Adventure & RPG
|Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
September 1, 2004 | Gordon Hurd
It’s probably obvious, but still worth mentioning that throughout the game players are given many choices and the outcome of those choices will lead your character down the path to the Dark or Light side of the Force. These moral balancing acts might be what give Star Wars games their appeal and their competitive edge in the wide world of videogames. Who hasn’t sat back in a Star Wars movie and thought, “What would I do?” KotOR offers you the chance to play around with that around almost every corner.
There are basically two modes of play in KotOR, exploration and battle. Both modes depend on the quests that your player gets involved in. While there is definitely a main story line, there are many small quests inserted, as well as “minigames,” including racing, dueling, puzzle games, and more. Throughout all of these modes, players often have to choose verbal responses or actions to nonplayer characters and situations, all of which help steer your character a little bit more toward the Light or Dark side of the Force. You may save that alien from a group of xenophobic kids and gain some points for the Light. Some time later you may demand a reward for a similar feat of heroic daring or, better yet, flat out refuse to help someone in distress because you can’t be bothered. Points for the Dark side.
Beyond the moral shopping spree that KotOR offers players, there are additional choices to be made in weaponry, armor, and other items essential for getting through quests and keeping your Jedi skin alive. Players can choose melee weapons such as swords and staffs—which might seem a little odd in a world of droids, hyperspace, and intergalactic trade—or ranged weapons like disruptor pistols or blasters. Weapons as well as armor can be upgraded with enhancements bought from merchants or found in the field. When it comes to variety in firepower, KotOR offers plenty.
On the cosmetic side of things, KotOR offers a number of different environments, worlds, and atmospheric embellishments. The game will take players through seven different worlds including the sprawling mega-city of the planet Taris, the floating cities of aquatic Manaan, and the Wookie hmeworld Kashyyyk. Each world has its distinct look, sounds, and environments to traverse and all are visually appealing if your graphic hardware can take the weight (more on this later in the preview).
In addition to exotic locales, players are accompanied in quests by a variety of species and characters. Jedis, of course, play a key role, as well as a Wookie, human characters, and droids, amongst others. Players encounter plenty of other indigenous beings as you interact with characters that can provide information or offer essential clues and advances into the game’s driving storyline. Voice acting is high quality, thankfully, as nothing has the potential to deteriorate a story-driven game than sub par delivery from its key characters.
Given all the positives of KotOR, one thing that may give potential players pause seem to be the game’s steep technical requirements. All of the joy of adventure, battle, and exploration could devolve into the excruciating pain of watching your computer slow down to a crawl in dealing with the game’s hefty draw on your computer hardware. In some environments, controlling characters in your party can become tricky at best with the computer barely keeping up with your keyboard or mouse movements. I found this happening in two different environments in the first stages of the game using a PowerMac G4 Dual 1.25ghz with 1.5gb of RAM and a Radeon 9000 Pro. One can definitely hope that between the current preview stage and final release that enough technical kinks can be worked out to offer a better game play experience on similar hardware. At this point in time, however, previewing the game required turning all graphic options down to their lowest settings.
Overall KotOR carries all the potential of being a compelling companion in the lineup of Star Wars games as well as a key release amongst all current titles for the Mac platform. KotOR’s combination of role playing features, action, story, and graphics (if you can afford to see them at their best) look to offer a deep and rewarding gaming experience. Whether you might be a die-hard fan of role playing games or someone drawn to the rich tapestry of the Star Wars universe, Knights of the Old Republic should bring you hours of enjoyment.