Posted on March 13, 2013
My Top 100: #9 – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
What’s this? An RPG in the top ten?? I know it’s not turn-based, but it’s pretty darn close. It definitely isn’t the sort of game I would have checked out, had the Star Wars name not been at the front of it.
When the game was first announced, the idea of a Star Wars game set 4,000 years before the events of the movies intrigued me quite a bit. There were comic books set during that timeframe, and the technology I saw when I flipped through those pages was a bit more primitive and organic-looking than what was in the movies. The game should be quite interesting, even if it was an RPG.
I bought Knights of the Old Republic when I picked up my Xbox, along with Enter the Matrix. It was somewhat of an impulse buy, considering the fact that I had no idea if I was going to like it, or the console it was on. It was Star Wars, so why not?
This goes without saying, but I liked it. I liked it a lot.
Once you get your character attributes all lined up, you’re dropped into the midst of a fierce space battle. The capital ship you’re on is being bombarded, and it’s up to you to learn the ropes and get to an escape pod as quickly as possible. Of course, it’s just a tutorial level, but you still have that “I need to get the hell out of here” feeling in the pit of your stomach.
In that first level, the battle mechanics are explained quite well – even an RPG newb like myself had no problem getting accustomed to it. While it’s not turn-based, the game does pause when encountering an enemy. This gives you plenty of time to choose how you’d like your character to attack, and assign tasks to different party members.
I’ve never been a fan of waiting for my turn to attack, preferring instead to be fully in control of my actions – you know, like in Zelda, you swing your sword, land hits, and that’s the end of it. I guess that’s why I’ve never been a fan of Final Fantasy or other popular role playing games, where you’re often at the mercy of a roll of a virtual dice.
KotOR pretty much works like a game of Dungeons and Dragons (which I’ve never played, by the way), and it was a bit strange to me at first in that I wasn’t fully in control of how often my character attacked. Still, not once did I ever feel like I wasn’t in control of a situation.
“OK, so I have this semi-powerful guy, this not-so powerful droid, and a Jedi to go up against… here’s what I’m gonna do… Aaaaand go!”
It could be a bit frustrating when your character shot a blaster bolt into the floor in front of him instead of a target across the room, but that stops happening after you level up a bit.
The decisions you make throughout the game give you Light Side or Dark Side points, and you can gain certain abilities if you stay on one path more than another. Whether you want to feel like a hero by helping everyone you meet, or you feel like being a menace to society and causing a ruckuss at every opportunity, you can do it! Definitely a great time, either way.
The path your character takes is quite amazing, working his (or her) way up from the depths of the city world of Taris, all the way to becoming one of the most respected (or feared) warriors in the galaxy. I won’t spoil the ending, because it truly blew my mind when I saw the cutscene, but it’s the kind of story that once you know how it ends up, you’ll feel like playing it all over again… and again… and again.
This takes me back to the summer of ’03 and the weekend I bought KotOR, along with my shiny new console.
Much like that night I bought the Spider-Man 2 game, I had a softball game scheduled on the following Sunday, and didn’t feel much like going. It was race day, and I just got this brand new console I wanted to play. Still, I knew that if I didn’t show up, the team might be short a player or two, and I’d get an earful from the coach, the Softball Nazi.
So much for it being a fun “Beer League”.
I showed up relatively early at the north side baseball diamond at Henry Park, and the game eventually got under way. All I could think about while I was in the outfield was KotOR, and the card game my character had been shown how to play in order to win money, called Pazaak. It was basically Blackjack, but instead of the perfect score being 21, it was 20. Also, some cards you can choose to “bring into” the match can actually decrease your overall total, in the event you go a little too far with deals, and your total goes over 20.
Anyway, I was thinking about Pazaak (no balls were being hit to me, thankfully) when I noticed that the sky had gotten really dark and cloudy, all of a sudden. It had been sunny just a minute before, and it was like someone flipped a switch. There was lightning off in the distance, and I could see the haze of pouring rain on the south side of the Saint John River. It was just a matter of time before it reached us!
Strangely, all we ever felt was just a few sprinkles. There were a few massive cracks of thunder and lightning nearby, and one of them scared the bejeezus out of everyone on the field. Other than that, we were able to finish the game without any problems.
We probably lost, too. I can’t quite remember, but I doubt we won, because we rarely ever did!
After getting home, I went right back to playing Knights of the Old Republic, then watched the race later that afternoon.
The next morning, I heard on the news that a 14-year old girl from Maine was at a soccer tournament when a bolt of lightning struck the field her team was playing on. This happened just down the road while I was playing softball, and I didn’t really put two and two together when we all got spooked by the thunder and lightning, then heard sirens not far in the distance.
Coupled with last year’s close call with lightning at the NASCAR race I was at, I might be pushing my luck with Mother Nature!