|Star Wars: KOTOR|
Release Date: Out Now
Anyone like me who grew up with the old Star Wars movies probably has fond memories of sitting on the floor with a bunch of plastic that vaguely resembled the cast, making up your own stories, using old boxes for bases and worlds from your imagination - well anyone like me will get a HUGE buzz from KOTOR - it's the closest thing you will get to those toys without a trip to the attic or the nearest car boot sale.
By now you have probably read numerous other reviews and heard the raves and the hype and one thing I need to get clear is this - YES IT IS THAT GOOD! It's not perfect however, and we will come to that later.
Knights of the Old Republic takes place 1000s of years before the events in the Star Wars movies we all grew up with - (it's set shortly after the "Mandolorian Wars" you see). As the game opens you find yourself on board a big star ship in the middle of a bigger battle. The ship in question is under attack by a Dark Jedi called Malak. Malak was the former apprentice of the Jedi Master Revan, both of whom led republic forces a few years earlier against the Mandalorians. But something went wrong and after going missing for years they both returned as very angry Dark Jedi with a passion for destroying the weakened Republic. At the time they were beaten back by a young female Jedi called Bastila who used her special Jedi battle powers - but now Malak is back - this time as the master - and it's him who is attacking your fleet, seeking his revenge on Bastila. Told you it's REAL Star Wars stuff!
KOTOR is an RPG - it uses a d20 (that's a 20-sided dice to all you non nerds) system for any and all decisions that need to be made - be it creating skills, fighting or unlocking doors - it's all done using this d20 system. However you will NEVER notice it. The pure beauty of the game is that all the RPG stuff is almost invisible - it's all handled by your XBOX - and whilst being one of the truest RPGs I have ever played, you would actually think you are playing an arcade action game. At the start of the game you create a character from one of the three starting classes (Smuggler, Scout or Soldier) but later on you then get to advance to a Jedi.
Joining you along the ride will be other Characters, Jedi, Droids, A Wookie and a few more. Unlike in many other RPGs where the NPCs are just faceless cannon fodder who utter one or two things to prod you on these guys each have a HUGE back story, and have hundreds of lines of dialogue - it's this that takes KOTOR from being a good game into a GREAT game. Up to two of these NPCs can be with you at any one time, and whilst you are with them you can talk with them and learn all about what makes them who they are. Not only do you have the main story to follow you also have a separate adventure for each NPC.
The mission choices are HUGE - you do not have to undertake them all but you become so engrossed you soon find yourself not sleeping or eating until you have done so - not only do you have all these missions but you also have numerous ways to complete them, and with most of them at least TWO very different outcomes. You see, this being Star Wars and a game involving Jedi you have both a light and a dark side - complete a mission using diplomacy, give a few credits to an old lady or help a lost child and you gain light side points, people look up to you and you get a warm glowy feeling - however, complete a mission by killing everything that moves or use the force to get more money from a sale and you get dark side points. Unlike in previous SW games this is more than just a gimmick, the type of Jedi you are effects EVERYTHING, from which force powers you can cast, how your friends and enemies react to you and eventually the whole outcome of the game.
The in-game graphics are not the best you will have seen, but they do the job. However once you grab yourself a lightsaber and find yourself in the middle of a battle (not fight) with around 15 or so Sandpeople you hardly notice - it all becomes so very Star Wars, the glow of the sabre, the swirling of cloaks and the never ending sand dunes. Blaster fire is pumped out from the many different types of firearm available and the ground shakes and erupts from grenades being thrown like snowballs. The sound on the other hand is among the best you will hear - it's lifted directly from the movies, including the music and is presented in 5.1. Also all the dialogue in the game is spoken (no crappy speech windows) and the actors do a rather good job of it.
KOTOR is a THE best Start Wars game ever and is an essential purchase for any XBOX owner - it provided well over 35hrs of engrossing game play to me, but it is not perfect. Being an RPG it suffers what many games of this type do - a cap on the experience points, which is not that bad a thing, but the cap does come too early, and if you play the game to 100% (or as close as you can get) you can't help but feel you could have gained a couple more levels. Also the point at which you become a Jedi does (I feel) come a little early. However this is just nitpicking and points which you don't actually notice until you finish the game.
As it stands it's almost perfect - I'm now waiting on the PC version, with better graphics, more missions and the hope that it can be modded to remove the XP cap to make it virtually endless and make it THE perfect game for SW fans.
- (Almost) the perfect game.
- Great story.
- Fantastic sound.
- Lovely graphics.
- It's Star Wars.
- It ends.
- XP cap.
- Life consuming.
- It's Star Wars.