Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

aka: KotOR, Star Wars: Caballeros de la Antigua República, Xingji Dazhan: Jiu Gonghe Wushi

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 92% (based on 61 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 207 ratings with 12 reviews)

The Force is still strong in BioWare's games

The Good
When I heard that BioWare's was doing Star Wars, I knew that I'll have to lay my paws on this game the moment it comes out. By and large, I was satisfied: Knights of the Old Republic is a well-crafted, reasonably deep RPG adorned with exotic planets and Jedi powers.

Anyone familiar with the company's most classic offering, Baldur's Gate II, will recognize its design traits in Knights of the Old Republic. It doesn't offer as much freedom and content as open-ended RPGs, but it is skillful at substituting quantity for quality in its optional content. The game firmly follows its interesting main story, yet there are well-written, engaging side quests available on each given planet. You'll want to explore every corner of the world and talk to all the characters to get maximum value out of the game.

The RPG system is a successfully implemented modification of AD&D adapted to Star Wars universe. So instead of wearing chainmail you'll go with the Mandalorian assault armor, ion rifles with +10 damage against droids will replace bows with fire arrows, and you'll be wielding lightsabers only usable by Jedi and not a Holy Sword only usable by paladins. The system is well-balanced and actually features all the traditional classes (fighter, thief, mage, etc.) in disguise - a Jedi Guardian is a sort of a paladin, Dark Jedis make great offensive evil-aligned mages, Scoundrel is much like a thief, etc. Instead of magic there are, of course, Force powers. Now you'll see how cool it is to stun enemies or lift them into the air by the sheer power of thought and concentration. Particularly entertaining are powers such as Affect Mind, which allows you to persuade a character to do what you ask during a conversation.

Several useful field skills were added to the game. Besides traditional stealth or security skill (which is the same as lockpicking) you have such interesting abilities as computer skill, which allows you to access computers, repair droids, and do other cool stuff. Some areas in the game are almost reminiscent of Deus Ex: you can choose either to take out all the enemies in battles, hack into a computer, making security turrets kill the foes, instruct a droid to turn against its own masters, etc. The real-time-with-pause combat system works the same way as before, though with unfortunate reduction of active player-controlled combatants. You can now "program" your characters for up to three turns - for example, making a priest-type character cast Force Speed, Force Aura, and then attack, without interfering each time the turn is over.

You can shape the main character by choosing either the Light or the Dark way of the traditional Star Wars lore. This affects not only you, but also your love interest, and the game keeps track of your decisions and alignment at all times by adjusting certain gameplay elements (such as the Force powers you are able to learn) accordingly. Like in Baldur's Gate II, much of the fun is derived from interacting with the characters who join you. All your companions have original background stories and fully developed personalities. They would initiate conversations with each other if you choose to take them with you. This encourages experimenting with various party formations, if only to hear what they have to say to each other. Try teaming up the Republican soldier Carth and the Mandalorian Canderous, who were formerly enemies, and you'll witness some hefty word exchanges. Often companions will want to talk to you and provide you with more information about themselves. You can also talk to them whenever you want to, and the conversation lines change as time passes.

The writing is overall excellent. Almost each conversation has numerous trees: you can talk to characters nicely, ask questions, persuade them, lie to them, threaten them, and so on. By the way, every single line of dialogue in this game is voiced (except your character's lines). There is quite a bit of humor in the dialogues; especially amusing are some of the "Dark Side" answers, where your character sounds like some sort of a violently hyperactive first-grader with his constant "Fine. And now I'll kill you!".

The universe of Knights of the Old Republic is a beautiful, living world, which takes full advantage of Star Wars' unique mixture of science fiction and slightly Oriental fantasy. You'll explore ultra-modern enemy bases with deadly assault droids and security terminals to override, shop in booming futuristic cities and settlements, descend into ominous ancient temples, fight using lightsabers in meditation rooms, access spaceships, forests, deserts, and the depths of the ocean.

Those locations come to life thanks to superb graphics. Behold the sunset over the ocean in Manaan, look down into the abyss in the Korriban valley, or descend into the Shadowlands on Kashyyyk. Particularly impressive are the stunningly movie-like cinematic cutscenes, all done with in-game engine. Add to that great music, appropriate sound effects (who doesn't love the buzzing sound of lightsabers?), and above-average voice acting.

Knights of the Old Republic intuitively captures the storytelling spirit of Star Wars and translates it very well into RPG mechanics. Like most good epics, Star Wars is concerned with ethical archetypes - the eternal battle between good and evil. The main plot of the game is in many ways comparable to the one of the movie saga, dealing with similar issues - the nature of mankind, the Force, and so on. In fact, the narrative of the game is in many ways deeper - not to mention more detailed - than the one of the movies. It also has one of the best plot twists in recent memory, almost reaching the heights of the famous paternal revelation in the second movie.

Attention to detail is where the difference between this game's world and the one depicted in Star Wars movies becomes apparent. Star Wars movies threw all kinds of weird aliens into the pot, but did almost nothing to create backgrounds for them. Knights of the Old Republic, on the other hand, builds whole worlds for those species, adding a lot to their credibility by presenting simple, yet convincing small stories. For example, all you knew about Chewbacca from the original Star Wars trilogy is that he looked like a big furball and that he moaned instead of talking. In Knights of the Old Republic, however, you are faced with an interesting issue on the wookie planet Kashyyyk - you meet a wookie chieftain who has sold his own people into slavery in order to become what he is, his brother who was proclaimed mad and had to flee the planet, and their father, who was unable to restore justice. This is just an example of the many comparable quests you'll undertake while playing the game.

The Bad
Knights of the Old Republic was the first BioWare RPG jointly developed for a console. I'm not sure whether that was the decision to blame, but the game displays certain symptoms of simplification, as if the designers wanted to cater to a larger crowd and were determined to make their product mainstream, easily accessible, and user-friendly throughout. You can sense that in the game's overly symmetric structure and formulaic elements creeping into what is still infused with the spirit of the company's earlier work.

