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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.5

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
September 23, 2004 | Michael Phillips

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Is there any sound that is more stirring than a lightsaber? Itís such an unmistakable sound that even 30 years after its unveiling, itís still part of our popular culture. Iíll never forget the first time Ben ďObi-WanĒ Kenobi drew that blue blade of light and deftly relieved an attacker of his arm. *hiss* *vwoooom* *vwoom* *hissss* Ok, text canít really capture the distinct aural delights of a lightsaber in play, but I can only work with the tools at hand. At any rate, I really dig lightsabers. Unfortunately, I canít just go out and buy a lightsaber from Home Depot. So, I look for other ways to sate my proclivity toward the Jedi weapon of choice. The only question isÖ how? Simply put, games are the way!

There are plenty of Star Wars games out there, but none of which truly capture the feeling of ďbeingĒ a Jedi like Aspyr Mediaís latest LucasArts title, Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR). Originally developed by the role-playing game gurus at BioWare, Knights of the Old Republic is the first computer RPG to take place in the Star Wars universe. Now, we KNOW BioWare makes great RPGs, but the Star Wars moniker doesnít necessarily equal greatness. We all saw and lamented Lucasí Phantom Menace. I was personally sickened by Jabba the Huttís CG reincarnation. When it comes to Star Wars, I begin my ventures cautiously. So, how does Knights of the Old Republic measure up to the best and worst of the Star Wars universe? As I write this, one phrase springs to mindÖ OMG, FREAKING SWEET! However, the previous doesnít exactly constitute a full review, does it?

Gameplay: Republic Rule
Knights of the Old Republic is an RPG that has garnered 122 industry awards since its original XBox release, so thereís really no way I could intimate that it even remotely sucks. Frankly, I wish people would stop reading this, toss the good folks at Aspyr $49.95 and start playing KotOR. Itís that good. KotOR features a compelling story, 3 base character classes, 3 Jedi classes, an incredible combat system and of course, lightsabers.

Knights of the Old Republic takes place 4,000 years before George Lucas went insane and sent dewbacks to hunt down a pair of droids in the deserts of Tatooine. It is a time when Jedi Knights and Sith minions number in the thousands, neither side hiding from the other. The Galactic Republic recently survived a war with the Mandalorians, only to be betrayed by two fallen Jedi, Darth Revan and Darth Malak. The game begins with Darth Malak leading an enormous fleet of Sith starships against the extraordinarily outgunned Republic fleet. During this battle, a young female Jedi named, Bastila, gets separated from her allies, thus it is the playerís job to find her. With an entire fleet of Sith starships at their front door, why is one Jedi so important? Simply put, Bastila could possibly turn the tide of war, whether it be toward good or evil. Bastila is whatís known as a wielder of Battle Meditation; she can literally inspire the hearts of her allies, while breaking the spirits of her enemies. As the game progresses, players journey the galaxy in search of an artifact that could save or destroy all that is good and just. I donít want to give any more away, but I will say that I found KotORís story to be FAR more compelling than any of Lucasí most recent tripe, erm, I mean, writing.

Before we go any further, letís examine KotORís character classes. KotOR contains 3 base character classes: Soldier, Scoundrel & Scout. When choosing their base class, one has to consider their play style. For example, the Soldier relies on brute strength and copious amounts of hit points, whereas the Scoundrel favors agility and stealth. The Scout is sort of a balance between the two. For story purposes, the playerís main character must be human. As the game continues, players can add NPCs of varying races and classes to their party, allowing for a wider gameplay experience.


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