Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Cover
Platforms Xbox, Windows
Genre Morality Space RPG
MtAMinutes to Action 10
Keep Playing? Yes
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Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is an action RPG released for the Xbox and Windows in 2003. Before KotOR, Star Wars games had plenty of success in the action genre, but had never ventured far beyond the standard platformer, space sim, or shooter. BioWare changed all that with Knights, and in the process kicked off their own line of very successful console-first RPGs. Many fans would call this an incredible amalgamation of LucasArts and BioWare, of Star Wars and Western RPGs. I'll save my judgement for after I save (or destroy?) the galaxy.

I played the game a bit during college when it first came out, but never got into the "series" until Jade Empire and then later Mass Effect. Since I'm experienced with their newer games, it will be very interesting to see how they evolved since Star Wars. Let's get into the first hour of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select New Game and the first hour of Knights of the Old Republic begins. First I need to select my class: male scoundrel, male scout, male soldier, and female versions of each. I go with male soldier. I can customize my character if I'd like, but I'd rather just get into the game, quick character please! Oh, you still get to select the head, that's nice.

01 - And a random name... Gheis Chaar. I select Play and the game loads up.

02 - "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." appears on screen, and then the classic Star Wars scrolling credits go by. This game apparently takes place 4,000 years before the original movies, wow. The bad guy is Darth Malak, who's causing chaos around the galaxy.

03 - The words begin to disappear into the stars as the screen pans down onto a planet. Nice, a big ship rolls by as it gets blasted by tons of little fighters! Looks like the ship may be heading for the planet's surface in a crash landing, that can't be good.

Knights Of The Old Republic Endar Spire

04 - We're inside the ship now, my character was apparently sleeping through it all. What a lazy bum. The ship is the Endar Spire. A guy runs in and tells me the current situation. I ask the guy who he is, it's Trask Ulgo of course. We need to find Bastila.

05 - She's the commanding officer in charge of the mission and it's my job to protect her. The voice acting is not bad, too bad Gheis doesn't speak (not until Mass Effect). He's talking really fast though. I need to get my gear out of my locker. I guess underwear isn't appropriate battle attire.

07 - Not sure if I should go with a blaster or sword, let's start with a blaster. No one uses swords but Jedis. Trask joins my party.

08 - Carth contacts us from the bridge and orders us there.

10 - Another door, I need to have Trask break through it using his security skills... that was easy. There's a battle going on outside, it's some Sith! Trask yells "for the Republic!" and the game goes into pause mode.

11 - That was an odd battle, I'm not sure if I had to hit A or not to actually shoot my gun.

Knights Of The Old Republic Blaster Battle

13 - Another battle, it seems that whenever you move you have to tell the game to start shooting again. Another cutscene appears showing some Sith and Republic soldiers fighting it out. They all kind of suck at fighting.

15 - Battles involve a heckuva lot of standing around. Lots of medpacs lying around though, that's nice.

16 - Oh wow! A Jedi and Sith are fighting it out! They trade saber blows a bit until finally the Sith goes down, but as he's dying he takes out the Jedi! Nooo!

18 - Before we go onto the bridge, Trask tells me to equip melee weapons as the bridge is too tight to fight with blasters. What?? According to Trask the sword will be able to stand up against a lightsaber, now that's just foolish.

19 - I equip the long sword I found, but I can also equip a second short sword... intriguing. Oh, there's a big penalty in dual-wielding at this point.

21 - We fight our way onto the bridge, but Bastila is not here. She might have gone to the escape pods according to Trask. Before I can pass through the door though, I need to level up. Very blunt.

Knights Of The Old Republic Fleet

22 - There's a whole bunch of skills to level up... geez, I don't know where to start. How about persuade. Oh, not enough points. Okay then, awareness. How lame. I can also level up feats, for example, my soldier already has the heavy armor feat maxed out. I go with the recommended Sniper Shot.

25 - Guess I'd better equip my brand new blaster rifle then.

26 - There's a Sith behind one of the doors, Trask goes off to fight him by himself, he's a goner. But he did buy me time. Thanks new old friend. The game loads as I enter the starboard section of the ship alone. Carth contacts me and tells me I'm the last surviving member of the crew on the ship. Bastila has thankfully made it away safefully.

29 - I have a power blast move that nearly takes out the entire Sith soldier's life in one hit. I have to remember to keep using that.

30 - There's a bunch of bad guys in the next room over, Carth contacts me again and gives me a few option on how to take them out. I'm a soldier, I think I'll just fight them on my own! Never mind, door locked.

31 - I blow up some kind of machine in the other room and all the guys die, I get 150 exp! I meet up with Carth and we hop into the last remaining pod.