I understand that the game has made a transition into 3D, but was it really hardware limitation that forced the developers to reduce the amount of active party members from six to three? I certainly hope I'll be able to play an RPG with 3D graphics and six people in my party some day. I expected at least that the reduction to three combatants would increase the difficulty level, but it is not so: Knights of the Old Republic is noticeably easier than Baldur's Gate games, so you'll need to play it on Hard for a more authentic experience.

There also seem to be less variables in combat and party-building, as well as less items to experiment with. A bottomless inventory and the option to let the game outfit and level up your companions also seem like unnecessary nods to casual players. The game world could have been more expansive; particularly the planet surfaces suffer from artificial borders that cannot be overcome even if you train your jumping ability.

Advancement in Knights of the Old Republic is too convenient. I felt that the game was holding my hand more firmly than necessary. You never have to think about what to do next, and your tasks can be as formulaic as they are predictable. The bulk of the game is occupied by the quest for the Star Map pieces, which involves visiting a few different planets and completing the quests there. The downside of that arrangement is the knowledge that none of those locations is optional and you'll have to complete their main quests to get on with the plot.

The Bottom Line
BioWare and Star Wars: all things considered, it did turn out to be a match made in heaven. Knights of the Old Republic may not be as immensely fulfilling as Baldur's Gate II, but it's still a definite return to form for the company, firmly establishing their leading position in the development of role-playing games.

Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (180491) · 2015

Excellent Star Wars RPG

The Good
You start out being able to choose between three "classes" of characters and whether you are male or female. These classes affect your stats as you level up as well as certain skills your character has. And choosing male or female affects your relationship to certain characters in the game.

Having the ability to choose between the light side and the dark side in the game is a great way to add replayability to the game. I played through as the light side first and had a lot of fun doing so, and when playing through as the dark side, I still had fun even though I already did everything once before.

Upgrading certain weapons and armor, as well as the light sabers, was a nice way to make the weapons more personal to your game. Rather than everyone ending up with the exact same weapons, you are able to upgrade certain things to add a little more variety. Although the upgrades for armor and standard weapons are the same no matter what, the light saber upgrades require you to make a choice as to what properties you would like for your light saber(s). You are even able to choose the color of your light saber(s).

When you become a jedi, you are able to choose what kind of jedi you want to be from three choices. Your choice determines your stats as you level up as well as what additional skills you have for your character.

The graphics were very well done and the cut-scenes of the planets were spectacular. The game allows you to remove most of the user interface from the screen to make the game a more cinematic experience.

The NPCs that are important are usually very interesting to talk to and many of them react based on your own actions. This allows you for a very immersive environment for your character.

The game also offers a VERY unexpected twist to the plot. Although clues are given throughout the game (they are redisplayed to you when the twist happens), someone would have to be very good at noticing subtle clues in order to figure out the twist before it happened unless they know about it beforehand. The twist really adds a lot to the game.

In order to save some time when moving throughout the game, you are able to instantly return to your ship from any "safe" place and then return from your ship to that place. This helps to save some time walking around.

Your party members have interesting (usually) stories to tell you which they will tell you as time passes if you choose to talk to them about it. These stories open up various side quests and can make your party members more interesting.

The Bad
The game was not very challenging. The only part that posed any real challenge was the very end because you can never completely kill off your enemies... you just have to get through to the next area alive. Unless you have a lot of med pacs, or you have three jedi with healing powers and a lot of jedi power available to them, this can become difficult. After getting through that small part of the game, you get to the end where you fight the last character who is very easy to beat.

Some of the side quests were annoying because you are always going back and forth between planets and then running all over the place to complete them.

The Bottom Line
If you like Star Wars and would like to play a jedi in an RPG, this is an excellent choice. The game offers a lot for the gamer and the problems with the game are really very minor. The only real problem is that you are not offered much of a challenge.

Windows · by Riamus (8448) · 2004

A New Hope...

The Good
Just when you thought Star Wars games had nothing to offer except arcadey Rogue Squadron-type garbage and generic movie spin-offs along comes BioWare to save LucasArts from it's own stupidity. I mean, I was surprised myself after playing it, and it goes without saying that this is the best Star Wars game since XW: Alliance, not to mention one of the best games ever based in the adventures of a galaxy far, far away.

As mentioned BioWare deserves all the credit for making this game the stellar success it was, applying all their experience and design prowess to Lucas's franchise, besides they had their work cut out for them from a gameplay point of view. BioWare can be credited for being the developers that brought back D&D to the CRPG world, in no small part due to their success at translating the D&D mechanics in a way that was both novel and efficient. Unlike most gamers seem to know, Star Wars already has a P&P RPG adaptation know affectively as the Star Wars D20 system and it is this system that KoTOR uses instead of the D&D system as noted elsewhere. Of course, one can argue that the Star Wars sys. is really a cloned version of the D&D mechanics, but in fact it has a skill system of it's own and already defined class and racial distinctions. Thus BioWare only had to readapt their already superb D&D translation to fit the Star Wars system and presto! Instant Star Wars RPGing!!

Playing KoTOr thus has a lot in common with previous BioWare titles like Baldur's Gate, with it's paused real-time combat system, inventory management and spell/item usage being just like those good old Infinity engine games. A few refinements have been added, like the option to queue a series of actions for each character and lay out a basic battleplan (for instance, heal then attack, then use shield, then attack, etc.) but it's basically the same old thing, which is good, no need to mess with a good thing.

The look of the game is however substantially different from the Infinity engine games, switching to a third-person perspective 3D environment from which you interact with the gameworld from a much closer perspective. No need to worry about subpar 3D action/rpg hybrids tough, KoTOR doesn't have you jumping around or doing stupid arcadey things, you still handle the game from a mouse-driven interface (tough the wasd keys have been added to the mix for obvious reasons) with the interaction with the gameworld being based around single clicking for targeting whatever you want to use and then selecting the proper action from a context-sensitive pop-up menu.

The party has also been modified in it's size now toned down to 3 party members including your main character (created through an instantly recognizable BioWare-esque character creation scheme that also allows you to choose sex and model). These party members include everything from Wookies to droids to Jedis, each with unique personalities, backstories and personal quests that enrich the gameworld. In true BioWare-form these characters offer a lot of free conversations and information not only on each quest but also on the locations and character they meet, including each other, which also means those wonderfully amusing exchanges between party members from the BG games returns, with some truly funny moments that include a certain Jedi using her powers to make someone else trip, or a droid having psychotic outbursts.

