With Star Wars: The Old Republic's hype level reaching an all-time high, GameZone has turned their attention to BioWare's original Knights of the Old Republic for a quick retrospective that also provides an analysis of how the two titles handle specific mechanics differently. A little something to start you off:
The combat in Knights of the Old Republic feels very similar to online RPGs, but it has its own unique touches. Fighting consists of positioning yourself near your enemy and slowly whittling their health down with normal attacks and special skills that have to recharge after use. The combat is methodical and based on behind-the-scenes dice-rolls in a style not unfamiliar to Dungeons and Dragons. This is very similar to how combat in most modern MMOs plays out. The major difference between the two is the ability to pause and control your squad-mates in KotOR, and the limited size of your party. This gives you full control over every part of the battle you are engaged in and removes some of the stress involved in real-time combat. MMOs obviously lack this pause feature, but they also boast larger party numbers. You may have to give up some control over your traveling companions when switching to an online RPG, but you gain something just as valuable in a larger quest group.
My major concern with the transition, and I believe this to be the major concern of most KotOR fans, is how an online MMO will manage the conversation system that was so integral to the original game. The Old Republic does have situations that will involve player choice, and the decision that is made is promised to have strong consequences, but that's only a small part of what made KotOR so fascinating. Knights of the Old Republic is one of the few games that give your party members a sense of realism in how they act and react to you. The characters in KotOR are not simply vessels for learning about the world around them. Although they serve that purpose as well, they are fully realized characters that you can converse with. They, like us, have their own personal back-stories, which they may or may not wish to talk about right away, and their own set of intentions and goals in life. I found myself arguing back and forth with one of my early party members in a way that felt genuine and not forced. It's these kind of AI conversations that might be too difficult to replicate in an MMO. Some may say that interaction with actual human players is what replaces that, and I believe this to be a valid point. Despite this, I believe human players can't draw you into the world the way a well-realized AI character can. Well, unless you play on a Role-Playing server.