I will begin the “My RPG Of The Month” series with an absolute classic; Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic. Be warned, there will be very minor spoilers ahead.
I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since I was very young, watching all of the movies over and over. I remember that my first ACTUAL foray into Star Wars games was in fact the Lego Star Wars series, and that’s what got me into Star Wars. There weren’t many Star Wars games on the PlayStation 2 at the time, but my main two were Star Wars Battlefront 2, and Star Wars The Force Unleashed. They were amazing games, but while they were fun and brought many hours of joy, they didn’t feel personal. I longed to make my OWN Jedi, be my OWN character. Control my OWN destiny. But I would have to wait about 9 years before I found one.
Then 2015 came, and that’s when I found it. I had never gotten into the Expanded Universe side of Star Wars, but my friends suggested I pick up an original Xbox game called Knights Of The Old Republic. I was sceptical, because we’re in the age of graphics, and I was slightly worried that it wouldn’t look good or even be playable on my 360.
So it arrived, and I loaded it up, and was surprised by how good it actually looked. Sure, it wasn’t the most beautiful game, but it looked amazing for its age (it was released in 2003 after all). So I picked my character’s stats, class, gender and looks (no custom faces at that time, but still a choice), and jumped in.
The game opened with an epic space battle between The Old Republic and The Sith Empire (the game is set about 3000-4000 years before the movies). You wake up on a ship, amnesia striking you, and you have no idea where you are or what’s going on. A crewmate runs in, and gives you the rundown of what’s happening, and – almost hilariously – breaks the fourth wall by telling you how to play the game.
The game then throws you into combat, and various possibilities of how to build your character. You can focus on playing as a hacker, or a tech junkie, or a melee/blaster character. The game finishes the tutorial, and Bioware basically says “Here is the game. Play your way”. And this is where perhaps the coolest part of the game comes in; the Light/Dark metre.
As you play the game, in classic Bioware fashion, you’ll need to make decisions that affect the story and characters. These often take two forms; The selfless, kind-hearted Light Side options, or the violent, aggressive Dark Side options. As you pick these, you start to shift towards the one you do the most, and anything could affect these. Do you help the lonely beggar, or rob him? Do you save the man from vicious Rakghouls, or let him die? Do you save the Wookiees, or condemn them to enslavement? The game gives you the choice to do whatever you believe is the best option to do, and ultimately determines whether you’re a light Jedi, or a dark Sith Lord.
The combat in this game took a little getting used to. It uses turn-based combat; you decide you and your party’s moves for that round, then wait till the enemy performs theirs, and repeat until one dies. This adds to the RPG feel of the game; classical RPGs used this style of combat, and even today, Bioware’s Dragon Age series is turn-based. It may not be real-time, but it’s still a lot of fun.
What I loved about KOTOR is how it made me CARE about the characters. Every single one of them made me care somewhat; even if I disliked them, I still cared. Whether it be the assassin droid HK-47, the Mandalorian mercenary Canderous Ordo, the Jedi consular Bastila Shan, the Wookiee ex-slave Zaalbar, or even the Republic pilot Carth Onasi , whose whining and cry-baby like attitude towards you makes me want to slash him in half with my lightsaber. Despite this, I cared about him, and the others. They all had their own story, their own mannerisms, their own baggage, and their own priorities. They felt REAL, and that’s what Bioware often does so well.
Essentially, Knights Of The Old Republic was the game I’d been waiting for; a story I could call my own. The twists and turns, especially the MASSIVE plot twist halfway through (I won’t spoil it, but even if you don’t play it, go and watch a YouTube playthrough on the game, just so you can experience it), took me into the world and made me feel these as if I was actually in the game. If you haven’t played it yet, then find it cheap on original Xbox or PC, or even on the Android app store, and experience what is perhaps one of Bioware’s greatest masterpieces.