Knights Of The Old Republic Greedo

33 - The Endar Spire blows up as we fly away and crash land into a city. Once again, Gheis Chaar appears to be sleeping on the job though. Oh, he's having some dream of a Jedi and Sith fighting, must be Bastila.

34 - I've been out of it for days now, but we've been hiding out on the planet Taris. Seems like we're still hiding from the Sith, who control Taris.

35 - We still need to find Bastila though, turns out at one point she killed Darth Revan! That sounds like a pretty major accomplishment, but now we need her back, she probably crashed too.

37 - Carth tells me about Battle Meditation, a Jedi power Bastila has that encourages her allies. While talking, you can be sort of a jerk, but nothing too out of this world. I ask him a few questions about Malak and Revan. At one point, they were both Jedis.

39 - Taris has degenerated quite a bit over the years, especially the Undercity. I'm sure we'll end up there.

41 - Carth joins my party, I check out his equipment after leaving the apartment.

Knights Of The Old Republic Flame

42 - Some Sith troopers are messing with the locals, a Sith just shot one in cold blood! Oh wow, they've already accused us of being Republic fugitives and we go into battle. We take them out pretty easily.

44 - The aliens don't speak English, and it takes them forever to say what the subtitles say.

45 - I leveled up again and take a moment to add to my skillset. This time I add the toughness feat, which increases my vitality at a faster rate.

46 - There's a security door and I have Carth unlock it. We approach the human woman inside and she yells at us for barging into her home! You can tell this isn't a JRPG!

47 - We talk to the woman for a moment and she complains about some issues she's having with a man named Holdan. I try to persuade her to tell me more but it fails.

48 - Next up we approach a salesman, he's green and is that species with the two long tentacles growing out of his head, like in Return of the Jedi at Jabba's palace. He's trying to sell me some shields.

Knights Of The Old Republic Bastila Jedi Sith

50 - Along with the shields he mentioned, he's got a ton of weapons and armo for sale. This guy would not be legal in most states. It's too overwhelming at this point, I think I'll come back later.

52 - We break into another apartment, the woman says take what we want... I bet we'd get Dark Side points if we stole from her though, I hold off.

53 - There's a janitor walking the halls, I chat with him for a minute. He tells me the swoop gangs hang out in the lower levels.

55 - Carth and I take the elevator to the Upper City, there are a whole bunch of people walking around. Ooh, there's our escape pod!

56 - I approach a protocol droid like C-3PO and he tells me about the city and its current occupation. Oh, supposedly aliens are generally restricted from entering the Upper City.

58 - There's a group of people talking, two of them are bounty hunters working for Davik. They're trying to collect from an old man. They see us watching and the game gives me the option of protecting the man or just walking away.

59 - They go down in about three shots and I get Light Side points. I also give him 100 credits so he can pay off Davik... that's almost all my money. This had better be worth it.

60 - Ha! Turns out the bounty hunters were carrying 100 credits on them too, well, I guess we'll call it even. And that's the end of the first hour of Knights of the Old Republic.

Knights Of The Old Republic Carth Dialog

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 10

What I liked: Knights of the Old Republic kicks off with an exciting opening sequence, something I can always appreciate. We get a nice tutorial of all the controls without everything being too obvious that it's a tutorial. The game also shows off the Jedi, and its main star, Bastila, and you can talk to other characters about the Darths and state of the galaxy. I liked how a little bit of the game's world was leaked out, grabbing my intrigue.

What I didn't like: Going into battle really breaks the flow of the gameplay. I can understand why some would like to pause the game and plan out their attacks, but there's little sense of momentum. Combat is also very sporadic and jolting. Your guy will take a couple shots, wait a second, dodge back and forth like he can predict where the enemy is going to shoot, and then wait another second before shooting again. It doesn't feel natural at all. I guess I need to realize that this is a turn-based action RPG and not Mass Effect.

Gameplay: More plodding than I like and the stop-motion combat leaves much to be desired, but leveling up means the character really is mine and I can play how I'd like. Right away I get the option of using a blaster or sword, I like those kind of options.

Fun Factor: It all leads back to combat... but the world is still very interesting to dive into, and of course we get the morality choices famous to BioWare's games now.

Graphics and Sound: Everything looks pretty good for being an Xbox game, nothing stellar but the outdoor city area is big and there's still plenty going on. I'm thankful for the good voice acting though, there's a bit of cheese but Carth seems pretty solid, and I have a feeling we'll be talking to him a lot.

Story: Jedi, Sith, lightsabers, blasters, capital ships, alien worlds, civil unrest, light and dark side choices, all wrapped inside an epic Star Wars universe. About the only thing I haven't seen yet is a hot, alien babe.

Would I keep playing? Yes, I feel like the game definitely deserves a second chance, especially since I'm such a fan on Jade Empire and the Mass Effect series, plus I loved Star Wars growing up.

Knights Of The Old Republic Art