Reviews: Knights Ofthe Old Republic
Despite the dated aspects, still the best Star Wars film never made
Like most BioWare games, you don't play this for innovative interfaces or groundbreaking gameplay features. Combat and controls are very basic. Graphics only aged so-so. The stock voice clips for "alien" language and the animations are clunky. Even the Gay Option, a BioWare staple, is very low-key by modern standards. What you play this for? Take everything that can make you Squee! about Star Wars, especially the Star Wars Legends, triple-distill it, let it age to a nice, mellow finish, then start pouring shots. It's frankly the best damn Star Wars film that never made it to a big screen. It's got the massive sense of history, the MythologyGags, the cool ship, the planets to explore. And add BioWare's talent for characters with top-notch voice acting. You may love or hate your party members, but they sure won't be forgettable. Sure, they're as archetype as any Star Wars crew, but that's the entire point. Even then, they find ways to play with the archetypes. The three Jedi party members have different ideas about the Order, the Code, and the Force, each seeing a different side of it. The most "conventional" Jedi is very brittle and questioning her path. (She is DEFINITELY going to remind some folks of what Rey would have been if she were found by the prequel-era Order) The second has a horrible past and psychological issues the Order is not helping whatsoever, but she finds what peace she can in the Jedi Code. The third is...an odd man and a glorious Troll, who has his own reasons for coming along, trying to redeem himself for a terrible mistake he made during Exar Kun's War. Your "hotshot pilot" is a troubled, grieving man who wants a reason to be your Lawful Good voice of conscience and right whatever wrongs he can. Your "scoundrel" is a naive teenager who wants to see the best in everyone. The big Wookiee is painfully shy, and the badass Mando mercenary is Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life and too full of stubborn pride to admit it. It's really going to take several play-throughs, mixing and matching party members, in order to get the best and full story out of everyone. And BioWare uses the creative freedom they got with the setting extremely well; doing more to explain the Sith in six minutes than Lucas bothered with in six films, laying more groundwork for the Mandalorian culture, giving us an origin story for the Sand People, glimpses into the ancient history of the GFFA with the Rakata...oh, and the biggest Wham Line since the reveal of Luke's paternity. Bottom line: Accept the dated aspects as a limitation of 2003, but play this for the storyline, the characters, and BioWare's knack for cranking the best parts of a setting up to eleven and flying as much as possible past the radar system for a satisfying cinematic experience.
Not a bad game for the time
The game is enjoyable for Star Wars fans, as it stays true to the spirit of the Star Wars franchise. The story, the turn based-realtime combat and Karma Meter are all very simple, but the game is overall clean and polished. It has a grand, Space Opera-like feel. It works well as a standalone game from 2002. BUT...even as a fan, I have to admit, you aren't likely to play it more than once because the game is rigidly linear. Whether it suffers from railroading or not is YMMV. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who prefers their RP Gs as Wide Open Sandbox, as the galaxy is actually very small, but fans of Bioware will likely enjoy it more (and possibly JRP Gers, because despite being a western rpg, IMHO it plays like it's eastern cousins). Basically: if you don't like linear gameplay and turn-based combat, you won't like it. If you didn't like Star Wars, this isn't going to change your mind. It can be a very enjoyable game, though, if you don't mind simpler games and don't care about graphics.
(This will likely end up a shorted version of my Game FA Qs review on the game, see the full thing here http://www.gamefaqs.com/computer/doswin/review/R128025.html ) Firstly Kot OR's story is... Very poor. "Find the 4 Plot Coupons to defeat The Empire." doesn't even pretend to be anything of interest. It wouldn't bad if that was just the front premise, but it is all there is too see. The combat system plays really poorly and is horribly unbalanced. The "real time with pause" does not allow the player to have use any real strategy, limiting them to "walk up enemy, bash with lightsaber, heal, repeat, use force heal if someone gets a stats condition.", because of the way the system works you can't manage something as simple as a retreat, you must manaually threw WASD direct each character out of battle, and if you manage to do so, it doesn't really work, as the enemy stands by attacking every few steps you make, because the enemy keeps tied to your back, as you can niether take a turn, and useing your superior speed outrun them (as per turnbased, as increases in move speed in RTWP only matter over long distances you can't cover in battle) or avoid the enemy being chained to you in it's entirty (real time). Ballance wise, Jedi are quadriatric, vibroblade users are linear, and gun users are a flatline. Jedi get amazeing force buffs and higher damage in the first place, guns have low range, it is impossible to get out of melee range with a foe (see above) and do poor damage while gaining nothing but worthless skills for the buffs. Party members are boring. You have the pilot with trust issues (the same trust issues Bioware can't stop using), a street urchin who wants to stop being treated like a kid, a nagging women who wants to be your moral compass, but is far from perfect herself. The two characters with the most deph are a snarky sociopath and Jolee Bindo who has to have been designed separately, as his combination of Grumpy Old Man and The Obi Wan is actually memorable. Player choice is limited to Lawful Stupid Chaotic Stupid, and beyond a last minute choice, has no impact beyond that quest.