Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

by Nixon & Pele

Nixon: What we have here is Canadian game developer here who has made such RPGs as Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights: namely BioWare Corp. based in Edmonton, Alberta. Their latest for the Xbox is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR). LucasArts had decided to contract out to BioWare to be their developer for this game. Good move.

Pele: Think so?

Nixon: Daaaaammmnnnnnn. This is a kick ass game. Seriously.

Pele: I liked the graphics, music, combat style and game play options. Good enough?

Nixon: The number one thing that stands out for me is the combat style. The guys at BioWare describe it as a ‘real-time turn based’ combat system. What that means basically is that we have an advanced ‘dice rolling’ system from classic Dungeons and Dragons style of games where you roll a die and then the Xbox calculates a ton of factors to come up with your attack ratio and then the guys defense ratio. If your score is higher, you hit, if its lower you miss.

Pele: Who cares about that stuff, what I love about it is that your reflexes and ‘aiming’ with the controller doesn’t play a part in combat. You just tell your character what to do and he/she does it!

Nixon: It sounds simple, but its not. Your character is usually in a party of three, when you find an enemy to engage in combat with, the game freezes. You can have a look around – assess the situation and then queue up four moves for each character. Moves include options like throwing a grenade, whipping out your blaster, swords, lightsabers or pulling out some Force actions like ‘Choke’, ‘Lighting’ or ‘Force Push’. What happens next can only be describe as cinematic genius. (You can also turn the pause feature off to gain a more rapid style real time fighting sequence)

Pele: What happens is that each character will then start making the moves you have queued up for them. If two people with lightsabers clash what you are treated to is a totally choreographed fight sequence with back flips, kicks, and dueling action. If one person has a blaster, and one a lightsaber, the Jedi will deflect bolts back on the attacker!

Nixon: Its really the best of both words you can be swinging the camera around the 3D landscape watching your party kick some Sith ass. You can stop the fight at any time and then queue up more actions. Maybe activate a personal shield, use a Medpac, inject yourself with some battle stim or use a character specific move.

Pele: Its not all fighting! The landscapes are really well drawn, when you walk through knee high grass it gently brushes out of your way. There are creatures and effects that add mood and ambiance to every different planet you visit.

Nixon: KOTOR takes place a couple thousand years before Episode 1, so BioWare wasn’t shackled with Han Solo and the crew. They were able to use existing alien species but create their own story lines around the little talked about Sith and Mandalorian Wars.

Pele: And the music! Not just the standard Star Wars score, but new music created by an award-winning composer who also did the music in Morrowind. Plus all of the lines are spoken, all of them. Even when you’re talking to an alien. Subtitles are provided as well.

Nixon: I actually got ‘what are you listening too, that’s really good music’ when talking on the phone while the game was on pause!

Pele: Finally, the ability to ‘choose your own adventure’ in your conversations with everyone on all the planets (there are often 4 or 5 replies that your character can make to a person) allows you to customize your character for ‘Light-side’ or ‘Dark-side’ depending on your actions.

Nixon: So when I offed that guy with my dual lightsabers cause he didn’t pay his debt I gained ‘Dark-side’ points?

Pele: I gave him the money to cover those debts and I got ‘Light-side’ points, so I wouldn’t know.

Nixon: Ohhhhh I offed him good. Sucka.

Nixon: It’s not all sugar though; I do have a couple of criticisms. Small ones. I think upgrading your character through weapons and skills is not done as well as it could be, you have to scroll through a couple screens to see what affect new armour will have on your character. And the upgrades themselves lack depth, after a couple of upgrades the equipment is as good as its going to get – you have to go find new stuff.

Pele: At the start of the game, the missions are quite linear, I can’t explore to the same extent as I did in Morrowind.

Nixon: Well, Morrowind was freakin huge, but as the game progresses the storylines get more open ended and you get a pre-Millennium Falcon style ship to cruise the Galaxy in style and you are able to man the turrets while flying around to blast some Sith.

Pele: Some of the cut scenes at the beginning are long, but they need to set up the storyline. Anyway, sometimes there are no good places to pause/save for 5 – 10 minutes or so.

Nixon: Yeah yeah, sure. Did I tell say you could grab a couple of heavy blasters and go cowboy style? Or a double-ended lightsaber? Or get some dual lightsaber action? You can even strap a flamethrower on your AstroMech droid for god’s sake.

Nixon: So if you like Star Wars, or RPGs or better yet both, this game will own you. If you like neither, well then you should have stopped reading this long ago and gone off to play Tetris or something. As for me I’m going to go rip that lightsaber wielding Mandalorian a new cakehole. 9.5 out of 10

Pele: 5 out of 5 for me!

  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
  • by Nixon & Pele
  • Published on August 1st, 2003
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
July 17th, 2003

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