STAFF REVIEW of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox)


Saturday, July 19, 2003.
by Tony Ingrassia

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Box art From a Galaxy far, far, away?The XBOX hits the mother load of Star Wars games, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. KOTOR is a super in depth RPG that will make RPG fans and Star Wars fans alike go into complete game overload. Not without it?s minor problems, but the character development, vast detailed environments, and the ever-alluring battle between the Light Side and the Dark Side are sure to overcome the blemishes. Set 4000 years before the rise of the Galactic Empire your faced with an undoubting enemy in Darth Malak who has unleashed an invincible Sith armada upon the galaxy. Choose from unique characters, creatures, vehicles and planets, across 7 enormous worlds and watch as your destiny unfolds. Will you be lured by the Dark Side? Only time and your actions will tell. Highly recommended to any RPG or Star Wars fan, general gamers may find the deep RPG style of KOTOR a little hard to get sucked into. This gamer was drawn in from the get go and had a hard time putting it down. Fire up your Blaster and inform your favorite Wookie your going in to kick some Sith?. well, you get the idea.


RPG?.Let me say it again, RPG. KOTOR offers up the most in-depth character development I have ever seen. You can spend hours just tweaking your character even before you actually start playing. Just about everything in KOTOR is ?Tweekable?. Weapons, Armor, and vehicles can be upgraded to your liking. The controls are set up in a dual joystick fashion, which makes movement very fluid; the one drawback is the inability to look up or down?minor flaw #1. The character interface is well organized and easy to manage on the fly, everything is right in front of you. Once you set forth on your adventure all the usual RPG rules apply. Explore, open containers, and collect credits and items and so on. When interacting with other characters your choice of responses is just as critical as any other aspect of the game and fashioned as Good, Neutral or Evil responses. Example: ?Yes, let?s move on and save the Princess? to ?I have better things to do, so back off or I?ll slit your thought?. The battle system is pretty cool, labeled as a ?Turn Base? system by some, I would have to disagree. Once your character encounters an enemy you have the option to engage in combat or ?Continue?, meaning you can use some of the other cool goodies such as your ?Stealth? clocking device to sneak past guards and such. If you choose to engage in battle, your character will attack with the weapon they have equipped until the enemy is defeated or he is. Now the enemy is also engaged in combat simultaneously with your character, so it?s kind of a ?Real Time? cut scene if you will. Heres the fun part, while engaged in battle you can either pause the battle or add ?Actions? on the fly, if you have decided that the enemies are just to overpowering for your Blaster, dial up a grenade from your inventory and eliminate the your enemies in one swoop. Your actions are maintained in the ?Action Menu? and have 5 slots to fill with various interactions from weapons, armor, and powers. Through all of this you can also build a ?Party? to help you on your quest. A party turns KOTOR into kind of a ?Squad? based scenario with the ability to switch ?Leaders? on the fly to best undertake the situation at hand. ?Party? members become available as you progress through the game. In usual RPG fashion, you gain XP (Experience Points) not only by defeating enemies, but ?Learning? new powers and or making the proper choices. All this translates into an entirely new pool of things you can do. Learn to hack a computer to access restricted areas, repair damaged droids you encounter during battle and use them to overtake enemies or defend an area. Take your weapons to a ?Work Bench? and upgrade them to your liking, and yes?with enough experience and knowledge you can even build your own lightsabre. KOTOR is an amazing game, well thought out and balanced; all the writing in the world would still sell the game experience short in my opinion. RPG fans don?t think twice. Star Wars fans will enjoy the ?Universe? and some pleasant surprises. General gamers don?t be scared off by the RPG factor; this game definitely deserves your attention.


Visually KOTOR is not over the top by any means, but with HDTV 480p features you are treated to colorful well-detailed environments, smooth frame rates and fluid character movement. The weapon effects and explosions are nicely done, and the ?Special? effects such as the aforementioned ?Clocking? is awesome. Character are pretty detailed, but again, not over the top but very customizable. All in all a well designed game with impressive cut scenes and environmental effects. Rumors of clipping have been floating around, I personally haven?t noticed any during my 10 hrs plus of game play.


In the sound department the usual Star Wars themes are present, but BioWare has added over 90 minutes of a new score just for this game, a welcomed addition to the almost ?Stereotypical? Star Wars soundtrack you find in many of the SW games. The dialogue is interesting and unique, and the aliens do speak in their native tongue so you will need to read. Battle effects and explosions take full advantage of the in game Dolby Digital, and truly suck you into the game. Solid effort.


Suggestions:
This game need to go completly on-line with XBOX Live.


Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 10.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10

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