A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the first Star Wars role-playing video game titled Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic showered players with character choice, a riveting story, and a shocking plot twist. Developed by BioWare, KOTOR follows the journey of a combatant who abruptly awakens on the Endar Spire (a cruiser serving with the Galactic Republic Navy), which has been infiltrated by the Sith. Confused and unaware of their surroundings, the protagonist musters their way through the ship accompanied by the ever so lovely Trask. Unfortunately, he meets his demise far too early. Escaping the Endar Spire with the help of Carth Onasi, however, lands them on the surface of Taris. Thus begins an adventure worth experiencing over and over and over again.
Released originally in 2003 for the Xbox 360 (and later that year, Microsoft Windows), KOTOR immediately made me smile so hard that my cheeks hurt. Character customization, though brief, offers players the chance to enhance their voyage with a combination of preferred skills, character class, and the choice of a male or female lead. As a female myself, strutting around the galaxy as an unstoppable woman warrior embellished my experience that much more. Not to mention, character choice plays a significant role in a high percentage of interactions with party members or NPCs.
Depending on the outcome of conversation, selections occasionally determined whether or not the protagonist will gain light side or dark side points. Personally, I typically wore my heart on my sleeve and found it difficult to be hateful. Nonetheless, washing your hands clean of the light and embracing the darkness paints a comical path toward becoming a Jedi warrior. Nothing is ever really black or white on the morality scale anyway.
After the brief gameplay introduction on the Endar Spire, the protagonist is accompanied by the one and only Carth to free a captured Jedi, Bastila Shan. A total of two party members lurk protectively behind the star player, chiming in during battles and conversations. Dialogue options with companions typically open up after the protagonist levels up. Significant events also trigger conversation options. The choice to flirt even reveals a love prospect for both male and female characters. Male characters can romance the beautiful Jedi Bastila, a force of nature. Females, on the other hand, swoon over Carth and his untrustworthy disposition. I must admit, he still has my heart to this day. He probably always will.
A total of nine companions escort the hero on their path to becoming a Jedi warrior. The variety of characters embellish the gameplay and reveals distinctive personalities illustrated often throughout the story. Caring for companions prompts the chance to fulfill personal assignments for them. More specifically, significant moments and interactions trigger companion side-quests. Mission, for example, is a Twi’lek recruited early on. She mentions briefly that her brother, Griff, abandoned her as a young child. She becomes bothered by the topic and refuses to discuss it further until she’s later recognized by his brother’s former girlfriend. Therefore, Mission yearns to seek him out. Though side-quests aren’t mandatory, they’re definitely worth the extra time. You never know what you’re going to discover, after all.
Annihilating enemies in a round-based fashion has its perks and its disadvantages. The character attacks and reacts concurrently with their enemy, but the combat isn’t very exciting at first. Initially, the game automatically pauses at the sight of an enemy. Depending on player preference, this feature can be turned off at any time so the battles run more fluidly. To get the ball rolling, the character can proceed with a regular attack or action feats. These nifty battle maneuvers typically pack more of a punch. Personally, I find it gets the job done a hell of a lot quicker. As more battles are won and characters begin to level up, new feats and skills unlock – not to mention all of the loot that foes drop.
The most exciting aspect of KOTOR’s combat comes into play when the protagonist fashions their first set of Jedi robes – characterized with a radical lightstaber, of course. Using the force to abolish enemies generates a much more thrilling battle experience. KOTOR players may wield one lightsaber, two lightsabers, or a double-sided lightsaber with several colors to select from. It’s basically a dream come true for any Star Wars fan. Many variations of the force can lift foes into a literal whirlwind or shove them halfway across the screen. See you later, buddy.
Throughout the protagonist’s escapade to eliminate evil, various worlds are explored, showcasing many diverse species. Though some missions are a bit on the tedious side, most are stimulating and give players the convenience of choice. My personal favorite planet is the native Wookiee inhabited world of Kashyyyk. How can you not adore the roaring furry humanoids? The story revolving around the Wookiee companion, Zaalbar, is unveiled here and the player has the opportunity to make some major decisions for Kashyyyk. Overall, each planet ensures unique aspects encompassed within them, producing an entertaining journey.
KOTOR is the kind of RPG that captivates while simultaneously chucking a curveball at players out of the blue. Different outcomes and character choice generates a varied playthrough every time. Not to mention, the option of a male or female protagonist expands the already countless possibilities the world of KOTOR has to offer. Saving the day as a Jedi warrior has never been so exciting. Personally, I would cry tears of happiness if a remastered version of this epic adventure came to life. Who knows what the future holds for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic? In the meantime, I’m content with countless heroic moments with Carth Onasi by my side.