King of the Xbox
Xbox has been waiting for a new killer app for nearly two years now, and it finally has one with Knights of the Old Republic. Knights isnít just the best RPG or even the best game on the Xbox. It is the greatest role-playing game to ever grace this planet. Final Fantasy? Your formulas are old and stale. Baldurís Gate II? Close, but no cigar. Planescape: Torment? A legitimate contender, but youíve got no popular support.Click here for our KoTOR screenshot gallery!
Knights of the Old Republic is a new kind of RPG, a hybrid between the console and PC experience. For example, the locations you visit end up being designed in the style of a console. Each area has several different zones with strict boundaries of what you can and cannot do. Like console RPGs (and unlike past BioWare titles), you canít choose to attack innocent bystanders or rob a shopkeeper. In most games, this design decision often results in frustrating experiences for the player, but not so with Knights.
Even though the restrictions on attacking are artificial, theyíre not arbitrary. Unlike some other final games with a lot of fantasy, Knights doesnít make a point of flaunting villains in front of the player while theyíre invulnerable. Thatís not to say there arenít peaceful encounters with enemies, but these serve a purpose other than to have the villain spend a fifteen minute cutscene rubbing in how powerful and evil he is.
On the PC side
There are distinct flavors of the PC experience present in Knights of the Old Republic as well. Typical console RPGs are known for every-second-step random encounters and an exponential progression system where the experience and money gained from creatures increases at an incredible rate. This helps keep player progression per area in line, and also prevents them from moving on into locations theyíre not ready for. Weapons come in tiers, each new weapon being vastly superior to the previous one, and being only useful for the current area.
Instead, Knights uses a system more familiar to PC RPG fans. Level progression is relatively linear and items arenít immediately outclassed by whatever you find on the next new planet. Dialogue is more than an endless rant, being quite involved with elaborate branching. As with other BioWare games, there are tempting dialogue choices all around, and many of these exclude alternate options. If you say one thing, you often canít go back and change your mind, which makes for great future replay value and adds a certain legitimacy to the choices the player makes.