LucasArts/Bioware‘s 2003 release, Knights of the Old Republic, is thought by some to be the best Star Wars game ever made.
It’s a hardcore RPG in the style of Neverwinter Nights (also by Bioware) and other realtime/turn-based hybrids of the early 2000s.
Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) takes place almost 4,000 years before the formation of the Galactic Empire and in it you play a Jedi on a quest to defeat a Dark lord of the Sith called Darth Malak. You generate a character at the beginning; you choose a name, and off you go into a world of Star Wars characterisation and combat…
KOTOR is about quests, exploration, shops, items, skills, levelling, inventories, managing a party, and of course the aforementioned combat, which is real-time but can be paused at any time so you can issue orders to your characters. The interface is beautifully designed and makes the game a joy to play. If anything lets the game down, though, it’s the odd bit of frustration with the controls and characters getting stuck on things.
The Star Wars musical themes definitely add to the atmosphere. I particularly liked the dimly-lit canteenas, where there’s always something interesting going on – usually games of Pazzak, the game’s in-built card minigame.
One cool aspect of KOTOR that’s worth mentioning is the light/dark side meter on each playable character. If you treat people humanely you are awarded light side points. And if you treat them badly you get dark side points. Your alignment to The Force changes how people react to you and also gives alternative options at crucial points in the game. It’s a nice touch that is implemented well.
Overall, Knights of the Old Republic is a classic Star Wars game and is very enjoyable to play – especially if you like tactical action games. It’s great fun to play this kind of ‘thinking man’s’ Star Wars game while immersed in John Williams’ music.
Definitely worth adding to the collection, as is the arguably even better sequel.