Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic PC Review

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:LucasArts
Developer:BioWare Corp.
Release Date:2003-07-15
Genre:
  • Action,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Lasting Value

With just three classes to choose from at the beginning, it may appear that the replayability in the game is potentially lacking. As I found out in my short viewing of KotOR at E3, first impressions can be misleading. During the course of the game, you'll choose to become one of three new classes of Jedi, each substantially different from each other in abilities and force power point consumption. Now take into consideration the freedom to choose between the well-balanced Light & Dark paths, each with their own unique arsenal of force powers. Then tack on nine NPC party members throughout the game, including two droids. Each of them has their own storyline, quests (well, most of them), and unique leveling options. Finally, consider the length of the game, and that nearly all quests and encounters have both a light and dark solution, and you'll see that there is much room for replayability.

That's really just the half of it, though. Through the combat in the game and manipulation of the game world, both in persuasion and espionage, you'll really get a sense of how your choices in character progression are playing themselves out. This is especially true in combat. Each new force power and feat you choose has usually a dramatic effect on how you play. Watching your characters in battle is just plain satisfying and fun. By the end of the game, you'll likely be curious enough about the other force powers you missed during this play through, and especially at how the other side of the force will play out during the major quests to warrant another play through. If that's not enough, you'll get one very different satisfying ending for each the light and dark side. To tell the truth, this is one of the few RPGs I have replayed several times. It's that fun.

Bugs, Issues & Documentation

Thankfully, many of the Xbox-related bugs and issues have been worked out, but some still remain, and of course a few other issues related to the PC have surfaced, though only two to my knowledge affected me in my play through. The transitioning between FMV movies was too long for my tastes, much longer than in the Xbox version, and I have a fairly fast computer, well above the recommended specs. The load times in general, though, were immensely better than on the console. I have also experienced some random graphic stuttering, which both came and went sporadically throughout the game. Overall, apart from the occasional stuttering with my 2.4Ghz Ti4600, 512mb RAM machine, the framerate was silky smooth in most places, with 2x anti-aliasing, anisotropic filtering and all other options checked. Of all the places, I would say outside in Taris, your first major location in the game, was the worst for stuttering. I would give it some time to smooth out if this happens to you.

Additional changes I would have recommended the PC version implement would have been a quick weapon switch function, an intelligent interface that remembers your last feat used or the one used most often during combat, and defaults to that, instead of requiring the user cycle through to the appropriate one much of the time, and re-mappable mouse buttons. The manual that comes with the PC version is spiral bound, well laid out, and includes many useful charts for character progression and alignment at the back that weren't included in the Xbox manual, a definite plus.

Conclusion

It's very rare for a game to be strong in as many ways as BioWare's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and refreshing to play one that has found its own style and succeeds. From the brilliantly executed Light vs. Dark approach, to the superb voice acting and rich, immersive worlds, KotOR feels like a tour on a pleasure cruise from start to finish, visiting foreign ports and finding adventure. It is an RPG that now stands with my very favorites, for its own unique reasons. One does not have to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy it, and I would eagerly recommend it to anyone looking for a gaming adventure. It's as much that as it is an RPG, combining the right mix of storytelling, danger and RPG elements. The bottom line: there is enough game here to justify the purchase of the gaming rig that plays it.