A republic soldier, training to become a Jedi Knight, is given the task of halting the conquest of Darth Malak by discovering the location of a weapon known as the Star Forge.A republic soldier, training to become a Jedi Knight, is given the task of halting the conquest of Darth Malak by discovering the location of a weapon known as the Star Forge.A republic soldier, training to become a Jedi Knight, is given the task of halting the conquest of Darth Malak by discovering the location of a weapon known as the Star Forge.
The events in KOTOR take place about 4,000 years before the events in the films. It is a time of galactic war, between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire. For me, at least, the setting is what allows the game to be so rich; instead of being bogged down by having to tie into the films, it can have its own unique story, while still retaining most of the familiar details of the Star Wars universe. The aspect of KOTOR that so many have found most appealing is the ability to play as light or dark. It give the player the ability to develop the already unique story in the way they see fit, bringing the player as close as they have ever come to being their own Star Wars saga. There are thousands of choices to make, and they can affect your alignment, the story, and the gameplay.
The gameplay of KOTOR is an interesting experience. While it is an RPG, the combat takes place in real time, with the all the calculations and dice throwing taking place behind the scenes (though that information is readable). The attacks are basic, so the character building often has more to do with statistics and equipping. However, you and a few other characters play as Jedi, giving you Force abilities which can have a range of powerful effects. However, using the Force drains your Force Meter, which recharges gradually. Also, force alignment affects the cost of using the powers; using the Force to choke the life out of your opponent will cost more if you are playing on the light side. There is a pretty quick and efficient targeting system, but going through the inventory and using items is not all that fun, especially in a battle. There are a few out-of battle statistics as well that allow you to open locked doors, disable mines, and hack computers, but those duties generally fall on NPCs. There are also three classes to choose from, both at the beginning and when you become a Jedi, and both affect gameplay.
The main quest of the game takes you to several different worlds, inhabited with many different characters. Coming along to help you in your journey is a variety of NPCs: Bastila, a young Jedi with the power of "Battle Meditation", Carth, a Republic soldier who isn't quick to trust, Mission, a teenaged Twi'lek, Zaalbar, her Wookiee friend, Canderous, a Mandalorian warrior turned mercenary, and T3-M4, an astromech droid. More characters will join your party later, but I don't want to spoil the story.
There are many sidequests within the main story, and their are several choices and endings in each of them, as well. Most of the NPCs have their own character-specific sidequests as well. You gradually learn more about each character's past through talking to them, and you can pursue either Carth or Bastila as a romantic interest depending on which gender you selected for your character. Once again, you determine your relationships with the characters.
This game is full of dialog, all of it scripted and spoken by actors and actresses (except for your character). In many instances you can be talking to aliens and they will use the same generic alien sounds over and over to convey different meanings, but at least there are unique words for every character, and an extensive dialog branch for each. And of course, there's the classic Star Wars music, which is always great to listen to. Throughout the game, you get to experience a big taste of what the Star Wars universe is like. You discuss the matters of the Force with other characters, and learn about the recent history of the galaxy. Each world has its own history and problems that you learn about, and you often get to directly experience the native cultures in interesting ways. While I said before that KOTOR creates its own story without tying in directly to the movies, some of the things you learn during the course of the game can actually help you understand them better.
You may have noticed I did not mention the game's graphics or level design. There are some nice-looking indoor and outdoor environments, and flashing lightsabers, but many characters look the same, and the in-game animation doesn't always look that great. The levels do not allow for extensive exploration, and they always lead you back to the story.
Which is why I guess I really love this game. It is totally driven by a story that you create, a story that takes you to places you've never been before, yet are so familiar that you may find yourself wanting to learn all that you can about them. It's a quest across space to save the galaxy, and for the very first time, it's starring you.
- Jul 5, 2004