My approach to this game was actually quite unusual, as I played the sequel The Sith Lords first, but this is a review for both. My local library had some video games for PC, so one day I got Star Wars – Knights of the Old Republic II, because I was (and am) quite a Star Wars fan (but I don’t know about everything that goes on in the franchise – it’s so huge!!). I remember I got a cold then, so I had nothing better to do and I basically played the game all day long. It was so immersive and especially addictive that I just couldn’t stop! Anyway, when I was better again I had finished the game and wanted to play it again… I replayed it a few times since and it took me a few years to actually get the first instalment. I wasn’t disappointed.
These games are amazing in so many ways. The greatest feature probably is that you have a range of choices and also dialogue to choose from and every little decision brings you closer either to the light side or the dark side. In part II your decisions also influence those around you, so the more they like you, the easier they follow you. You have to bear the consequences, too. Some decisions alter the story, which I find brilliant. As the games are so focussed on the player, they become really immersive and it feels like you star your own Star Wars film. I could play these games over and over again, just like watching the films for the nth time.
The controls are very intuitive and even though I prefer playing on a console, I had no trouble with this game on my PC. Well, apart from the frequent crashes, which I blame my computer for, though… The move set is pretty awesome and despite my strong preference for the light side I always teach my characters the Sith lightning. It’s so badass and very effective. I love it that you can customise your abilities and your fighting style (ranged weapon, melee, Force or balanced). So it’s a standard RPG in this sense. The fights are great for newbies, as you don’t have to react quickly. In a way it’s turn-based fighting, but it doesn’t feel quite as slow or even boring as other games that use that system. It’s action without the stress – you can always hit the pause button and think.
I’m never too fussed about the graphics, as long as they stay true to their own style and don’t look “ugly” or unaesthetic. I like the graphics of Star Wars KotOR, even though the limited number of models and some glitches (like falling into people) make it quite funny at times. Still, for me that never was a minus. As long as the game play gets me… Also the music is truly epic. It helps to make you feel like you are part of a Star Wars film. You recognise themes from the iconic score, but it’s still original in itself, which makes it refreshing and enjoyable. I love it that heroic music starts playing when my character gets into a fight. Like a proper “soundtrack of your life”.
The story really draws you in, in both games. Of course it’s Jedi against Sith in both cases and you can pick your side. Like in a good film you can expect twists and turns, so it doesn’t just make for an enjoyable gameplay, but also an exciting story. A great feature is that you can do most of the quests in any order you wish. Of course some things are mandatory at a certain time in the game, but usually you are free to explore. With your awesome spaceship, the Ebon Hawk, you can cruise through the Galaxy. It’s the same ship in both titles. The game starts with you not being able to use the Force, but you slowly learn to control it and once you get your lightsaber, things get real 😉 You can customise the colour (I love orange and viridian green) of your lightsabers and also your team’s armour, clothes and other equipment.
You meet quite a few characters on the way who will join your group and live with you on the Ebon Hawk. It’s getting quite crowded there towards the end. I find the games very special in that you can build a proper relationship with your team members (or at least it feels very real). When they say something and you disagree, they will like you less and they will be happy when you offer them praise. There are also “love interests” for both the male protagonist and the female protagonist, which is so in the vein of the Star Wars films. It’s quite cute, really. The characterisation is so strong that you really feel for your team members and you will be upset when something happens to them. It’s weird, but because of the player-centred nature of the game you start caring about everything that happens in the game and especially the characters.
The sheer range of choices and customisability make the games so special and very unique to you. As player you can immerse yourself in the world of Star Wars and I think any RPG fan would enjoy this game. As video games go they are fairly old already (Part I 2003, Part II 2005), but that doesn’t stop them from being awesome. Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic I and II will be perfect for any Star Wars fan, but also for casual RPG, fantasy and science-fiction gamers. You will soon find yourself right inside the story and it will keep you hooked until you have finally defeated the boss and earned your (dependent on your choices!) ending. The characters will stay with you, like from a good film, and you will wish to revisit the world again and again, just like you would want to re-watch a good TV series right after you’ve finished the final episode. A game that truly leaves an impression.