Sunday, May 29, 2016

"It's a Video Game!!" - Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Well, it’s time to get back to the world of Star Wars. Yeah, one could say it’s not really science fiction. Still, it does have clones and artificial intelligence, so it’s at least light sci-fi. Instead of the usual stuff involving familiar characters, I thought it was time to branch out a little bit. In 2003, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was released and got much praise. Since I didn’t own an Xbox and I’m not a big PC player, I didn’t get to play this. That changed some time back when I found KOTOR at McKay’s. I was already playing the sequel, The Sith Lords, when I found it. I was also going to talk about the sequel today, but I’m still playing it.

The game was done by Bioware. As you can probably tell by some previous posts, I like Bioware. That was one of the reasons I sought out this game. I know it’s also playable on mobile stuff, but I wanted to try it out on old-school consoles. It’s an action RPG that takes place 4,000 years before the movies take place. Like with Bioware’s more recent games, you get to build your character from the ground up with his or her own skill sets and powers. Unfortunately, you can’t change much with the size and shape of the character.

Yeah, there is no similarity. My guy does kind of looks like either Shelyn Ward from Power Rangers in Space or Vince Carter.

You start out the game as a random Republic soldier (in my case, Krell Vulcanos) fighting in a war against the Sith Empire. They’ve hit it big in the universe and the Jedi aren’t doing well. After you land on Taris, you have to look for the Jedi Knight known as Bastilla. After you save her, you and some gathered companions head to Dantooine. Since you’re apparently endowed with the Force, you’re trained as a Jedi. Since your character is having visions that involve Malak, the Sith’s leader, and Revan, Malak’s dead teacher, the Jedi Council sends you on a mission to stop Malak. Twists and turns await you… unless you were already spoiled on said twists and turns. Thanks, Internet!

Yes, I did this mission... I needed the money, man!

This was a pretty good game. Since this is Bioware, I knew what to more or less expect. I was hoping it would be it would be good and it was that and more. You get sucked into an older Star Wars universe. While it is 4,000 years before we see anyone familiar, it still feels like Star Wars. We got Jedi, Sith, Hutts, and even those aliens with tales on their heads… I don’t know what they’re called, okay? We even get to see some new planets. We also get familiar planets like Tatooine. It wouldn’t be Star Wars unless you had to land on that backwater planet.

 I thought the story given was pretty good. By the way, I’m not spoiling anything major this time around. Just know that there’s a twist involving your character. You get to build your character and put him/her down two paths. He can either be on the light side or dark side. He can also be a mix of both. This game probably does more to explain the Jedi/Sith concepts more than the prequels did and I like it for that alone. For me, I was mostly on the Jedi side but there were times I wouldn’t live up to it. I’m not that much of a douche. Similar to Bioware’s later games, your decisions have an effect on your companions and the way they view you.
Yeah, this tended to happen a lot.

As usual for Bioware, your companions are pretty cool. They’re all diverse in personality and background. They also provide for some good moments in the game. My favorites were Jolee Bindo, Bastilla, HK-47, Canderous Ordo, and Carth Onasi. Malak was an interesting villain who had some interesting baggage attached to him. He was a horror to beat. I had to replay older missions in order to rebuild my stats to beat that bald-looking sucka. The voice-acting was good… in some places. You may even recognize a couple of voices. Ethan Phillips (Neelix from Star Trek: Voyager) lent his voice to some background characters.
Look! It's the Death Star v. 0.000001!

 The gameplay is a mix of traditional RPG and third person action. When you battle, it plays more like older RPG games. You’ll sometimes battle alone or with two other companions. There are also smaller mini-games that are there to change it up a bit. Sometimes, you’ll have to blast enemy vessels out of the sky in the Ebon Hawk. The visuals looked pretty good for a game from 2003. The cutscenes were pretty nice to look at since the game had a nice cinematic feel. Finally, the music was quite nice. It definitely had the Star Wars feel to it.

While I do like this game, it does have some shortcomings. First off, the dialogue sections can be weird at times. Whenever you speak to most aliens who don’t speak Galactic Basic (the Star Wars version of English), the aliens will repeat certain phrases. It gets pretty annoying after a while since the game is heavy with dialogue. You think they’re trying to call up Chtulu or something. Some of the voices can also sound pretty weird. The fish folk on Manaan sounded like they were from the 3rd level of Hell or something.

The gameplay can also be a bit weird at times. I don’t play old-school RPG games much, so that could just be me. It also can sometimes be a bit dull or cumbersome at times. It definitely could be that for someone who isn’t used to playing older games. Sometimes, you may run into a glitch or two while playing and that can be a bit annoying. Still, these shortcomings don’t hurt the overall experience.

In the end, I’m glad I picked up this game. It helped make the Star Wars universe seem bigger for someone who doesn’t read much Expanded Universe stuff. It’s also a good game in its own right. Well, that’s all I got for tonight. I was going to also do an overview of its sequel, but that’ll have to wait for a minute. For now, Peace, God Bless, and May the Force be with you.

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