The skills and force powers (the "magic" in the game) are very well executed, and the game manages to include everything from sneaking (which requires you to ditch your party momentarily) to hacking, repairing and using the good ol' Jedi mind trick on the NPCs for your benefit. Weapons are also very well balanced, with a good mix of meele and ranged weapons, some which can be modified (like the lightsabers) to include different items that cause unique status effects or modify stats for more customized combat.

The 3D engine is surprisingly robust, being able to handle the complex game mechanics as well as providing some of the most amazing graphics for a game of it's kind. Truly KoTOR is a gorgeous game to behold, and probably the most beautiful rpg ever made. With incredibly hi-quality models, texture details and effects that are nothing short of amazing. The engine is also quite scalable by 2003 standards as it not only includes special effects like smooth shadows for pixel shading-capable cards but it also allows for gameplay on lesser cards all the way down to GeForce2 MX series boards. Basically anything that has T&L will do, thus ensuring no one has an excuse for missing out on this masterpiece.

The graphic quality however shouldn't be too much of a surprise when you consider the gigantic resources LucasArts must have thrown at the game. If there's something that can be said of all Star Wars games, regardless of whether they are good or bad, is that they look and sound the part, and KoTOR is no exception. The game is your all-around triple-A product, with the fantastic graphics I mentioned above, plus incredible SFX straight from the Lucas sound libraries, a dynamic orchestral soundtrack befitting the Star Wars name and other niceties such as a streamlined interface that manages to take most of the clutter out of inventory management, with separate slots for accessing health, power-ups and force powers in an orderly fashion. Animations are incredibly well made, with most combat animations being a sight to behold, truly seeing two Jedis duking it out will leave you speechless as you see them dance around, lash at each and parry unsuccessful attacks. Most amazingly EVERY line of dialogue is spoken, with no exception!! (save for the lines your own main character says), this is a baffling achievement (and surely accounts for most of the 4gbs or so the game takes up during installation) specially when you consider this is a classic PC RPG (even if it was released first for the X-Box) with lots of dialogue trees. Plus, dialogue is fully lip-synched and acted, with characters frowning and smiling believably depending on the tone of the conversation... heck! In true Star Wars spirit, the aliens speak their own wacky languages with the subtitles being your only way of knowing what they are saying!

Finally, the cornerstone of every good RPG is acknowledged with a superb storyline that truly makes the game stand out from the competition. The story deserves a chapter of it's own, and by the time you pick the game up you'll find out that all that hype and critical acclaim wasn't missplaced. It not only manages to be a surprising and twisty ride that manages to keep you glued to your seat and playing through it just to find out where the plot takes you next, but it also works wonders to justify the way the game introduces the Jedi classes, and most importantly captures that adventuring, planet-hopping, good vs evil fantasy spirit Star Wars enbodied (a long ago...). In typical BioWare style, the game also has numerous subplots and sidequests for you to toy around with, with some extremely interesting examples that prove sidequests don't need to be just a distraction to build up experience, like a court-drama trial where you put your ethical beliefs in the stand while trying to defend an apparent murderer with interplanetary interests in the balance among the finest examples.

The Bad
There are some rather annoying touches that I blame mostly on the broader approach to please console gamers as much as hardcore RPGers the game has. For instance... does EVERY console rpg need to have a stupid card-collecting Pokemon-esque mini game? It appears so, and if KoTOR wanted to play with the big boys in console land it needed to include one, as well as two other needless but mostly harmless minigames.

Also some stuff is simplified for the sake of "consolity" such as no inventory weight or space limitations (meaning you have the classic "black hole" with you in which everything fits and you never get encumbered). More importantly, there's no penalization for changing equipment on-the-fly, and that is a somewhat cheap detail.

However that is mostly bitching, a true problem with KoTOR lies in the fact that all the characters level up regardless of whether they are in the party or not. This IS a significant design flaw as it negates the main reason for you to specialize certain characters with certain skills, and that I'm afraid I can't blame on console sensibilities...

But as you can see there is hardly anything wrong with the game, sure we can start bitching all you want about every detail you can think of, as everyone wants to do when discussing truly great games, but it's just that: bitching. I mean, if it really bothers you that there's no blood in the game or that the alien languages are actually looping soundtracks meesa thinks you should get a life boyo.

The Bottom Line
BioWare does Star Wars. That pretty much should tell you everything you need to know about the game, a superb CRPG with excellent gameplay, outrageous production values and fantastic storyline. Knights of the Old Republic not only manages to be one of the best Star Wars games ever made, but also one of the best CRPGs released to date. Truly not one to be missed, a masterpiece in every sense of the word.

Windows · by Zovni (10504) · 2005

The best roleplaying game I've played...ever

The Good
KOTOR is a true masterpiece. The Xbox version, released to much critical acclaim in Spring 2003, only got PC gamers more excited about what was to come. Now that I've played the PC version (which I consider to be superior to the Xbox version), I can say that this is the greatest RPG I've ever experienced. It's definitely in my Top 3 of all time (I'd say it's the second best...second to Grim Fandango and one notch above Beneath a Steel Sky).

Coming from BioWare, the Canadian developer of the Baldur's Gate games, Neverwinter Nights, and the sleeper hit MDK2, KOTOR is the most accessible and fun of their roleplaying games (MDK2 might be more accessible, but it's an action game, a far cry from most of their work). The accessibility is shown right from the start. There are only three classes to select - the Soldier, skilled in combat, the Scout, skilled in exploration, disabling mines, and hacking computers, and the Scoundrel, skilled in stealth, lockpicking, and persuasive talking. You can choose to be male or female. The game uses a simplified version of the D20 system used for Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Ctulhu, and the Star Wars Roleplaying Game. However, you don't have to be very familiar with the system at all. A quick read of the manual will explain attack bonus, saving throws, skills, feats, abilities, and powers. It will even explain all the technical details of what the computer is doing that you don't really need to know. Creating a character in Baldur's Gate often took a while, and Neverwinter Nights, even with the "Recommended" button, still took a bit of time, but creating a character in KOTOR often takes less than 2 minutes. The hardest part is picking your portrait and name.

