Decade Old Games – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003)

It’s easy to focus on the newest shiny consoles and games, but there’s plenty of merit in old games too! Decade Old Games will look to dig up and polish up some of these gems to see how they’re holding up!

Star Wars content is always pretty popular, be it Lego, films or ice cube trays, sticking that Star Wars logo on it will help give it some kind of success – games are no different. Part of the lasting draw of Star Wars is the quality and depth of the story and universe which has built up around it. For that reason, a role playing game such as we have here should prove no exception. With the recent announcement of the new Star Wars spin-offs coming up, I thought now would be a good time to take a look back at previous games.

How was it received at the time?

Knight of the Old Republic (or KOTOR for short) was released in 2003 and received incredibly well. Critics loved it, gamers loved it and it sold well as a result. It wasn’t long before a sequel was announced and promptly released. The imaginatively title KOTOR 2 (there’s a subtitle too, but who the hell cares) was developed along similar lines by Obsidian and also turned out to be a license to print money.

How does it hold up?

In terms of story, not a whole lot comes close to KOTOR. The good folk at BioWare poured a good portion of time into realising the story written by Drew Karpyshyn who has since gone on to write a few Star Wars books, which should give you an idea of the quality of script he produced here. The characters are what makes this game and you will have an opinion, positive or otherwise, about all of them. The core of this game is about relationships and in those stakes this title has few peers.

Star Wars: KOTOR Overview

Fight!
Fight!

In Knights of the Old Republic, As with all role playing games, you will progress your character as you move through the game. Now, you’re a Force user whether you like it or not, but what type of Force user you are is up to you. Once you’ve chosen whether you would rather be a bad-ass with a lightsaber or Force powers, how you shape your character is up to you. Your choices will determine whether you go down the light side or the dark and it is this which shapes the personalities around you and, ultimately, how your game pans out. It’s well done and definitely allows you to replay the game a few times without getting bored.

Graphics

Someone clearly spent a lot of time on facial animations and they’re of a decent standard. It’s important in a game such as this that the characters feel ‘human’, so if this weren’t adequate it would have fallen at the first hurdle. Otherwise, the graphics are fine and roughly on par with what you would expect from a game of this age. They are good enough that you don’t notice errors too often and the game is helped by the fact that – while there is plenty to explore – the environments aren’t exactly unlimited.

Story

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the story here is amazing. After the initial ‘training’ level the action takes places from your base, the Ebon Hawk. The ship becomes like a another character and it’s a testament to the story telling and script writing that this comes across so well. Each of the characters has a back story, which you will delve into, and some of them will react to you based on how you treat them and the people around you.

GameplayThe cover art

The combat is based around a turn based/live action model which some people will like and some people won’t. When trouble approaches, the game will pause and give you options. If you choose nothing, the enemy will chip away at you while you stand there and take it. There is no shoot key, you simply queue up your actions. Personally I think that it works well, offering something of a tactical approach to fights. It gives you the chance to think about the best way to deploy your lightsaber/Force powers most effectively given the situation.

Combat is just one action which generates skill points, allowing you to level up. The levelling is great with some super-cool I-want-it-now type power/ability always just around the corner. Once you are given the choice to specialise, things get really cool. It’s the sort of system which has since been transplanted into the Mass Effect series (it is the same developer after all) and Mass Effect sold like extremely hot cakes. You might have heard of it.

Where is it now?

Well, since the sequel it’s all gone a little quiet on the KOTOR front. The Star Wars franchise has been bought up by Disney – for better or worse – and EA have been given rights to develop the games. While they have teased an exceptionally cool trailer for a new entry into the outrageously good fun Battlefront series, no other details have been forthcoming. It would seem it’s a game of wait and see. I suspect they’ll be more waiting than seeing, unfortunately.

Jedi wear pajamas too
Jedi wear pajamas too

I want it! Where can I get it?

I don’t blame you! If you’re Xbox inclined, eBay is going to be your best bet, although there is probably at least one copy in every GAME you walk into. It’s backwards compatible so will work on your 360, but best not try in on your Xbox One just yet

PC owners rejoice! As of a few years ago, KOTOR is available on Steam for just £7. Or you could wait until their next sale and buy the entire BioWare collection for 85p, or whatever crazy price they plump for.

If you’re tablet (read: iPad) inclined, there’s a recently released version for you too! It’s also £7, which seems a little steep, but by all accounts is a good, faithful version of the original. It also works well on mobile, larger Androids specifically, and is available in the Google Play store.


 

James Oliver

I have a keen interest in anything from the original Star Wars trilogy through to the Star Wars Expanded Universe – as well as everything that encompasses. Mostly interested in things which fly or make noise (ideally both), I like playing with new gadgets and buying phones on a whim.