A Closer Look at KOTOR

I played a bit more of Knights of the Old Republic and remembered the good and bad parts of it. The good (great) parts are the story and much of the combat. The combat is a combined real-time and turn-based mix that works pretty well. As you can see in the video below, I can pause the battle to look around, issue commands to each of my characters, then continue. Each character has a set of attack options, including power attacks, force powers (for the Jedi in the party) and grenades. In addition, healing and shield activation are also selectable. Each action takes a turn, so some things happen maddeningly slowly. In addition, once an action is started, you can’t stop it, so healing, for example, will have to wait until the next turn.

You can see in the video that I did a naughty thing by leveling up during combat, which replenished my hitpoints. Most games don’t allow that sort of thing just to prevent an unfair advantage, like I took here.

The bad thing about KOTOR is that the view is fairly fixed. You can rotate around your characters, but can’t zoom in or out, nor can you change elevation to get a better view. This feels a bit constraining. The graphics are okay, particularly given the age of the game. It runs in 1600×1200 just fine, but doesn’t support widescreen modes (without unofficial patches).

In all, Bioware did an amazing job of transforming D&D rules into the Star Wars universe with light sabers and vibroswords (really) replacing bastard swords, force powers replacing magic, and blasters taking the place of bows and arrows. The game works well, as does its sequel. Perhaps the new Star Wars MMO will turn out to bring some of the greatness of these games back.

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