The game uses a 3D engine, and you move using the standard WASD control scheme. You will notice from the start that unlike Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights, every single line of dialogue is voice acted (except for your character's lines, but that's because they're supposed to have your voice...it's roleplaying, remember?). The voice acting is excellent, especially for the droid HK-47. HK is quite possibly one of the most entertaining video game characters I've ever seen. His policy of calling humans "meatbags" and constant urge to kill something really must be seen to be believed. The graphics also need to be seen...they're just simply amazing.

Gameplay is excellent. Combat is psuedo-real time (it's turn based, but you can't really tell since it moves so fast), but can be paused at any time to issue orders to your party, which can have three members at a time. Dialogue is full of moral choices that can really effect your thinking and play style. One time I felt so bad about threatening a shopkeeper to lower the price of a droid that I loaded a previous saved game (but there is thankfully a quicksave key, which can really prevent replaying certain parts a zillion times). You also really start to care about the characters you travel with. One sequence involves my character being interrogated. If I lie, my companion gets tortured. You know your companion doesn't want you to give the information, but the sight of seeing her tortured nearly makes you crack. Emotional sequences like that truly show that game development is an art.

The story is much better than Episodes I and II. George Lucas should take notes. KOTOR's story keeps you enthralled to the very end, and on the way you'll experience one of the greatest plot twists in any storytelling media ever...book, movie, or game.

The Bad
KOTOR isn't without its flaws. Even after installing the patch, it still crashes sometimes, though quicksaving often can remedy this issue. Like many Infinity engine games, KOTOR sometimes runs choppy, but this can be fixed by quicksaving and quickloading. Since I have a Geforce 4, I'm not sure about the ATI card bugs, but I've heard that there are still some crash bugs with ATI cards and that soft shadows don't always work with them.

Some other minor issues involve the voice acting of alien dialogue to be VERY lengthy. I can often finish reading the subtitles ten seconds before the non-English voice acting ends. Seriously, how long does it take to say "I really hate the Sith" in Twi'lek?

Another very minor issue is the game's anachronistic tendencies. It's supposed to take place 4000 years before A New Hope, yet the technology seems to be on roughly the same level.

The Bottom Line
Despite its bugs, KOTOR is one of the best games I have ever played. It takes 20-40 hours to complete, and is fun until the end. I almost cried when it was over..I didn't want it to end.

Windows · by Zack Green (1160) · 2004

Powerful this one is.

The Good
It is a dark time for the Republic. The Jedi heroes of the Mandalore War have fallen to the Dark Side. The Sith have taken over the Outer Rim worlds and their armada approaches Coruscant. Every day they add fallen Jedi to their numbers. Every day more planets fall to them; more races are enslaved. High above Taris, the ENDAR SPIRE, a Republic capital ship, is falling before DARTH MALAK and his Sith Fleet. Republic escape pods trace meteoric trails against Taris’s skyline. It’s up to you to make it on to one of those escape pods, find BASTILA, a Jedi Knight whose Battle Meditation may turn the tide against the Sith, and get her through the Sith blockade back to the Republic.

Such begins Knights of the Old Republic, the first computer role playing game set in the Star Wars Universe (though it is a port of the Xbox game). KOTOR has three starting character classes for the human male or female character and three Jedi classes after your character is trained in the ways of the Force. With a game lasting considerably longer that the two trilogies combined, Bioware has created a rich gaming experience blending traditional arcade elements, story driven role playing, and challenging third person combat.

KOTOR is based on the 3rd edition of AD&D, meaning that while your character is attacking something, behind the scenes the computer is busy rolling virtual dice to see if you are hitting, how much damage you are doing, and checking to see if you are making your saving throws. KOTOR includes the traditional AD&D attributes with their relevance adjusted for Star Wars (i.e. Wisdom affects your command of the Force). Your character also acquires skills (like persuasive speech and computer hacking) and feats, which are largely combat centered. The feats determine the type of armor you can wear and the kinds of weaponry you are proficient with. Finally, once you enter Jedi training, your character can add Force powers, like Heal or Choke and strengthen them as you gain levels of experience.

When I first heard that a Star Wars RPG was making its way to the PC I expected the game would play out from an isometric view point. I would have been pleased with that, but KOTOR is a stunning (if limited) 3D game played from a third person perspective. The limitation comes from a camera which moves 360° along the x-axis, but only has a limited y-axis. What you can see is beautiful. KOTOR contains over five worlds to explore from the lush forests of Kashyyyk to the ocean world of Manaan. These worlds contain ambient life, large populations, and vivid scenery.

As you might expect, exploring these worlds often leads to combat. Combat in KOTOR is real-time, turn-based. Clicking on an opponent activates your character’s default attack. Using the HUD above the enemy allows you to cue a wider variety of attacks including special feat-based ones (like a Sniper attack), grenade attacks, or Force Powers. There are many weapons to be found: the clumsy, random blaster, the elegant lightsaber, thermal detonators, and the more visceral vibroswords. There are also many armor options, biomechanical implants, personal shields, and various useful equipment items for you and your party, including armor and weapon upgrades.

If any element stands out in KOTOR, it has to be the characters in your party. Every character has depth and a detailed back story: murderous droid, renegade Wookie, fallen Jedi, and more. They react with each other, offer their insight on the game’s developments, and flesh out the gaming experience. Unlike most CRPGs, these guys are far more than pack mules or cannon fodder.

I should probably wrap this section up by saying that the music and sound effects in this game are top notch, including hours of the best voice acting I’ve heard. This is vitally important in KOTOR, since so much is determined by conversation. I think the conversation options in KOTOR are the strongest example of role playing in the game. You customize your character far more by determining what to say, than by assigning points to specific attributes.

The Bad
In spite of all KOTOR has going for it, KOTOR comes off as an unpolished gem. This game is already racking up Game of the Year nods, and definitely deserves it, but doesn’t make the leap to “Best Game Ever”. First off, this release is buggy. There are a few typos, some crashes, and interesting quirks that motivate the player to save frequently.

