Star Wars, the complete saga, is about to be released on Blu-ray so what do fan boys do when they can’t wait for it to arrive in the mail? They play the most amazing RPG with lightsabers: Knights of the Old Republic.
Jedi or Sith?
Set a couple of thousand years before A New Hope, you immerse yourself in a universe which isn’t too different from what we’ve seen on the big screen. Like any decent RPG, your deeds define who you are. Collect bounties without mercy and you’ll drift to the dark side; help reunite a stranger with their protocol droid and you’ll sashay down the path of light. You allegiance to good or bad (which is which?) becomes more important later on when you begin to learn the ways of the Force. A Jedi can’t zap banthas with lightning but they can heal themselves. Blah, blah, blah.
Who’s scruffy lookin?
The main plot is fantastic. The sub plots and the little stories in between are also well written—a testament to BioWare and Lucas Arts’ excellence. Enough of the brown nosing (do I get a free copy of The Old Republic now?) … So, the Republic is threatened by this Sith armada which is led by two fallen Jedi, Malak and Revan. They wreak devastation across space while you make the Galactic Rim a better or worse place.
You travel with a small party of adventurers who reveal their personal stories as the game progresses. Most games that require you to pillage and plunder in a group suck because you only care about your protagonist. In Kotor, the personalities you meet are all very interesting and different (think Mass Effect and Neverwinter Nights).The beauty of talking to your companions is that they all have their biases and opinions. If you butcher an innocent in front of Bastila, a Jedi Sentinel, for example then she might say how disgusted she is with you whereas someone like Canderous, a veteran Mandalorian warrior, would approve and probably comment on how weak the person was. There are a lot of good conversations in KOTOR and that depth makes for a richer role-playing experience.
An elegant weapon for a more civilised age
The game is fairly linear until you and your buddies hijack the Ebon Hawk from a criminal syndicate. Now that you have a ship you need to decide where to go next. First stop is Dantooine where you meet the Jedi Order, run some errands for them, convince them that you’re not evil (even if you are) and then—wait for it—construct your own lightsaber. Now that’s a big deal. Sure, you have a lightsaber in Jedi Knight and those other first-person shooters but in KOTOR you can upgrade it, change the colour of the blade and fuck shit up. It even deflects blaster bolts! On my most recent play-through I jumped to Tatooine and slaughtered those filthy Tusken Raiders, Anakin style. Did I mention my dude’s name is Arse Hole?
Bigger than the Great Pit of Carkoon
When you’ve had enough of chatting and murderising you can try your luck in a hand of Pazaak (Like Blackjack only the game busts at 20) or win a swoop race (lamer than a pod racer). There are also non-lethal ways of earning experience such as hacking (they call it slicing) and repairing droids with spare parts.
KOTOR II is a fantastic sequel. Hopefully that trend stays true for the upcoming MMORPG.