Seven years. That’s how long I considered Knights of the Old Republic my all-time favorite video game. It’s still a top five, but it was knocked off by Red Dead Redemption back in 2010. Still, that’s a good amount of time considering during that seven year (well almost) span a lot of really great games were released. They just weren’t better than Knights of the Old Republic to me.
I wasn’t into gaming websites in 2003, but I did read some magazines (GamePro, Tips & Tricks, and of course Xbox Magazine) and it was because of the magazines that I knew Knights of the Old Republic sounded like something I’d want to play. I mean come on, it’s an RPG with an original story set thousands of years before the events of the Star Wars movies. What’s not to like?
I ended up renting the game for a few days from Movie Gallery (I do miss Movie Gallery) at some point in late 2003. I was immediately hooked. I was determined to beat the game before returning it, a feat I wanted to accomplish purely because the story was so good.
I almost succeeded, after pumping in far more hours than I should have. But I didn’t finish the story, because my I got stuck on a puzzle late in the game (the floor tile one in the temple). I was just a tad angry after that, with a touch of disappointment as well. I wasn’t renting it again.
As luck would have it, I got the game for Christmas that year. Nope, I didn’t continue my save; instead, I started the whole game over again. There were side quests I didn’t do before for lack of time, there were morality decisions I regretted making, and I really wanted to experience the whole game again after the gap between the rental and Christmas.
The story of Knights of the Old Republic is still one of my favorites in a video game. Sorry if you haven’t played it, but as the game is over 11 years old now, there will be spoilers in this. Like a BIG one coming up in the very next sentence. I was absolutely stunned at the revelation that I was playing Lord Revan after having his memories wiped. That was a legitimate “WOW!” moment for me, and that really didn’t and still doesn’t happen often for me in gaming.
My initial play-through, when I experienced that revelation during the rental, it really sort of made me want to change my path. Before I was committed to being a full good guy Jedi. Finding out I was Lord Revan made me want revert back to old ways and be an evil Sith. I didn’t do that on the rental or my first play-through with the owned version. I stuck with the good guy, although I occasionally made a “bad” choice (it sometimes seemed like an okay decision to me).
My second play-through was full Sith, which was probably a lot more fun because the dark side powers were a lot better than the good side of the force. For my third play-through, I did what I wanted to do from the first time; played as a good guy until that revelation and then went bad.
I don’t think Knights of the Old Republic would have been nearly as good if it were just a standard third person action game. Being an exceptionally well made RPG is what put the game over the top, at least for me.
BioWare expanded on the Star Wars universe in a way that had never been done in a video game before, and it’s no surprise then that I’d rank it as the single best Star Wars game ever made (and I’ve played quite a few of them). They really nailed the epic adventure atmosphere that something like Star Wars deserves.
I loved walking around the Ebon Hawk, talking to my party members and trying to get them to open up. I loved the times I was able to engage in space battles while flying to one of the different planets, of which there were seven. I loved the freedom of choice and sense of adventure that Knights of the Old Republic oozes.
I don’t think its fair to look back on the game with today’s mentality of a game. If the exact same game released today, and I was playing it for the first time, I would be slightly annoyed by the combat. It is real time, but it brings with it the traditional dice roll combat typically seen in turn based RPG’s. You can be right on top of an enemy, swinging your lightsaber, and “missing.” It kind of annoyed me then, but not a great deal (I was only a year or so removed from beating Final Fantasy VII before getting this, so I was used to “missing.”), but today I wouldn’t be okay with it.
But for when it came out, Knights of the Old Republic excelled in every area: graphics, sound, gameplay, story… you name it and Knights of the Old Republic did it well. I pumped A LOT of hours into Knights of the Old Republic, and enjoyed just about every second of it (not going to lie, the beginning on Taris was a chore on subsequent playthroughs… I just couldn’t get off that planet fast enough).
I’ve tried The Old Republic, but it’s just not the same. So I still hold out hope, even though I know it’ll never happen, that one day EA and BioWare will announce Knights of the Old Republic 3.
Of course I’d just as soon have a remaster (upgraded visuals, updated real-time combat) released on PS4. It’s been ported to iOS, and Android just last December, so there’s no reason it can’t be ported over to a system I can play it on AND be able to enjoy it (and yes, I’m well aware that it is on PC).
Knights of the Old Republic is a classic that deserves to be experienced by all gamers. In some way, the spirit of Knights of the Old Republic lived on in the quite similar Mass Effect series from BioWare; but for as awesome as the lore and universe is in the Mass Effect franchise, it’s still not Star Wars. This will forever be an all-time favorite of mine.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic gets a five out of five: EXCELLENT.