Here are some other nitpicks: Aliens speak to you in their native tongue with the translated dialogue appearing in subtitles. This is great even though it seems that each species has the same looping dialogue. However, their speech tends to go on longer than it should. While not everyone reads at the same speed, it would be nice if the designers had either cut some of the alien soundtrack down or used more dynamic visuals during the dialogue scenes—added interesting camera angles, made the characters more animated while they spoke, etc.

Minigames. KOTOR has three types of minigames found throughout the game. The first one you experience is Pazaak, a card game closer to Blackjack than Sabacc. I think elements of Pazaak will always be problematic, but playing it could be more fun if the characters you played against taunted you, if you could actually see people turn over cards (attempt to read their expressions, etc), or at the very least, print the name of the person you are playing against instead of just having “Opponent” written over their deck of cards.

The other two minigames: swoop racing and a space combat turret sequence, are arcade games you run into while playing KOTOR. While I enjoyed these games, at certain points you have to beat them to advance in the game. RPGs shouldn’t require great dexterity on the part of the player, so I’d call making these minigames mandatory a misstep.

If there’s one thing that didn’t ring true in this game it’s the setting: 4000 years before the movies. I’m not familiar with the Expanded Universe, but I expected a more primitive setting than the one found here. Familiar names like Organa and Fett kept popping up. Sith ships looked similar to Imperial capital ships. Maybe I’m wrong, but think about Earth 400 years ago, let alone 4000.

Finally… well KOTOR is an RPG, but it’s scripted such that your character has to be human and become a Jedi (there’s a level capping issue I don’t even want to get into). It would be nice (in a sequel) to have the chance to play the game as a nonhuman and a non-Jedi. I think more adaptability would redraw the line between RPG and Third Person Action/Adventure—a line that seems blurred in KOTOR.

The Bottom Line
At one point in KOTOR, your character is presented with a hypothetical situation: You are the commander-in-chief. You have intercepted an enemy transmission. In five days, one of your cities will be attacked. In ten days, the enemy will exhibit a critical weakness allowing you to defeat them. Do you alert the city, letting the enemy know you’ve intercepted their plans or do you let your city get destroyed so you can beat your enemy? While this situation is hypothetical, it is similar to the choices your character will have to make throughout KOTOR.

KOTOR is an action-packed RPG, with worlds full of scum, villainy, valiance, and nobility. The story is focused, gripping, and poignant. I highly recommend this game.

FYI: I completed the game in a little under 36 hours.

Windows · by Terrence Bosky (5375) · 2003

Spectacular. One of my top 5 of all time.

The Good
The 3rd Edition D&D works flawlessly in this game. The developers clearly took their time considering all the amazing breadth available in 3e but selected that which would most augment how they wanted the game to work. It IS boiled down, probably to increase accessibility to multiple audiences, so D&D purists might have issues with only 3 character classes and 3 jedi "occupations", as well as only having a couple dozen feats and spells. That said, it is my opinion that the distillation of complex (and even confusing to me) D&D rules down only helps the game and never hinders it. Graphically it is excellent, though recent releases such as DX:IW or Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell look better.

Environments are unique, expansive, and immersive. Visual effects are extremely well done (a great example is the Jedi Guardian's "force jump" ability). Player models are reasonably well varied, though by the end of the game, you've seen them all...twice.

The sound is excellent throughout. I recommend playing it (as I do all games) on a good set of expensive stereo headphones and discarding speakers all together. The original score (thank you!) is compelling and suitable in all the environments, and the sound effects are great. Voice acting is superb, probably the best voice acting I've heard in any genre.

Plot is compelling, though I recommend playing the game for at least 1.5 hours at a time, or it can feel disjointed, simply because there are a multitude of tasks to complete, and each takes time. There are numerous, non-fetch sidequests to do. KOTOR really stands out in the quality of its sidequests, which are not numerous, but are well designed. Be prepared for puzzles in the main plot line and on the side. I had trouble with them, but they're likely only of average difficulty. What I'd say makes this game so much better than just about any game i've played in the past 5 years is the small things. Like how in cutscenes your facial features reflect your force alignment. Or the way fight-scenes look almost like action games, but are based on your basic die-roll. Or the relationships the NPC's in your party develop. Or the way you can customize your lightsabers. Or The moral flexibility that occurs throughout the entirety of the game (excluding certain key decisions). I could go on.

The game is fundamentally excellently designed and executed, yet it's the minor additions that really make it stand out. I can't stress this game enough.

The Bad
Blasters are underpowered, especially against jedi. Repetitive facial models for NPC's. Not enough lightsaber colors! Inability to engage in unprompted violence against NPC's.

The Bottom Line
A must play. I refer any people considering this game to read PC gamer's review or the one on gamespot.com.

Windows · by Marty Bonus (39) · 2004

If you think all Star Wars games are bad, take a look at this

The Good
This is a game that has it all: a great story about love, hate and deception, a fantastic cast of characters, a well-written, well acted out dialogue, interesting locations and satisfying weapons and equipment. If you're a fan of the Star Wars universe and want to play an involving RPG then look no further, this is your dream come true. But even if you're just looking for a great RPG you're not going to be disappointed. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic delivers. It even has somewhat pretty graphics!

The Bad
Unfortunately this game is full of bugs. No show stoppers, but irritating little ones like sometimes your characters stats gets stuck after being reduced by a dark jedi. No fun. Other times one of your characters just stops moving in mid-combat and just stands there and takes a beating. No fun either. And if you play the game for a few hours on end it is bound to eventually crash. Not at all fun. And lastly the controls.. who was the genious that thought up the mouse-look function of KotOR?! It's a game in true 3D but you're only allowed to look left and right (if you want to move at the same time)!

The Bottom Line
This game is so much fun it hurts. Really, it does. You just don't want it to end, but after around 30-40 hours it will. Its strongest point is definitely the story. it has twists and turns you just can't foresee and all the great side quests and sub missions really make you come back over and over again. A neat feature is that you can play both sides of the coin: you choose for yourself if you want to be a light jedi or a dark jedi. Lots of replayability in this one!

