Video Game Thoughts: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was a 2003 role-playing game by Bioware that I played on the PC. A Star Wars game made by Bioware was a golden combination. Bioware made my favorite role-playing game, Baldur’s Gate; Star Wars was my favorite sci-fi universe. A lot of times licensed games don’t live up to the hype, but Knights of the Old Republic was better than the hype. Bioware followed the same process they used to make Baldur’s Gate. First, they adopted the Star Wars universe as the setting for the game, writing their own unique story within it. Second, they took the Star Wars Roleplaying Game rules, which are based on 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, and put them into the game for the game mechanics. Bioware’s experience in doing this made it easy for them to create a good product.

Knights of the Old Republic’s story was considered by most to be better than the story in any of the prequel trilogy films and as good as the stories in the original trilogy films. It took about forty hours to do everything, and every moment was exhilarating. This was a game I did not want to put down. It was one of the only Star Wars games that start the player’s character as a normal guy who only later becomes a jedi. It was great the first time getting a lightsaber and force powers. The character became so much more powerful almost instantly and it continued as they leveled-up and learned more force powers. By the end of the game, the main character was pretty much a god. They could destroy entire rooms full of dark jedi with ease.

The rules from the official Wizards of the Coast Star Wars game kept me playing Knights of the Old Republic with new characters. I was always trying out different class combinations. They did a great job with keeping normal skills relevant throughout the game. Most skills were still useful after I got force powers. There were even a few quests that required the player to have certain skills at high numbers. All the companion characters had great, memorable personalities. This was helped even more by all the dialogue in the game being fully voiced. Knights of the Old Republic was the first role-playing video game in history to have every line in an audible format like this.

Of course, the game wasn’t perfect. I would have liked a more top-down view for combat. The combat system itself could have been fleshed out a little more too. Around this time I played some other games and realized that rule systems from pen and paper role-playing games were not the most ideal for video games. A rule system specifically catered to the needs and requirements of a game is always going to be better, but Bioware saved a lot of time going this route. That gave them more time to make the story great. I would have liked a little more exploration as well. The first planet, Taris, was great, but all the rest of the planets were quite a bit smaller. There was one main quest per planet plus maybe five meaningful sidequests.

Even with these flaws, I will always consider Knight of the Old Republic to be one of my favorite games of all time. It was just so breathtaking the first time I played. It really felt like I was in the Star Wars universe. I didn’t want the game to end. I just wanted to keep seeing new planets and meeting new characters. The game left a huge legacy. While the Old Republic time period was already invented in comic books in the early ’90s (Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi), Bioware really fleshed out their portion of it. Later games and books relied on these details for their own stories.

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