More than 7 years ago, Star Wars was afflicted with the same curse that even now still, not all modern videogames can alleviate. I am of course referring to the Movie to video game curse which is second to only as bad as the video game to movie curse. Greatly influenced by other prior Bioware titles like Bulder’s gate, and NeverWinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic focused on open-plot progression yet keeping a coherent storyline something rare back in those days, the game’s greatest feat, and is arguably the trademark of Bioware games. It almost seems trivial now for a game especially of Star Wars to utilize the idea of a light and darkside as a direct opportunity to use a morality meter yet back then no other Star Wars game processed such a feature. This simple but yet innovative feature made the game appealing to Star Wars fans because you had the opportunity for your character to act and become a Sith Lord. Moreover, Bioware also recognized such attributes could play into the look and progression of the character.
The game also featured tons of well voiced-acting which was rare for a role-playing of its time to have because of the sheer volume of dialogue and costs. In these dialogue sequences players can actively chooses what his protagonist says. The game features combat similar to NeverWinter Nights and each character one creates has class based feats that effect how one plays the game.
Taking place more than thousands years prior to the movies it was perhaps the reason Knights of the Old Republic was so unique to any other Star Wars game at that time. However, you will still see the same alien species you see in the movie and Jedi still use Lightsabers, and the Sith enemies still carry blasters. You start the game as a Republic Solider on board a ship as it is being attacked by a Sith ship. The protagonist makes off the ship via escape pod and lands on Taris a planet currently under Sith quarantine. While ultimately your objective is to escape you are have the opportunity to embark on a wide range of side quests. Along the way you ‘rescue’ the Jedi Bastila and she discovers that the protagonist is highly force sensitive and processes the potential to become a full-fledged Jedi. After escaping stealing the Ebon Hawke you depart to Datooine where the Jedi Council has created an Enclave after learning that the Jedi Temple at Tatooine was destroyed by the Sith. Upon meeting with the Jedi council your character begins his or her Jedi Training. It is during your training you have visions of an ancient relic known as the Star Forge which the Sith seeks to obtain in hopes of using its limitless power to control the entire galaxy. Consequently, your character is given the task of learning and discovering more about the Star Forge and its location. You then alongside your companions you made along your journey fly to different planet in search of pieces to a map depicting the location of the Star Forge.
Much of the game is made up of the Main storyline and countless subplots. Many of the subplots and quests you do will not influence the main plot directly but their outcome can alter if your character is on the Light or the Darkside.
Perhaps the second, but most obvious contrast to other Star Wars games is the Dungeons & Dragons (3rd Edition) Style combat similar to Never Winter Nights. It uses much of the same rules and character builds as you expect from a D&D game with a slight nod to Star Wars. Instead of a Fighter you are now a Solider, a scout instead of a ranger and a scoundrel instead of a rogue. In addition as you complete your Jedi training you will have the choice to decide between one of three Jedi Classes: Guardian, Sentinel or Consular. Force Powers are basically the counterpart to spells and allow one to do such things as, knock them down with the force, stun or directly choke opponents to death.
Knights of the Old Republic, has bountiful references and retains much of ‘Star War humour’ especially with the many droids you encounter.
You won’t travel the galaxy alone you will come into contact with numerous strange characters and some of whom will assist you on your journey. Your comrades will occasionally stop and talk you personal issues, or occasionally you can inquire about their history. Party members will assist you with their skills and also fight alongside you. Many of these sequences make your comrades feel more ‘realistic’ and less like digital manikins. Although with that said, there are few technical issues like poor path finding and awkward collision detection which causes your comrades to either lag behind or face the wrong way when the enemy is right in front of your group.
Star Wars Knights of the Republic may have its technical problems but overall what it is strongest at is allow players to interact more within the confines of the Star Wars universe. It was one of the game which made players will feel that their decisions do matter in a video game. Many of the core ideas are still present in current games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age. This game probably influenced Mass Effect and with its MMO successor in development we will see if any of the established storyline and ethos from this game makes it into the new Knights of the Old Republic.