Windows · by Mattias Kreku (413) · 2003

Bioware – you can only admire those clever wizards!

The Good
The people at Bioware have to be true masters in the philosophical art, that is game-design. "Knights of the old Republic" is the most powerful proof therefore, the design of that game is so clever, so smart, it's hard to believe sometimes. One of the most impressing things about this Bioware-baby is actually, how versatile it is, how intelligent it serves the needs of many completely different types of game-consumers...

"Knights of the old Republic" certainly has more mainstream-appeal than all previous Bioware-releases. Remember only "Baldur's Gate". You had to know the quite complicated AD&D-rules-system to have a chance in that game, otherwise you would have been lost without hope. Even then, combat was everything but easy, challenging you to the max. That sure was fun for experienced RPG-players, but frustrating for others.

"Knights of the old Republic" is much more flexible, offering the player three different grades of difficulty. Furthermore, the experienced RPGer can manually determine for each character of the party, which of the numerous attributes, skills, feats and force powers should be further developed – while others simply let an automatic routine do the work. Same goes for inventory-management: the newbies can simply click on a button to dress up the best way possible, while others have room to experiment.

To be honest, the tactical depth of the fights is on neither of the three difficulty-grades as high, as it was in "Baldur's Gate". But more important is, that you always feel, the designers are in control of the difficulty: there is a noticeable learning curve and the game feels always well balanced – this is certainly not a matter of course in roleplaying these days! And I haven't even mentioned, how great those battles are presented. "Knights of the old Republic" uses the well proven "Infinity Engine", which means real-time-combat, that can be paused at any time, to give orders to your party. And watching those combat-scenes sure is a blast, as they manage to resemble the well known movie-scenes in quiet an astonishing way.

But combat is in my opinion not the only thing that makes role-playing interesting. The game also features a really interesting RPG-system with quite numerous possibilities to shape your main-character the way you want. Apart from violent skills you can also learn, for example, to hack into computers for shutting down the security-systems of enemy-bases. Or you can reach your goals by persuading people, instead of killing them. The best thing about the RPG-system is actually, that it reflects the moral choices, you make during the game. Followers of the dark side will develop entirely different force powers as servants of the light. Last but not least, the opportunity to upgrade your equipment is executed brilliantly and allows nice experimenting.

"Knights of the old Republic“ is one of the very rare games, that I truly hold in high regard and that at the same time sold really well. Of course it is likely, that the name "Star Wars" on the box has contributed a lot to the games commercial success – but I don't believe that to be the only reason. Equally important is in my eyes, that people with less time or will to dive deep into the material, are this time not excluded from the joy. And the game manages to stay interesting for the hardcore-fraction as well – I consider myself an experienced RPGer and I can tell you, I had a lot of fun!

Let's go further and reflect about the things, the presentation of a game is important for. I would say, the presentation of a game should create and by all means adhere to a specific illusion. In this case though, the presentation rather recreates a specific illusion – the illusion of the Star Wars movies. And "Knights of the old Republic" does even more: it enriches this illusion quite significant.

A good example is the soundtrack. We hear a lot of familiar themes while playing, as the brilliant score by John Williams is used to a great effect. But there's also a huge amount of original music featured, that hits the typical Star Wars style perfectly – like the beautiful theme, we get to hear on Dantooine. Sound effects also do a lot to enhance the atmosphere: from the buzzing of the lightsabers to the bleeping of the droids, everything is there.

The graphics are beautiful. The game uses a better version of the graphics-engine already seen in "Neverwinter Nights", which means 3D-environments instead of an isometric view. I remember being on Tatooine, that desert planet you know from a couple of movies, and I really had the feeling of entering the world of Star Wars. Landing on Tatooine, you actually arrive in a mining colony first. Building stands next to building, there is a feeling of narrowness somehow. But that's used to a great effect, when you finally leave the colony and enter the vastness of the desert, giving you a fantastic view. And there is an image, that will evoke familiar feelings in the minds of all Star Wars fans: a giant, heavily damaged sandcrawler, just like we witnessed it through the eyes of Luke Skywalker in the very first movie. That giant object in that flat, beautiful landscape serves not only as quite an impressing image, it also recreates the atmosphere of the movies by discreetly referring to them.

So, the images, the game creates, truly breathe the atmosphere of Star Wars. But it does more than only citing the movies. We also visit planets never seen in any cinema, the most impressing one probably being Rakatan. I really felt like walking through a piece of art, instead of just standing in front of it. (I only wished, the Neverwinter Nights engine would allow me more freedom of view, while exploring this wonderful landscapes...)

Of course, the game world is not only depicted through images. You can speak to many interesting characters, you can complete an enormous amount of non-obligatory side-quests, you can always stop and enjoy the many amazing details. The movies simply had no time to show their world in such detail, as they had only about two hours to tell their heroes-save-the-galaxy-tale.

"Knights of the old Republic“ truly outshines the movies when it comes to attention for details. Let's take the games characters for example. Bioware was always great, when it came to characterization – and this time they really outdid themselves. As the game takes place 4000 years before the events of the movies, you won't meet any characters you already know. And trust me: you won't miss them at all, as they will appear flat in comparison to the ones you get to know in this game.

Darth Malak is a great example for a very well conceived main villain. He's not just someone you kill in the end, he's a distinct and almost tragic personality. A character, that can remind you of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" sometimes, as he is indeed a very intelligent person, who became terribly misguided and now spreads tyranny over his world.

The most convincing characters are of course those, that follow you on your journey. They all come with their own background-stories and they talk a lot to you. I was really surprised, when Carth Onassi, a soldier for the Republic, suddenly suspected me of being a traitor. It really gave me the impression of dealing with a living, self-thinking individual – something I rarely felt within the boundaries of a video game.

Adding to that is an absolutely convincing cast of voice-actors, that truly suit their particular roles. Mimics and gestures were also stunningly naturalistic – gotta give credits to the animators. But the most important thing are the dialogues, which are written with perfect style. I found it a pleasant surprise that some great humorous attempts found their way into this overall quite serious game as well. Love that crazy droid HK-47! And really funny are the conversations with the Jawas on Tatooine: those little guys had very amusing ways of expressing themselves...

