Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic is a series of role-playing videogames set approximately 4,000 years before the original Star Wars trilogy. The games are rooted in a unique take on the Star Wars Universe that caught on so well with fans, that it was expanded from just a videogame franchise into a Dark Horse comic line, an upcoming MMO, and a line of action figures.
The original Knights of the Old Republic was developed by Bioware, set so far in the past of the Star Wars Universe in order to give Bioware complete stort freedom, without having to worry about fitting into the storyline of the movies or the prequel trilogy. The first game tells the story of the Jedi Civil War, a conflict immediately following the Mandalorian Wars, where the Jedi Order has turned upon itself, and is split into two factions, one now waging war against the Republic, the other defending it. The Dark Lord of the Sith Malak is using his seemingly endless armada to crush the Republic forces, and the player is thrust into this conflict as an unwitting pawn.
- Released: July 15, 2003
- Platforms: PC, Xbox, iPad
The sequel, The Sith Lords, continued the same sort of gameplay, but perhaps half a decade after the original KOTOR ended, and with a new main character. The Sith Lords further expanded upon the lore and the time period, fleshing out the Mandalorian wars, and new planets not seen in the original KOTOR. The story concerned the aftermath of the Jedi Civil War, and a triumvirante of Sith Lords that was hunting down the remaining Jedi. KOTOR II's story was much more philisopical and complex, although it distinctly lacked an ending, which somewhat detracted from the experience.
- Released: December 6, 2004
- Platforms: PC, Xbox
On October 21st, 2008, Bioware officially unveiled their MMO project, Star Wars: The Old Republic, an MMO set 300 years after the original KOTOR games. Despite the jump forward in the time period, The Old Republic is still very much a member of the KOTOR franchise, involving many of the same places, and descendants of characters you met in the KOTOR RPG's, along with possible return appearances by droids from the original games. Bioware says they aim to make story a central focus of SWOR, emphasizing it just as much in the MMORPG environment as they did in the single-player environment. The artstyle in the game has been tweaked noticeably from the previous KOTOR games, heading for a slightly more cartoony and stylized look, although not extremely so.
- Release: 2011
- Platform: PC
The "Knights of" was dropped from the title do to the MMO's focus on classes other than Jedi and Sith Force users, which, while being components of the game, will not be the sole class, or even focus of the game. Likely that's the only thing anyone will play though.
Both KOTOR games have a similar framework of exploration, conversation, and turn-based combat. The games focus heavily on story and character interaction via dialogue trees, as opposed to the heavy focus on combat and prerendered cinematics that characterizes Eastern RPGS. All cinematics are interactive, and the player can choose their responses to the situation, which the game will chart on a good vs. evil meter, which determines the player's appearance and how their companions relate to them.
Due to the success of the game franchise, Star Wars comic publisher Dark Horse launched a KOTOR comic series, set shortly before the events of the original Knights of the Old Republic, during the Mandalorian Wars. This comic series follows the adventures of disgraced Jedi Padawan Zayne Carrick, and features characters from the games in cameo and supporting roles, with appearances from Revan to Bastilla to Malak. The KOTOR line is one of Dark Horse's most popular Star Wars comics, behind only the far-future Legacy series.