Product Type: Activision Xbox games
Newest Review: ... meaning you choose one of several varying default characters. As soon as you're done tweaking your main guy, you're whisked stra... more
Member Name: AverageJoseph
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox)
Date: 24/03/12, updated on 24/03/12 (11 review reads)
Advantages: Story, Characters, Soundtrack, Dialogue
Disadvantages: Dated Graphics
In 2003, I first greeted Star Wars:Knights of the Old Republic with half hearted disdain, as my childhood friend from school tried to shift what was clearly a game he did not care for, in exchange for a tenner. His hyped description was about how great it was to wield lightsabres, yet his apparent reason for selling it was that he couldn't acquire said lightsabre in his minimal gaming experience. Soon enough he wore me down and I had a new xbox game, an empty wallet and a sense of disgust that I had paid for something Star Wars related. Its not that I hated SW, it was more of a disinterest, the first 3 films were 'too old' for me, fresh into my teenage years and the 2 'newer' ones had JarJar Binks - enough said. In retrospect I don't know what it was that possessed me to play the game in the first place, perhaps boredom or just getting the most for my money, either way, looking back, I am very glad I did as it was one of the best gaming experiences I could hope for on the Xbox.
KOTOR has all the classic role playing elements you could hope for straight off the bat - Customising your very own character and choosing classes, levelling up stats and hand picking skills & feats. Considering the scale of the game (and its age) the customisation is limited when it comes to appearance, meaning you choose one of several varying default characters. As soon as you're done tweaking your main guy, you're whisked straight into a desperate battle - an attack on the Republic space ship the Endar Spire - of which you must fight your way through numerous Sith troops, whilst the game neatly waves you through a tutorial of all the battle basics. Before the ship gets completely obliterated, you manage to escape via the last life-pod thanks to the aid of your first companion, Carth Onasi, a loyal, experienced, handy with a blaster, Republic man with trust issues (and love interest for the female gamers). Some brief but graphically fantastic FMV's of the ship exploding and life-pods landing show a nice insight as to what the movie like videos have in store for you. Soon enough your player awakens on the hustling bustling planet of Tarris, in search of the mysterious and powerful jedi Bastilla, another love interest.
Thats as vivid as I'll get for describing the storyline, but be assured that there are far more characters to make your acquaintance, planets to roam, adventures to be had. Actual gameplay consists of a 3rd person view (behind the player) running all over the spectacularly designed environments. The hi-tech utopia of Tarris, the sand storm world of tatooine, ancient relic ridden Sith planet Korriban, Jedi academy farm world of Dantooine, an Atlantis-like ocean world of Manaan and the wild swampy depths of Kashyyyk. All just begging to be scoured in search of an ancient device known as the 'Star Forge'. Each planet is distinctly unique and offers rich subplots and different avenues to approach. To make them even more memorable, composer Jeremy Soule, produces an exquisite, full orchestral soundtrack to go with your exploration (some of the battle music can get repetitive though). I've thrown quite a few Star Wars names and such around so far and if you aren't overly familiar with the franchise, I hope you aren't put off because inside all the weirdly spelt and pronounced fiction, lies a hotbed of interesting, interactable, recruitable characters. People try to sell you their 'wares', burden you with their plight, beg for your assistance and cause all sorts of ruckus to distract you from the sometimes too serious main plot.
Companions also differ in personalities and even species, with wookies, droids and twi'leks included. All of whom have vast side quests and conversation paths that can keep you coming back for more play-throughs. The games method of communication and dialogue were only one of the reasons the game garnered so much success and awards. Your character is met with numerous choices to select, offering up words of encouragement from light side players, selfish and violent phrases from dark siders, but mostly neutral options to worm out information and personalise to your own style. The battle system is a varient of turn based fighting as players choose to home in on targets, choose one of many upgradable physical attacks, jedi powers or class specials, then hope for a hit and lots of damage or effect. (the moves rely on a set algorithm involving player stats - strength providing more damage, dexterity for speed and hit rate, constitution for defence etc). Players can also find or purchase hundreds of different weapons and armours, to customise even further by merging modifiers for extra damage or protection - the colour of lightsabres can be altered, along with the type of crystal used.
The story and gameplay were so addictive and playable that I could completely overlook the fact it was, what I thought a nerdy franchise (it still is) and end up embracing it. Don't be fooled though, the game has absolutely nothing to do with any of the events in the Star Wars films, it is only set in the same environment. It all seems to come down to choice - choose your personality, clothes, fighting style, friends, journey.. and end up in an outrageously epic struggle to determine the fate of the galaxy ..pause for effect..
..and I'm glad my friend ended up missing out on one of the best games available on Xbox, because it meant that I didn't..
Summary: Worthy Award Winner