on 6 March 2004
Where ever you are, whenever, if you hear someone utter the letters 'RPG', 90% of people will immediately think 'Final Fantasy'. Hmmm....yes, well the Final Fantasy series may be good and all, but there are what, 12? 13 of them now? I don't know about you, but I sense a bit of repitition there. So, if your like me, or you actually want a challenging, absorbing RPG that's one of a kind, turn your heads this way my friends and open your eyes to Star Wars:KOTOR...
The plot is this: It's 4,000 years before Episode 1, and the Galaxy is in a state of war. A race called the Mandalorians have recently lost the battle against the republic and have been scattered across the galaxy. Although they defeated the Mandalorians, the Republic's numbers have dwindled. It seemed that it couldn't get any worse for the Republic, but then came along Darth Malak, who usurped the mantle of Dark Lord after he previously assasinated the previous Dark Lord - Darth Revan.
Malak had come along at the head of an ENORMOUS fleet, of an epic scale, and was conquering planet after planet with his seemingly unstoppable armada of ships, troops and sith. The Republic were shocked and amazed at how he had raised such an army so quickly (as they had only tried to kill him 5 years before) and are trying every method possible to defend themselves against him. But none have succeeded and the only reason they've been able to last so long is because of their many hidden refuges on planets scattered throughout the galaxy, and because of a special Jedi called Bastilla.
Bastilla is special because she can wield a special power called 'Battle Meditation'. This can make the opposing side feel cowardly and scared, enough to turn the tide in a battle. But, because of this, she has become one of Malak's prome targets...
This is where you come in. You've been recruited by the Republic because of you're abilities, and it's you're job to protect Bastilla.
From the minute you load up the game, you know you're in for a treat. Before you start the game, you can completely customize your character: how he/she looks, what his/her attributes and abilities are, if they're a scout, officer or mercenary etc. You then delve into the game, and, from that minute onwards, you're hooked.
The first thing you notice is the graphics. They are among the BEST ever to grace a console, with stunning lighting, amazing attention to detail and top character models. The next is the sound. As any Star Wars game contains, the music is perfect. NEVER has an atmosphere been set so well with music. NEVER. But the thing that easily stands out the most, is the one thing that makes this game unique: the ability to decide your own fate. You have the ability to do what ever you want! Whether it be kill an innocent suvillian, save a planet from a horrible disease, assasinate someone etc.
Ontop of all this, you have a light and dark meter. This shows how far you've swayed to the dark or light side. Depending on how light/dark you are depends on how you stand (light will stand proudly; dark will stand menacingly), how you look (light have a well complexioned face; dark have scars and spikes on their face), how you act (e.g what you say to people: Light - How about we resolve this peacefully; Dark - Shut up! Time to die, bug-face!) and many other things. You can also pick your occupation e.g. Bounty Hunter, Jedi, Sith, Swoop-Racer (like podracing), Duelist, Murder Detective (!?!?! I know!) etc. The possibilities are almost endless.
The combat in this game is also spot on. Instead of pressing buttons to execute attacks, you give the character a command and they will do it. It may sound tacky, but it works suprisingly well. To do this, when you locate an enemy the game pauses and you then have the ability to scroll through all of your attacks and either press 'A' and execute the attack immediately, or press 'X' to line up different attacks in a row and execute a combo. Great stuff.
There is only one problem with this game, though. It seems short once you finish it. Even though, in actual fact, the game lasts about 40 hours minimum (100 hours if you wnat to do EVERYTHING), you still find yourself thinking 'Why didn't they make it longer?'
To wrap this up though, you simply won't find a better RPG out there. Bioware and Lucasarts have done what everyone else has tried to do first-time round and they've done it beautifully. Truly stupendous stuff.