To this day, no game has ever compared to the feeling, the experience, and that epic reveal in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
My cousin introduced me to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic in 2003. He just said, “Here, check it out! It’s a pretty good game. You can borrow it if you want to.”
I was a bit skeptical and the box art didn’t leave me too thrilled. I’d never really been into Star Wars, that much. I mean, I grew up loving the original trilogy, and being an 80s kid, I’d spend the day with my cousins and my brother watching all 3 in a row. Star Wars was a huge part of my childhood, but it never became a part of my life. It was just a movie that I enjoyed watching. By the time the prequels emerged, I was out of high school, and just vaguely still into the series. Always loved the lightsaber, though.
Fast forward to 2003. I put the game into my Xbox, and tried it out. I was new to this type of game; at the time, I’d never played anything like it. I was used to playing Final Fantasy, Sonic, Mario, Zelda, Devil May Cry, and so on. Suffice to say, most of my gaming history was with over seas developers, mainly Japan. I’d never really touched a game made by a western developer.
I went into it not expecting much. The opening sequence, where your ship is overrun by a Sith Boarding Party, was hard to get used to. The gameplay was just strange, never played anything like it. The game paused, you chose a sequence of attacks, and then when you initiated actual combat, your character would attack every 3 seconds, if I remember right.
So, one, two, ATTACK! One, two, ATTACK! At first, this really didn’t sit too well, especially since I grew up playing games where I had total control. I put it down, after just the first few minutes of gameplay. There wasn’t another game to occupy my time, so I decided to give KotOR another chance.
After awhile, the awkward battle mechanic became second nature, and I slowly began to strategize on which moves were better to use than others. When the game paused, I’d key in my four attacks, and eventually, I couldn’t tell that there was even a delay. I felt like my character was beginning to move faster! Truthfully, it was the same 3 second delay, but it became less obvious with the more powers you were given.
It was an RPG unlike any other I’d ever played. You leveled up, but had control of what you wanted to increase. I was used to having my levels allocated to the next level of magic, or the next level of strength automatically. Levels, before, simply meant getting stronger. KotOR was the first game that gave me the freedom to choose a play style. I’d never been given an option like this before. As always, I chose the melee class, upgrading my weapons, flurry, critical strike, and chose to hack computers. Then, when you got to the Jedi Temple, and you were able to become a Jedi, I was hooked! I couldn’t put the game down. I poured hours just building my character, figuring out what each new ability did, learning what my new Force Power was capable of, and watched my character grow from some empty nobody to a card-carrying bad ass!
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was the first game that introduced me to the prospect of making choices in gaming. The whole idea was phenomenal! The fact that my choices made a difference to the game, how I was perceived, and ultimately had an effect on the way I played the game made the experience more engrossing than anything I’d ever played.
The story was also superbly written. The plot kept me wondering, and interested, the entire time and the companions’ dialogue was always a treat to listen to, especially HK-47! I grew to love and adore my companions. Talking to them, unlocking their secret arcs, and watching them grow and learn as we moved through the galaxy made the trip interesting and worthwhile. They each had a different personality, an inner struggle, had something to say about the current situation, and gave me a reason to care about them.
Carth, Mission, and HK-47 were my main choices, but I eventually replaced them with an all Jedi crew, and started running with Bastilla, Juhani, and Jolee Bindo. Never really liked Zelbaar. Actually, I’m not a fan of wookies…except for Chewie, that dude is awesome! (SPOILER) Losing Bastilla really pissed me off cause I had invested so much time in her character. I don’t remember if I ever got her back… (SPOILER END) And when you finally learned the truth, and all the small dialogue options, and all the foreshadowing, all accumulated to the ultimate reveal…it blew my mind! I started freaking out. That was the greatest reveal in gaming history! I started screaming, running down the hall, calling my brother to come check this out. I stood, shifting side to side, too antsy to sit still as I reloaded and watched the scene again with my brother.
And at that moment, when I watched my character take off his hood…that sealed it for me. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic became my favorite game of all time, ever! It’s still the game that I judge all other games by. It turned me from a quasi-Star Wars fan into a Jedi-loving uber geek!
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the reason I fell in love with games like Fallout and Dragon Age. It’s because of it I love open world games that allow you to explore and grow your character in any way you choose. To this day, no game has ever compared to the feeling, the experience, and that epic reveal in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I’m still searching for a game to trump this experience. A lot have come close, but nothing new has, as of yet, dethroned KotOR, in my mind.
I played through Star War: Knight of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, and was less impressed. It was rushed. The ending left so much unanswered…and then I was left with nothing KotOR related for years. However, a Sith Lord that could annihilate a planet, from a galaxy away, by feeling the force through the people? That is what a Sith is supposed to be. Palpatine’s got nothing on Darth Nihilus.
I’m still waiting for KotOR 3. Seriously, Bioware. This isn’t funny, anymore.
Now that Star Wars: Old Republic is free to play, I’m anxious to give it a try. I heard that it continues the story, and finally reveals Revan’s fate. I’ve done my best not to read anything about it because I don’t want to ruin the reveal. It may blow my mind, it may disappoint, but I’m just eager to get my hands on something KotOR related!