Received KOTOR on the XBox, thanks to the same little druid who did most of this epic page, and have been playing the game for a good part of this week on my dusty old gaming machine.
At first I was turned off by KOTOR's staid presentation, and anything from the extended universe automatically has to try REAL damn hard to make me not angry, but there have been some interesting touches, especially The Box, which have been enjoyable. I really liked the mood of the Shadowlands in Kashyyyk, and the little kid in me is instantly thrilled at the idea of walking around on Tatooine, especially since this Tatooine isn't swarming with droids and other detritus. I'm trying to play in order from least to most interesting planet, but I'm also trying to make Korriban one of the last, just because when I played KOTOR 2 (yeah, I played it first) I was a bit disappointed that so many cool things wound up being stuffed into Korriban the second time around. Still, it promises to be uninteresting again (and it's pretty funny how their security is so lax) so it may be the place I concentrate on now.
It's pretty much telegraphed that Bioware's going the "yeah, it's pretty much A New Hope-style, just with slightly changed but wholly familiar things" route with the design and the CONSTANT DIRECT REFERENCES. I'm not sure I like that; even the much-maligned prequels at least made a stab at showing the evolution of stuff, while KOTOR seems to just repeat things with slight reconfigurations. The result can sometimes be nice, but often feels a bit creatively in-bred (Tatooine is an insignificant planet yet it's the source of constant references across just about every world. Really people? And that "uglier than a Tikarian slime hound" stuff was old before many GB users were even born, we don't need to do it any more-- I sense a Star Wars rant in my future).
Dudes and Chicks, Living Together-- MASS HYSTERIA!
Favorite characters so far are the wookie (hard for me not to like him, I've found, even if the Wookies in the game act a little weird and are hard to tell apart (clawing means you're an animal? Don't you dare say that about Chewie, jerk), and the grizzled old Jedi guy. Actually, the voice actor for the resident Solo clone is really good. I like having him around, too. And I initially didn't like Mission, but she's growing on me. Cat lady has a neat story, but her accent makes me worry a bit. That and I don't like that they couldn't have come up with a more interesting alien than cat + person. I know Star Wars wasn't afraid to make pretty easy combinations like that, especially in the old cantina scene, but...
My guy is reflecting my own reluctance to be a Jedi. I was actually hoping I wouldn't have to be, that there'd be some avenue I could take that would let me be the proficient mechanic/hacker/demolitions guy. Since I didn't rank up persuade that means all kinds of reasonable dialogue choices are usually closed off to me, which makes progress strangely abrasive (I like what I've heard about other games opening up dialogue based on skills rather than just some all-encompassing social manipulation stat), and the morality system is duplicitous and inconsistent in places, but I have serious issues with the way morality is usually portrayed in games like this anyway.
I'm Playing the Prequel!
Despite KOTOR 2's famous lack of a final act and its crazy bugs and sequence problems, KOTOR also has quite a few bugs (I've repeated quests a few times that made no sense to repeat. I wonder if I could have repeated them infinitely if I hadn't advanced), although some of them are fun to mess with, like putting characters on opposite ends of a map and then triggering cutscenes. KOTOR is apparently designed with the completionist in mind. I usually try to do everything before moving on, but I've been playing a bit more of a specific role and trying less often to pick "good" answers for their own sakes or going where the game seems to suggest I should, and as such have been getting some hiccups that tell me that they weren't expecting people to play this way.
While comparing the two it's important to note how closely that KOTOR 2 models this game in structure and style. You revisit quite a lot of situations and even a couple of planets from the first game in the second, which makes for a bit of a disappointing experience when playing it in reverse. One thing I like in KOTOR 2 is that the game engine seems to have been improved. Attributes stand for more things in the second game, making attribute choices harder (Charisma isn't necessarily a dump stat here), and the weapon mod system in KOTOR 2 is a bit more flexible (although it winds up being a lot to manage. At least KOTOR 1's system is relatively simple, and it's only lightsabers that are really a pain to manage). Swoop bike stuff is exhilerating for me no matter what, but KOTOR 1's pazaak games don't seem as fun as the second one's with its new types of cards. Still, given that KOTOR 2 doesn't really drastically change the formula, it rings a bit hollow now that I'm playing the original, which is a very similar game yet in many ways feels stronger. There are in particular some panoramas and environments in the first game that are really striking, and I don't remember the second giving me nearly as much wow there. Kreia was cool, though.
Some Sort of Phrase that Suggests the Next Two Paragraphs Will Wrap Things up
Finally I'd like to mention that I sorta dislike not getting some sort of idea of what comments characters will make to each other or on missions. I want to soak up as much as I can during one run, even if I have to go through again to see other stuff. If I bring someone along for a sequence who winds up not saying anything, it makes me wonder if I missed out on some other scene where another character will have a lot to say. I guess Bioware's still working on that whole social dynamic thing... how long has it been now?
It may sound like I don't like the game, but while there is some drudgery, there have been good character, plot, and setting moments that have made it worthwhile on the whole. I could go on but I want to play some more, so, back to it.