I still haven't lost one word about the main-story, yet. I haven't forgotten about that. I just wished to spare the best part for the very end of this section.

Well, you could certainly summarize, that you once again have to stop the evil plans of some evil guys. But that is not, what the story is really about. The real theme of the story is quite actually ethics. That theme is at the bottom of every little quest, it hides in nearly every dialogue and is the centre of every single of the countless little stories, the game tells within its big one.

I recommend, you also read the review by JazzOleg, as it is most interesting, what he wrote about the ethical conflict and the behind-standing philosophies, comparing the Jedi to Chinese monks. However, my own thoughts went into completely other directions, as I found it most surprising, that even your worst enemies, the Sith, follow their own moral code – something, the movies never told us.

You actually not only fight the Sith, you get to talk to them, as well. And in doing so, you will discover, that they are still human, that they have still feelings, after all. They are misguided. "Knights of the old Republic" strongly emphasizes on the fact, that everyone can fall to the dark side, every person has that potential. The Sith are often portrayed as extremely selfish, they are actually quite focused on their career. A lot of their thoughts circulate around intrigues, around ways to climb up the ladder in their hierarchy. It fits to their Darwin-like philosophy of a natural selection, where only the strongest survive. That philosophy – the fact, that there's always danger from the lower ranks – makes sure, that only the strongest stay in leading positions. And when only the strongest are in leading positions, it strengthens the Sith as a whole.

It is actually quite easy, to see some parallels to reality here. We live in an achievement-oriented society, that works in many ways quite similar. And I believe, our society also tends to teach young people, to care for themselves mainly. So, were the movies basically just a science-fiction-fairy-tale, you can easily establish a more down-to-earth-like view on "Knights of the old Republic" and actually see "the dark side" more or less as a metaphor for self-centered real-life-behaviour.

What I was often asking myself, while playing, is the following: is it possible, that a game with such a strong emphasis on moral decisions can also lead to reflections about your behaviour in real life? And when that is true, can such a game actually teach people something valuable – especially the younger ones? I'm not sure about that. But nevertheless – call me crazy, if you want – I really see some deeper value in "Knights of the old Republic". Even if it's just a Star Wars game, it definitely goes beyond pure entertainment.

The Bad
There really isn't much to say in this section, at least nothing really important. But for the sake of completeness...

The role-playing-system is quite interesting and well executed, but not to be called perfect. There is a number of talents, that proofed to be rather useless. Why invest points into "security" (nothing but lock-picking), when you could easily bash everything open by using your weapons? Putting points into some passive force powers like "Force Immunity“ or "Force Energy Resistance“ was close to waste them, either.

I already mentioned, that the engine doesn't feed you with as much freedom in view, as I would have liked it. Also, the exploration of the planets was often restrained by rather ridiculous limitations. There you stand sometimes, having gained the maximum level in your "Force Jump“-ability, and a tiny little rock has the means of blocking your way. Very strange...

The Bottom Line
You might have already realized, that I'm extremely enthusiastic about this game. Normally, I don't use superlatives in such an inflationary way. But it just seems appropriate to me, when it comes to "Knights of the old Republic" - I simply call it a triumph for the video game industry.

You should really check this out, even if you don't like Star Wars. Even if you're completely new to the genre, this is no hindrance, as the game really takes not-so-experienced players by the hand. The only thing you should be sure of is, that you really have the time for this game, because it really is absorbing and once you're into it, it can be hard to find back into the real world.

Windows · by micnictic (387) · 2008

Excellent, if not juvenile

The Good
Clearly SW:KOTOR is one of the best Star Wars games that have been recently released. One had to wonder whether LucasArts had lost their edge, respect, and credibility in game design…that is, until KOTOR hit. They were wise in privileging BioWare as the developers: BioWare is a highly talented design studio who (along with Black Isle) crafted the excellent Baldur's Gate, which this game seems to be heavily drawn from.

The best aspect of this game is the depth of the RPG system, seamlessly presented in an understandable, easy-to-pick-up format. Couple the game with its graphics that can be nothing short of amazing, and one can easily find the value in this title. Subquests are also varied (at one point, I was the lawyer and chief investigator in a murder case) and the minigames refreshing; minigame resembling pod-drag racing and futuristic intergalactic Blackjack fused with a bit of Magic: The Gathering.

Knights of the Old Republic also possesses a strong story that, while clichéd, is compelling and addictive; it will draw you in just as it had with me, complete with several good twists that will have you saying "why didn't I realize this before?". I especially like how thoroughly the designers worked in your actions with the game; I experienced the consequences of my choices hours down the line in several instances. Character interaction is another strong point: not only is every single line of text in the game voice-acted (something surprising for an RPG), but the acting is well done and quite convincing. I especially love Carth's voice; his performance is convincing and emotional and the diction alone lends a unique aura to who you perceive him to be. Equally cool are the alien languages, which are not spoken in accented English but rather their native alien tongues with subtitled text.

Speaking of sound, KOTOR's sound is excellent. The music is original yet retains the Star-Wars theme without sounding too clichéd. Any game I seriously consider hacking into just for extracting the music is surely worthy of a complement. The sounds themselves are pulled straight from the Official Star Wars soundbanks, so everything is realistic.

Another fine point are the character animations. You can tell everything was motion-captured and then refined, as the animations are varied, realistic, and wholly believable to watch. Sabreplay, a critical element of the game, is truly breathtaking to observe in it's full fluidity.

The Bad
That said, KOTOR has it fair share of flaws. Unfortunately, as good as Bioware is at storytelling, and as good, compelling, and solid as the game design is, it is also riddled with cliché dialog and half-baked plot events. The term "Battle Meditation" is used frequently--referring to one character and her unique ability, and you are given no clear indication as to what it specifically does, even to the game's ending.

