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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

LucasArts

 

Developer

BioWare

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

July 2003

 

 

- Addictive and inventive gameplay
- Insanely long
- All the Star Wars goodness
- Superb voice-acting

 

 

- It comes to an end…eventually
- Graphics could have been a tad-bit better

 

 

Review: Bladur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (PC)
Review: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (PC)

Review: Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC)

 

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Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Score: 9.6 / 10

 

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No, this is not an error. Lucasarts has finally decided its time to release Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR), after years of delays. In fact, KOTOR has been in development for so long, that the game made yet another appearance at E3 this year, even after netting the best in show award…in 2001. Yes, the delays have kept gamers away from this much anticipated game for a very long time, leaving gamers with thoughts of KOTOR being an over hyped idea bound for failure, or a complete waste of time. If anything, KOTOR is one of the best games ever produced.

Behind the development was long-time RPG developer Bioware, whose titles before KOTOR live amongst us as some of the most in-depth RPG games on the PC. One of which, Neverwinter Nights, quickly engraved itself in the RPG world as an instant classic. Their next task would not be an easy one, for the Star Wars universe can

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be gruelling and demanding when broken down. From every creature, character, vehicle, and light saber crystal, Bioware's mission was to reproduce all with sheer perfection.

KOTOR is set 4,000 years before Han Solo, Jabba the Hut, Yoda, and other characters seen in the current films. The story takes place during a war between the Sith and Republic, in a battle for

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control of the universe. The commander of the Sith, Darth Malak, is a gaunt and malicious commander who used to be a Jedi for the Republic. Your character starts off aboard a ship during one of Malaks attacks, and is forced to escape from the crumbling craft to save a Jedi master known as Bastila. After crash landing on a nearby planet, Taris, the real journey begins to find Bastila and restore peace in the Republic. Restoring peace is an option, and is not required. Your actions throughout the game will swing you towards either the dark or light side, and affect the possible outcome of the game. Every conversation, person killed, and credit taken will, in someway, change the story in favor of the “evil Sith, or the “peaceful” Republic.

Before starting the game, you must first create your character. There are three different classes: Soldier (strength), Scoundrel (wisdom), and Scout (stealth). Each character class has its unique advantages and disadvantages, however adjusting your strengths can be done through experience points. For example, starting off as a Soldier gives you more power and weapon mastery, but not much of Wisdom and Intellegence. Nonetheless, through experience, every attribute can be adjusted to create a better all-around character. Once finished creating a character, a player portrait and distribution of experience points is done. After that, the long awaited game begins.

Following watching the opening cinematic, I was left in awe at the spectacular graphics and even more astonishing sound. The lights and explosions seen in the cinematic left me expecting the same graphics in-game, due to the immense power of the Xbox. Though not to the potential of Xbox power; the in-game graphics are still very well done. Since the game relies on world exploration, plenty of detail went towards the realism of all objects. From the flying cars overhead to the slight ripples in water, Bioware took advantage of the Xbox power. The character detail is also well done, as for the many people and creatures you come in contact with. With over 10,000 lines of spoken dialogue, every single character is detailed and animated, always having something to say.

 

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Aside from the graphics, the sound of all that dialogue is where the game shines. The voice-acting is amazingly conducted, with a list of underrated actors who know how to act. Rarely will you stumble upon a character that has nothing to say, with even robots and differing species carrying dialogue. Keep in mind not all characters speak a common language, with Wookies, Twi’leks, and other characters sporting a different dialect and language. Star Wars has always been known for its music, and the games would not be complete without the same method of music. Lucasarts dishes out some of the same tracks we’ve heard hundreds of times in the movies, as well as subtle, but noticeable new music sporting the same style. The sound effects of blasters, vehicles, and lightsabers bring out true authenticity to the Lucas name. The sinister voice of Darth Malak and reassuring voice of the behemoth wookie Zaalbar bring the story to life, and create unforgettable characters.

The one factor of the game that can be deemed perfect, revolutionizing, unique, fun, addictive, and challenging, has to be the gameplay system. Bioware has created a different type of RPG, for the non-RPG types. The combat system is played in real-time, though contains many of the same RPG elements. When engaging with an enemy character, the game is automatically paused, allowing you to make any adjustments to your attacks, list of moves you want carried out, and various changes to help you win the battle. After your commands have been queued, the game is unpaused and the attacks are carried out in real-time resembling RPG damage and gameplay. Attacks and force powers can be altered in real-time as well, even after already choosing your specified actions. The system might be awkward during the first preliminary battles, though is easy and becomes more challenging as the game progresses.

Though KOTOR is played through a tangible storyline, there are hundreds of submissions to keep you running around and help gain experience. Submissions are found almost everywhere and on every planet through communicating with people and creatures within the world. Some missions include working as a Jedi lawyer, killing as a bounty hunter, gathering information as a spy, and countless others that have their own unique rewards. Completing the submissions will not affect the story, but will shed more light on general story ideas, clearing up questions that may have popped into your head. The submissions also sway you towards or further from the light, depending on what you decide. With all of these aspects in play, the submissions alone had 10-20 hours to the games value.

Once finished playing KOTOR, replaying it isn’t an option, but a priority. There are so many areas to explore on the beautiful seven worlds, tasks to be done, and different ways of altering the story, that playing through the game 3 times would truly be considered “finishing” the game.

Though specifics on downloadable content haven’t been revealed, Lucasarts made the announcement of weapons and items to be the most likely matter to be downloaded. Both the weapons and items will be attainable using Xbox Live and will not affect the outcome of the story in any way.

Star Wars: KOTOR is easily one of the best Xbox games to ever be released, game of the year nominee, and possibly, the best RPG to ever hit any console. If you’re looking for an RPG that will last eons upon eons, KOTOR is the right game for you, no matter what preference you have.

- Eric Lahiji
(July 30, 2003)

 

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