered compared to things like the lightsaber- so, NewClassic was right and the speed/flurry/dual wield is the best combination to go with in the original.

Jamanticus:

milskidasith:
Just a note: Dual weild + Speed + Flurry is shit compared to dual perfectly upgraded pistols + Speed + Rapid shot. The upgrades for guns are just too powerful and too easy to make. And don't give me the "what about the infinite lightsaber crystal stacking glitch" stuff because then you might as well just go evil and use the Super Hanhaar glitch to have 200 something intelligece and 100 something strength.

Trust me, I've played this game to death. On another correcting note, early in the game single weilding, and perhaps not flurrying at all, is more effective than dual weilding melee because you miss so much (later in the game, you rarely ever miss, though.)

I'm almost positive that you are talking about KotOR II.

Hanharr wasn't in the first one, and it was also impossible to create your own weapon modifications in it (there were three, I think, for ranged weapons in the original KotOR, and they all had to either be found or purchased.)

In the original game, also, the ranged weapons were very underpowered compared to things like the lightsaber- so, NewClassic was right and the speed/flurry/dual wield is the best combination to go with in the original.

Err....Ok, nevermind. TC is pretty much right, and I look like an idiot. *flees*

Great review. I only played the second game and I love it. It recently resurfaced so I'm playing it again. However I agree the damage is very variable. I second the recommendation.

I found your review to be quite accurate. Most of the flaws in the game were outlined, and you did a good job of balancing them with the cons. I agree with this review, and recommend buying KOTOR.

 

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked