I’m not normally a fan of RPG games, but I always made an exception for Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR); a game which successfully blends RPG, Adventure and 3D action to create a superb game that fits perfectly into the Star Wars universe. Thanks to developer Aspyr it’s now available to play on the iPad.
Set 4,000 years before the films, you play a Jedi travelling on a ship attacked by the Sith Lord, Darth Malak. You must fight your way off the ship and try to discover Malak’s plans, all the while resisting the lure of the Dark Side.
KOTOR has the superb storyline which feels like a proper Star Wars tale and drags you in right from the very first screen. As a game it’s accessible to newcomers to the Star Wars universe (can there be any left?) whilst paying plenty of fan service (the opening stages mimic the early scenes of A New Hope, whilst later sequences take place on Tatooine or Kashyyk).
The narrative is brilliantly structured and – most crucially – gives you real freedom to play the game your own way. There are multiple branching points where the decisions you make have major implications for the way the story unfolds. Choose the “good” options and you will remain a true Jedi; pick too many “bad” ones and you start on the path to the Dark Side. Your decisions even affect how the game ends: if you remain “good” your final objective is to defeat Darth Malak. If you have succumbed to the Dark Side, your aim is to usurp him. This may be a pretty commonplace game mechanic now, but when KOTOR was first released, it was still pretty unusual.
KOTOR is a massive game that really captures the epic scale of the films. The huge storyline offers hours of entertainment and, because your actions so profoundly change the game, there’s plenty of replay value too.
Aspyr have done a good job redesigning the original interface for a touch-screen environment. Indeed, it works so well that if you didn’t know otherwise you wouldn’t necessarily realise the original game required mouse/keyboard input. The interface is brilliantly intuitive and anyone who has ever played a graphic adventure or RPG of any kind will instantly feel at home.
It’s the presentation that perhaps lets the game down the most. Whilst graphics are good, they are starting to show their age. Some look a rough around the edges – particularly facial features and it would have been nice if Aspyr had taken the time to give the game a lick of next-gen paint. Still, the graphics are perfectly functional and capture the feel of the Star Wars universe. Sound has aged a little better with some great orchestral tunes accompanying every aspect of the game, excellent special effects and full speech throughout (although some of the voice acting is a little cheesy).
At £7.99 KOTOR is a lot more expensive than most iOS games and the price might seem a little steep for a game that’s over 10 years old. To be honest, though, it’s still a premium quality title that merits its premium price tag – especially if you’ve never played it before. You also need to be aware that it will only work on later iPad hardware (iPad 3 and upwards) and is a real space hogger, requiring over 2.5GB of storage space.
Minor quibbles aside, Aspyr have done a fantastic job at making this already great game available for a new generation of hardware. The instant familiarity of the Star Wars universe, combined with a game that is fun and accessible even if (like me) you don’t normally like RPGs is a winning combination.
Knights of the Old Republic proves that old games never die; they just migrate to new hardware.
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