STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC
What is it about?
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (SWKOTOR) is a role-playing game set in the Star Wars universe 4,000 years before the rise of the Empire. Developed by Bioware and published by Lucas Arts, it was released on Xbox and PC in 2003 and Mac in 2004. Darth Malak, a Sith Dark Lord and previously Darth Raven’s apprentice, has launched a large scale assault against the Republic. The Republic is left defenseless and depleting in number as more and more Republicans swear allegiance to the winning Sith Lord each day. You start your journey aboard the space ship, Endar Spire, which is destroyed by Malak’s fleets. Saving the universe from the Sith Lord’s carnage and winning the war for the Republic or knocking off Malak to assume leadership of the Dark side – that’s what SWKOTOR is all about.
Why should I play it now?
SWKOTOR is one of the best games in the Star Wars franchise, and having been developed by Bioware, it offers excellent RPG mechanics. The dialogue system is such that you choose from a list of dialogue options and progress. The combat gameplay is turn-based, although it may deceive some with its fluid combat when the game pause is turned off. Combat involves a fair amount of strategy as well. As you speak to people in the world, you get to know of more and more quests, most of which offer good reward for your efforts even if not directly associated with the progression. SWKOTOR offers hours and hours of gameplay with rich, artistic visuals and top notch voice-overs enhanced by the wonderful soundtrack. If you’re an RPG or a Star Wars fan and haven’t played SWKOTOR, you’ve missed out on something special and now is as good a time as any to rectify that.
How does it hold up today?
SWKOTOR holds up as well as many of today’s RPG titles, if not better. The visuals feel a bit dated, but it is definitely one of the better depicted Star Wars titles over the years. Star Wars fans will dig SWKOTOR for its visuals. The soundtrack and voice-overs are excellent too. Throughout the game, the voice-overs remain fresh, making the player feel in tune with the environment. SWKOTOR has a lot of bugs, but nothing mars the overall gameplay experience.
Is it similar to anything else out there?
SWKOTOR’s rules take a cue from Dungeons and Dragons and hence RPG veterans will find many of the aspects similar to one game or another. It doesn’t redefine or reinvent the genre, but what sets it apart is the Star Wars lore, and any fan would appreciate it for that.
What do I need to play this?
SWKOTOR turned out to be pretty demanding when it released, and it requires at least a Pentium 3 class processor (1 Ghz), 256 MB of RAM, 32 MB of video memory, 3.5 GB of hard disk space and Direct X 9.0 b or better to run smoothly on Windows. If you’re planning to run the game on a Mac, you’ll need at least a clock speed of 1.8 Ghz , 512 MB of RAM, 5 GB of hard disk space, 128 MB of video memory with something like the Nvidia 7300 GPU. Although my Windows 7 PC has more than the requisite hardware configuration, I experienced a lot of stuttering in the game. It never really affected gameplay though.
‘When I played through…’
SWKOTOR is one of the very few games for which I had maintained two different save files – one with light side progression and one with the dark side progression. I’d kept the progression level in both files in parallel, so that I got to see the outcome of each scenario side-by-side. This way, I could be the goody-goody Republican Knight and a dark side badass at the same time, and felt no guilt about it. I wouldn’t know if it works for others, but I got immense satisfaction out of it.
Is there anything else I should be aware of (ie mods, crazy glitches, contribution to pop culture, Internet meme, etc)?
The game has a lot of bugs, such as NPCs warping on-screen or disappearing from one place and reappearing in another, etc. SWKOTOR also has this invisible wall around each character which gets really annoying when a character stands near you or when two or more characters surround you. You’d often get stuck and will have to wait for something to happen to get the space to move out. SWKOTOR only supports resolutions up to 1024×768. If you want higher resolutions, you can search for high resolution mods or widescreen mods to suit your display.
Where do I get it?
SWKOTOR is available on Steam for $9.99 and supports Steamplay as well. I bought my copy for $5 in a Steam sale and in the past, it has also dropped to as low as $2.5. Moral of the story – wait for a Steam sale to pick it up at a bargain, unless you’re feeling generous. If you’re looking to play the console version, the Xbox version is compatible with the Xbox 360.