With Aspyr this month releasing Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic for iPad this got me to thinking about video games and where my journey as gamer started. What was it that showed me games could be more engaging than seeing how much chaos and destruction I could cause in Grand Theft Auto. The answer is simple… Darth Revan.
It was back in the summer of 2003, I was 18 years old and in my final year at college. Back in those days I wasn’t into video games so much, I was more interested in playing football (soccer) and lingering outside the Health and Beauty department chasing girls with my friends. We were very much like The Inbetweeners. GREAT DAYS!
Anyway, back to video games. I used to go to my friends house most days after classes, he had an original Xbox which we used to mess about playing Halo on. Well, it was more like him constantly thrashing me at it. One day we decided to play something different.
Enter, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I wasn’t exactly sold on the game at first. I had never played an RPG or a turn-based strategy game before. It felt totally foreign to me to the point I didn’t want to play anymore, but my friend kept on telling me ‘Mark, you have to play, it’s pure brilliance’. I played it a few more times with an open mind and determination, unwilling to be bested by a piece of software. It tuned out to be the beginning of the end for me as this is where my passion for playing games came from.
Once I had conquered the control scheme and all the menus, I found myself totally submerged within the Star Wars Universe. I had never before played a game with as much openness where I felt my choices mattered. It didn’t bother me that my character never spoke a single word, only that the other characters responded to my choices and that my choices mattered. This level of interaction between myself and the other characters was something I had never seen done before in games. I was very much used to playing Grand Theft Auto or FIFA, both very linear games. Sure, the GTA games have decent stories but nothing as deep, meaningful or as impactful as KOTOR.
Do you like a twist in your game? Well, holy hell this has the mother of all twists that I for sure didn’t see coming. It really is on par with the original Bioshock for the way it makes you sit back and reflect upon your actions and what you have been through with this character.
Character progression is what Bioware does best and this holds true here. I still remember meeting Carth Onasi for the first time and being wary of him, but as the story unfolded you see the struggles he went through because of his choices and how that affected his family, which in turn now affects his way of thinking and how he treats people he doesn’t know. You become invested in every single one of your companions, you learn what drives them, what they fear and what their own individual goals are. It’s incredibly compelling.
It’s not so much KOTOR being based on the Star Wars universe that makes it so enthralling its the story, character progression and choices in which you make. The sense of atmosphere esthetically adds to the immersion even more if you are however familiar with Star Wars. Being able to visit never realised before planets such as Korriban and Kashyyk adds scope and scale to the encounter between the Sith and Jedi. The pacing of the story makes you realise its a race against the clock to uncover the mysteries you have been chosen to solve.
Finally, If your a younger gamer or just someone looking to play a game on your iPad I implore you to pick up KOTOR for you iPad or Mac and see what games used to be like, before all the focus on which game looks the prettiest. Look past the dated graphics and focus on what the game is trying to achieve. Personally, as I have gotten older I have found that a good story and immersion beats gameplay mechanics for me everytime this is what Knights of the Old Republic offers you.
Note from Ric: This article comes from Resident Author Mark Gregory.