Originally released on the Xbox, Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic (KoTOR) has finally arrived on the PC. The PC version bears a new interface to support the keyboard and mouse instead of a gamepad, increased graphical capabilities, new high-tech items and a new area.
Developed by Bioware, creators of the Baldur’s Gate series, KoTOR takes place some 4000 years before the events that occur in the Star Wars movies. In this time period, Jedi Knights are in abundance and the war between light and dark sides of The Force is ever-present. In this game’s plot, a pair of Jedi, Revan and Malak, has succumbed to the dark side. An unassuming Jedi apprentice kills Sith Lord Revan and forces Malak to flee. While in hiding, Malak conspires to overthrow the Republic with some help from allies and tries to extinguish the Jedi for good. Traversing seven worlds, you may travel to such planets as Tattoine, the Sith world of Korriban, Dantooine with the Jedi Academy, and the Wookie world of Kashyyyk.
The rules system in the game is based on that of the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars D20. Fans of pencil-and-paper style games should enjoy the authenticity, but gamers not accustomed to this rule set will face a slight learning curve. Nonetheless, Bioware has done an excellent job of appealing to the RPG purist and the casual gamer interested in the Star Wars franchise by producing a balanced mix.
Structured around a third person view, this 3D world RPG lets gamers create customisable and evolving playable characters. Characters can be male or female and of a certain class such as soldier, scout or scoundrel. Characters can also be focused towards abilities such as combat or stealth, eventually training to become a Jedi Knight. Beginning with a few basic quests, experience levels and abilities build up to evolve your character. Combat mode is turn based, allowing your characters to set up multiple attack/defence moves even before the enemy has time to blink.
You are not alone on your quest: non-playable characters join your party throughout the missions and help to save the Republic. They have predetermined abilities and are not as customisable, and can be upgraded only through level-up increases.
Bioware has extended the replay-ability of KoTOR with multiple paths and choices concerning people and puzzles, keeping track of your responses and changing the gameplay or your appearance to suit. The ability to replay the game leaning towards the light or dark side of The Force is a huge bonus, and it’s interesting to see how the stories differ. Mini games or multiple side missions are also available to break up the hack-and-slash monotony.
To sum up, the graphics, gameplay and audio offer a great, absorbing RPG title. With enough plot twists to keep you guessing, KoTOR is an excellent purchase for Star Wars and RPG fans alike.