Movies have always been a questionable source of videogame adaptations, largely because films tend to have intricate storylines and their characters don’t spend a lot of time jumping around, collecting powerups, or fighting random battles for money and experience points. Thus, it was with trepidation that the Star Wars community, then polarized by the prequel trilogy, with odd contempt towards series creator George Lucas, and used to many hit-or-miss Star Wars games, received the announcement that BioWare was developing, and LucasArts publishing, a PC/Xbox role-playing game based on the epic franchise. Imagine the relief, however, when Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic turned out to be a pretty solid offering, consequentially finding greater acceptance among series fans not to mention new life about a decade later on various iOS devices.
KotOR takes place about four millennia than the movies, and actually sports a better story than the prequel and original trilogies, both full of plot holes and basically driven by characters and institutions that exercised poor judgment, with an excellent plot twist a ways through the game, multiple plot branches to the Light or Dark Sides, an endearing cast of characters, and varied endings and beginnings, depending upon decisions the player makes, and which class and gender the player chooses when beginning a new game. There are a few grammatical errors in the game script, but otherwise, the story is one of the game’s high points.
The gameplay fortunately serves KotOR well. The player’s active party consists of the protagonist and two allies of various classes, from humans to aliens to droids (although odds are that the player will want an all Force-user party), with combat commenced when enemies come into sight and the action pausing to allow the player to queue commands for use against foes. When the player resumes the action, characters execute their queued actions sequentially, and if the player doesn’t like their commands, they can always disengage and then reengage combat to input new commands. There are certain commands the player can’t queue when the action isn’t paused, but otherwise, the battle system helps the game more than hurts, with adjustable difficulty sure to appeal to players who prefer various degrees of challenge in their games.
The control is decent as well, with an easy menu system, always-handy save-anywhere feature, in-game maps, and a good direction at most points on how to advance, although the space shooter minigame is sometimes mandatory to advance and can be difficult depending upon the player’s skill, and there are maybe a few puzzles that may drive players to use a guide. Otherwise, KotOR interfaces well with the player although there are issues leaving room for improvement.
The composer for the most part does a nice job filling in from prequel/original trilogy composer John Williams, nicely imitating his style with plenty of sweeping epic tracks, although there are some occasional places devoid of music. The voice acting is well above average, as well, whether in Galactic Basic (essentially, English), or one of various alien languages. In the end, a nice-sounding game.
The visuals have also aged considerably well given that KotOR is roughly ten years old, with the designers, for instance, making the rare decision of having different equipment affect each character’s appearance, although there are some bland textures at times when seen close-up, and the FMVs are slightly grainy.
Finally, the game takes around twenty hours to complete, with an assortment of sidequests chiefly boosting playing time unless players lock themselves into a point of no return towards the end. Overall, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a solid licensed RPG that hits most of the right notes, particularly with regards to its combat system, story, music, voicework, and visuals, and doesn’t leave too much room for improvement, aside from the issues with the mandatory shooter minigame and puzzles that may drive players to use a guide. Given the success of the first game, it would naturally receive a sequel, with the original sure to please even the most unpleasable Star Wars fan.
This review is based on a playthrough on an iPad Mini.
+Solid gameplay and control.
+Superb story with variations.
+Excellent music, voice acting, and graphics.
-Shooter minigame can be a wall preventing advancement.
-Some places can be hard without a guide.
-Some areas without music.
The Bottom Line:
One of the best licensed RPGs available.
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Playing Time: 15-25 Hours