While I wait for Bioware’s Dragon Age 2 to be released next year I decided to go to the ‘bargain alley’ and see what games I could pick up. I was delighted to find Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic available for $9.95 – so I quickly snapped it up and loaded it onto my PC.
This game was produced in 2006 and while it does look decidedly aged, it really does show that a decent plot, some great game play and a universal theme do go a long way, even if the game looks jaded. What Bioware and LucasArts have produced is a top notch Star Wars themed role-playing game, that is both deep and involved, but also to Star Wars fans, quickly recognizable and enjoyable.
One thing that interested me immediately is the immersive plot that is open ended, but also gives the player many choices along the way, changing and adapting the storyline, but also the character along the way – this is becoming the standard ‘practice’ for many games, and it was interesting to see it in a 4 year old game.
The central theme is a struggle between good and evil, based in a Star Wars setting about 1000 years before the movies. You find yourself in the middle of a power struggle between the Republic and the Sith; immediately you are thrust into the action as you manage to avoid death when your space craft is attacked and destroyed by the Sith. You land on a quarantined world, and the first order of business is to escape the planet, but also find out what happened to Bastilla, a young Jedi who was also on the space craft.
As you begin to delve into the storyline, and meet some of the main characters you do have quite a bit of freedom to explore the world, learn more about the key factions on the world, and often pick sides in some of the in-fighting. There are some key situations that move the plot along, but you can get to these sooner or later as you see fit. It’s also interesting that you can play the game and choose whether you want to lean towards the light or the dark side.
There is a fair bit of exploration to do, as well as many characters that have important information for you to find out – there are also a lot of people to fight! (Whether with a sword, a blaster etc!). The combination of the RPG elements and the combat elements is well done, and while the underlying system is pretty simple, it is fun to level up and be able to tweak your character a bit.
Graphically, the game isn’t that great compared to some of the modern RPG games; however you do get to visit some nice looking worlds, and the attention to detail in representing these ‘real’ Star Wars worlds is great, and you do feel you are part of the Star Wars universe and not just some random thrown together gaming world. Having said that, the 3D graphics are still pretty good, and strangely enough, some of the glitches of the modern games don’t seem to appear on this game! It may look a little clinical at times, but it’s still a pleasant looking game.
The sound is pretty impressive and very Star Wars like! The fx are excellent and the voice acting is up there with the best – it really does add a lot to the overall atmosphere of the game.
Overall, for less than ten dollars you’re getting a huge game that has a lot of game play, some decent graphics and plenty of fun. You may find that you’ll be ‘trotting’ all over the place to finish elements of the game, and this can get annoying, but I found that the plot tended to save me at times when I was beginning to get bored. While you wait for the next ‘big’ release for the PC, then this is a great distraction not only for Star Wars fans, but for RPG game fans.