Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Review
Xbox - August 2003
by Joshua Griffin
I Hate RPGs
Let me just tell you right up front I'm not a RPG-lover. In fact, I would have to say that they come right after the dance genre on my list of games I avoid like the plague. So when LucasArts sent me Knights of the Old Republic for my trusty Xbox, I knew I wasn't going to have a good time.
Man, was I wrong.
From the moment the trailer starts in the beginning of the game you know that there's been an amazing amount of detail put into this game. And while it isn't going to become my favorite Star Wars title made (Xbox Clone Wars still holds that) and won't become my most played game (Halo, anyone?) by any stretch, it is a striking example of a game gone right in a world of mediocrity. It has shattered my expectations of a RPG and finally made me believe there's one out there I could actually enjoy. I'm not running out to buy all of the Final Fantast games tonight and Chrono Trigger will still be left of my Top 100 Games of all Time list. But still, there is a good time to be had by all here - from the most hard core rollers to the newbies who are just in it because it says Star Wars on the package.
The absolute and total immersion of this title is the first point of interest. The game takes place thousands of years before the "known" Star Wars universe so the creators had a chance to make a great game and toss in a Star Wars feel without having to be overwhelmed by it. Instead of the normal "follow the plot of the movie" or run right along side of it we get a seriously imaginative storyline without these typical limiting boundaries. In fact, the game is absolutely massive and even gets to take us to places unfamilar and others in the established canon. Players will visit new worlds and spend time in other exotic locations like Chewbacca's homeworld of Kashyyk and Tatooine. The storyline is quite interesting and a breath of fresh air from the typical title.
The graphics are sharp and realistic, aided by the fact that the games pace is basically walking around cities and locations. The framerate is solid and while the edges of the poylgon models are still a bit sharp it is some of the best graphics you're going to find on the console. I still feel Splinter Cell has an edge here, but in no way does that title attempt this scale. You can see in the background of the cities for forever, watching spaceships fly about and huge transports land on a nearly docking station. Again, total immersion and great graphics that are totally consistent with the Star Wars universe. There's till typical gripes though: some characters look terrible and the closeups are just too close. Yoda looks like he's seen much better days and some of the character models look SO cheesy. But all in all, way above the other consoles and above par for this day in age.
I just recently got the Dolby Digital receiver working in the house and it was just in time. The sound is fantastic, with piles of ambient noise to fill the halls of the apartment or the duel arena with the nervous crowd. You just can't beat it here, one of the strongest points of the title is what LucasArts always does best - deliver great sound and effects. And we would be remiss to not talk about the voice acting - finally a game that brings it all together. Not only is there such a huge volume of dialogue recorded, but in most instances you really believe the characters. Again, immersive to the hilt. A big commendation to LEC and Bioware for delivering some great voice work, aside from the occassional points where two sound bytes recorded separately didnt' mesh well side by side.
Honestly, this game has it all. I was worried about it since we faced some delays a few months ago but the extra time was really worth it. Star Wars fans will love the story and the familiar universe feel - but finally a serious original story we can grab on to. RPG lovers will get into it because it stays true to its roots in character and delivery. And maybe, just maybe, a HALO addict like me will even enjoy it to the end.
Knights of the Old Republic
92 out of 100