I expect you’ve already experienced Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic (KOTOR). Released way back in 2003, BioWare’s RPG resurrected by Asypr is as relevant now as it was then. For those who rely on review scores and skim anything more than 200 words, let me save your scrolling energy and tell you this is essential.
If you’ve returned to the review after purchasing it and hating the game to its digital bones, perhaps you should have read the rest of this, seeing as I took the time to hire an ape to write this for me. I lie; I’m writing this.
Essential for Star Wars fans, those who experienced it in a galaxy far, far away, and perhaps even newcomers?
KOTOR was and still is, one of the best RPGs I’ve experienced. My first adventure was back on the Xbox, then downloaded on Steam last year and seldom played, but now it’s the Switch’s turn, and it rocks. Though it’s visually crispier than before, the visuals won’t blow you away unless easily pleased.
But it’s not about the visuals. KOTOR features one of the best RPG experiences, and if you were a fan of Mass Effect, this game was the proving grounds before it. Whether you’re a fan of Star Trek and laser swords or not (intentional), the storytelling here and the choices are fantastic.
In short, you create your character, a blank slate. Transporting a Jedi on a hush-hush mission, the ship is attacked, and the Jedi has escaped. Gaining help from a familiar face (if you’ve played the games), Garth Brooks, you slowly piece together that you had a role in all of this and now have the freedom to follow the path of good and be Jedi-like, or be a dick to the galaxy and be a Sith.
Choices matter, and perhaps one of the best aspects of the game. There will be the main objectives to complete, but a heap of optional side quests, making KOTOR a beast. It’s an open-world experience – as best as it was in the early 00s, where you’ll engage in multiple-choice dialogues and enter a turn-based combat system. You can even take control and run away if it’s going down the pan, simply by taking control of your leader and running. Battles allow you to switch party members and queue up attacks. While combat is alright, it’s not a standout, and to be fair, it’s a little too simplistic.
But that doesn’t make it an easy feat, and I soon recalled the importance of manual saves as should your party die, it’s an immediate game over and can be harsh if you’ve gone through a series of conversations with the locals. The autosaves are fair, but you can only skip dialogue and not the action sequences. A minor irritation, but liveable.
The same goes for the visuals. There are no extras for the KOTOR base game, and I inadvertently used the same avatars I used almost 20 years ago. Aspyr has done a decent job making the visuals sharper but be advised that this does resemble an N64 game through an emulator. Erm… what’s an emulator…? For me, it’s not important about the graphics, especially on the Switch, but the framerate drops a bit, and there are a lot of loading screens. Fortunately, said framerates are more cosmetic than a viable excuse for why you lost another battle, and the loading times aren’t long, just frequent in some areas.
As for the audio production, it’s great. There are plenty of voice-acted scenes, classic sound effects and official scores – none of this inspired-by malarky. Playing in KOTOR Switch portable mode is fantastic, but when docked through the big telly and soundbar, the sound of the TIE Fighters was sublime. Naturally, some sounds can be a bit crackly, but none of it ruined my experience.
Star Wars isn’t for me, as I’ve said many a time. Sure, I’d like a lightsaber and a Wookie BFF, but I could live without them. With that in context, KOTOR is one of the best RPGs I’ve played and just as good as I remember it, if not better. If this were on another console, I’d be a bit indifferent in terms of presentation, but for the Switch, this almost 20-year-old classic is perfectly suited. In my opinion.