The game is clearly tailored for the younger teenage audience. Most mature subjects are quickly skirted over, if not completely skipped altogether. While this isn’t such a bad thing, it takes away from the gamer’s experience and feeling of immersion as the superficiality of the virtual world becomes evident. As expected, there's no blood (is there any in Star Wars at all?). The game feels very family-friendly, which I suppose is an asset to many, but as I mentioned before, I see it as a downfall. Also present in are a couple of unnecessary political statements being made: the consequences of following the "right" way seem to be blown out of proportion a little too harsh. At one point, I was permanently banned from one of the game's cities for not acting as the EPA and PETA would have wanted me to act: I chose to play a morally neutral individual, and saw the quickest means to an end in deploying a sort of pesticide to rid the game of an objective-blocking nuisance. This in turn destroyed an entire planet's worth of important material and got me banned for life.

Part of the problem was compounded by the game designers’ city-centric method of designing the game’s location. The entire planet is a barren, useless wasteland, with the exception of the one inhabited city. Even though I was engaging in interstellar travel, I didn’t feel like the planets were truly worthy of their size; as in the above case, I was wondering, “Did I just wipe out the entire planet’s supply of _? Yeesh!”.

I also have a few complaints with the interface, that of which could have been further refined for the PC audience. All interface screens seem to be designed for low-resolutions--a necessity paying homage to the game's Xbox roots. The text inside this interface is extremely large, and on a 1024x768 game resolution I could read no more than two sentences' worth of descriptor text when looking at my inventory. The target size of 640x480 is apparent.

Sound wise, some of the alien voices become redundant. There are only so many suitable clips for each type of dialog, that in some cases, they become audibly redundant and mildly annoying. Also, (and this is just a really minor qualm) the crossbows sound like blasters. They had their own unique sound in every other Star Wars game I can remember, and I think I even spotted the crossbow sound bite being used for another weapon. That said, gunplay sounds are extremely generic: the same blaster sound is used for almost every gun. It just sounds...odd.

Finally, the game should have spent a little more time for debugging, as there were a number of problems I experienced. My system runs dual monitors--something unusual but not as different as you might think--and the game crashed on me constantly. The mouse cursor would not lock onto the monitor the game was running on, so frequently I would click on something on the other monitor without realizing it, and the game would minimize to the desktop. The fix is simple enough; open the game again and everything is fine.... usually. Sometimes, the game would become unbearably slow or just flat out crashed. I also noticed crashes whenever I went to unexplored planets in the first half of the game.

The Bottom Line
Knights of the Old Republic is to Baldur's Gate what Anachronox is to Final Fantasy. Both are Sci-fi RPGs, and both use a gameplay style that is both inherited and simplified from their ancestors. Both are excellent games marred with a few minor flaws.

Once you get past the game's minor quirks, you have a highly enjoyable Star Wars gaming experience. My save file registered almost 38 hours of gameplay from start to finish, and I still want to go through the game again, just explore the possibilities of playing the dark side. I think it falls just a few marks short of “Game of the Year”, but then again most of my complaints are either nit-picking or based on a unique playing style: all problems that are easy to overlook.

High in both fun factor, length, and replay value, KOTOR is a title not to be missed.

Windows · by luciphercolors (67) · 2003

After a long line of bad Star Wars games there is finally one that rivals any RPG on any system, this game is simply that amazing.

The Good
First off this game is simply the best game I have ever played. The graphics are just as good as they were on the Xbox. The interface is a ton different from the Xbox version, but it is still well crafted and easy to use. The load and save times are so much quicker that even if you own this game for Xbox, like I do, you will want to buy it for PC simply because it loads and saves so quickly. I could go on forever, about how good this game is. The storyline is simply amazing. It is great to be able to become a light jedi or a dark master of the universe.

The Bad
The lengthy cutscenes between planets are a little anoying, but nothing to be overtly concerned about.

The Bottom Line
Star Wars games are gettin better all the time. I mean we have a halo like fps game called Star Wars Republic Commando, and a Battlefield 1942 like game called Star Wars Battlefront. Buy this game.

Windows · by Jester236 (34) · 2004

Straddles that line between good and great.

The Good
First, the graphics are pretty good. People will move their lips while talking, the terrain is nicely detailed etc. Next, the amount of interaction is pretty food. You'll always have a ton of dialouge choices when you talk to characters, (which will have a signifigant effect on your force alignment and how other characters act). Next, there is a ton of weapons, armor, grenades etc. that you can get.

The Bad
Well first, this thing is a total memory hog. It takes up 4 Gigabytes which is more than 20% of my hard drive! Next, the game is very buggy. Sometimes it can lock up, others it will get a player "caught" on a wall. (Although patches have helped). Sometimes, using the force to persuade people is kinda boring. You just click on it and if you are good enough, you succeed. If your character doesn't have the required stats, you don't succeed. This lack of skill based gameplay for parts of the game is somewhat disappointing. Next, this games runs quite slow unless you have at least 1.4 GHZ processor Which I don't have:( Finally, combat is somewhat lackluster. You just arm your weapon and tell him to attack (although admitadly, there are moves you can do that change the stats of your attacks) and he'll attack the same way 50 times in a row (or however long). They all seem to have only a couple animations for attacking. Finally, the planets can seem a bit disappointing. You can explore through a whole planet in a little less than several hours. The fact that every planet has 1 city and everything around it is barren wasteland is kinda disappointing.

The Bottom Line
This is a pretty good game, but don't believe the hype. It's not a game that will change your life.

Windows · by James Kirk (150) · 2004

Compared to "Academy" this game blew!

The Good
The Graphics were ok and the sound was fine

The Bad
The player control was very limited next to other Star Wars games and the dialogue, though comical was so frequent it was annoying. Frankly I had neither the time nor the patience to finish this game and felt extremely jipped of the time lost.

The Bottom Line
a slow paced game of insanely long conversations which is for those who have time to to wait for some action and don't wish to take part in it with your character. If you liked the game play on other "Jedi" related games you'll be better off spending your time and money else where.

Windows · by Yehoshua Katser (1) · 2004

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by chirinea, Koroner, Alsy, Big John WV, Wizo, Patrick Bregger, Zechs_, Jacob Gens, Jeanne, Xoleras, Kabushi, Tim Janssen, COBRA-COBRETTI, jaXen, vedder, Cavalary, Klaster_1, Jack Torrance, Emmanuel de Chezelles, Cantillon, Alaedrain.