Knights of the Old Republic (the old one)

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ahoodedfigure

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Edited By ahoodedfigure

KOTOR Else

 
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. 
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#1  Edited By ahoodedfigure

KOTOR Else

 
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. 
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#2  Edited By WitchHunter_Z

Ah, KotoR... my favourite Star Wars game actually. I'm also not so keen on most of the expanded universe stuff, but the fact that it's so far in the past that it can be entirely separate yet still familiar really appealed to me. 
 
I took a similar order visiting planets as you my first time around, and ended up regretting it, on Tatooine especially. The Tusken Raiders scale much rougher than the other enemies in the game, so if you visit it last they can decimate you in a few shots. My favourite party member is found there as well, so I really regretted not getting him sooner.

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#3  Edited By Bigandtasty

I too saw the little things that annoyed you when I was playing KotOR. Personally, I'm not huge on the Star Wars continuity and the series' universe, so I didn't mind too much when there were inconsistencies like that. But the rough edges around the morality/decision system and how your choices become more limited when you don't have enough persuasion, or if you want the "best" result -- that bothered me. 
 
But I tend to cut BioWare some slack because of the large number of possibilities that can happen through team combinations, decisions, etc. and prefer to see their games for what they are rather than what they could have been (not saying you don't; you're just pointing out some inconsistencies). That problem is amplified in Mass Effect 3; by importing an ME2 character, a player might have a Shepard who has pissed a lot of aliens off, and who has very few allies remaining to fight the Reapers. Would that handicap him in the final battle? Should that handicap him in the final battle?
 
I'm definitely interested in how they handle Mass Effect 3 -- there's a lot that can go wrong, but it would be amazing to have a game that is fulfilling no matter what decisions are imported from ME2 and what decisions are finalized in ME3.
 
I know some dudes who love KotOR (one of whom names it his favorite game). Perhaps they saw through its flaws and just really loved the experience overall. I can't say I loved the game, but I played Mass Effect first.

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#4  Edited By ArbitraryWater

KotOR remains one of my favorite games of all time. However, I haven't played it in a few years and I wonder how well it would hold up now, in my post-BGII, post Dragon Age and Post Mass Effect 2 Bioware experience. I remember the actual gameplay as being an exact fit for my rant about useless playstyles. If I recall correctly, all the blaster characters kind of suck, there is no reason to be a scoundrel unless you hate yourself, and the best combat feats are rapid shot and flurry. 
 
KotOR 2 may fix some of these problems, but I still hate that game with a passion. While, yes, the story and world of KotOR are fairly reminiscent of A New Hope, albeit with a smattering of the usual Bioware story tropes, at least the game feels like Star Wars. KotOR 2's tone is grim and it enjoys focusing on moral greys (i.e. Kreia, even though she was really evil after all and wanted to destroy the force for a reason that I have yet to understand), neither of which are actually Star Wars (Frankly, Star Wars is very much a morally black and white universe, which suits Bioware quite well). Is it fanservice to include Tatooine as a planet? Hell yes. I would have preferred that they added Sleheyron (the planet that was cut early in development. A volcanic world ruled by the hutts), but it serves as a connection to Star Wars, which helps it avoid the taint that infects most of the Star Wars expanded universe
 
It's the characters that make the story, and while I find both Carth and Bastila to be the obligatory dull moral compasses, I still think HK-47 is one of the best Bioware characters ever made, right up there with Edwin in BGII and Shale in Dragon Age. I also remember Jolee as being pretty awesome, though Mission annoyed the crap out of me with the "I'm a spunky girl, and I won't take your guff!" attitude.  Of course, I would need to play the game again to really get all this stuff back in my head, which I am now considering after reading this blog.  Maybe I will do a retrospective on it.

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#5  Edited By Claude

I haven't played this game since its release in 2003. Hard to believe that was 7 years ago. It was my first real RPG and my memories have faded as to what happened and who the characters were. I do remember the larger storyline, but that's about it. I'm sure if I picked it up today, it would all come flooding back to me. I've gone back and played games from my past before, Majora's Mask, and the game felt like a well worn glove. It was the little things that I had forgotten.  

I have KotOR 2 for my PC. I've tried playing it over and over again, but can't get into it. I wonder if the first KotOR would do the same. I played it on my long gone Xbox, but a PC play of the original might make it feel original again. Maybe I'll give KotOR 2 one more chance.

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#6  Edited By RagingLion

"Received KOTOR on the XBox, thanks to the same little druid who did most of this epic page " ... creatively referring to yourself in the third-person?  I don't object.
 
Bought KOTOR in a Steam sale myself so I might give it a go at some point although it's not jumping out at me at the moment.  Don't have a special place in my heart for the fiction, though I quite enjoyed the films.

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#7  Edited By Jimbo

It's probably harder to appreciate KOTOR now than it was all those years ago - the 'Bioware Special' story and game structure hadn't been milked to death at that point.  You need to play it right through before you can fairly judge some of the aspects you touch on in your blog.  I can't be any more specific without ruining the game for you, so I won't.
 
I assume the Solo clone you're referring to is Carth Onasi - fwiw, I didn't take him as that Solo'y - and he's voiced by the same guy that does Kaidan Alenko in Mass Effect.  Bastilla Shan is voiced by Jennifer Hale, who is also in Mass Effect, voicing Female Shepard.

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#8  Edited By Meptron

Played this back when it first came out, but I recently bought it again on Steam. Have a long trip coming up and I bought some steam games to keep me occupied. Got this, Borderlands, Trine, and Torchlight.

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#9  Edited By JoeyIA

Now that XBL v1 is down you can't download that space station for Kotor anymore can you? :( Not that its a big deal.

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#10  Edited By ahoodedfigure
@JoeyIA:  Sheesh, I didn't even think of that.  Probably had a bunch of bug fixes, too.  I never actually hooked up to XBL, and I'm a bit bewildered about how I could have done that, but I guess the decision's been made for me now that I actually realize, too late, that I could have used it.  :)  I heard it was mostly a loot pile, but it still would have been interesting.
 
@Meptron: Sounds like you have a good selection!
 
@Jimbo: I characterize him as Solo-y by his being the skeptical normal person, more than Solo's particular personality.  I see why I like Carth so much now; I realize a lot of people don't like Kaidan but I thought his voice work was some of the best in ME--  his interpretations of the lines are never rote; he internalizes it a bit and it really shines through.  I'm surprised to hear you say Hale plays Castilla, though!  She does quite well but I think her ME work was outstanding.  I am a bit humbled by some of the performances and the character arcs after having played a bit further now, though, so I'll reflect that if I write any more about my impressions.  Bugs still abound, though.
 
@RagingLion: No, I don't refer to myself in the third person.  Star Wars was huge in my childhood.  I saw Ep. IV not long after it came out when I was barely able to form sentences, so it was the single largest pop culture event of my younger life, and I still like the old versions of the first 3 filmed.
 
@Claude: I'll probably try to pick up KOTOR 2 once I finish with this one, now that the story continuity, such as it is, will make more sense. I'm also not surprised that the next Star Wars move by Bioware was toward an MMORPG.  Even if they're ultimately different beasts, there's a bit of that feeling that I got during my limited runs with MMORPGS, like with kiting and aggro stuff.  That revelation made me actually not completely uninterested in trying out their upcoming game, at least theoretically, especially since they make non-Jedi classes viable.   If you do try out the sequel or the original, be sure to post something about your impressions.
 
@ArbitraryWater: Well, don't get me wrong, seeing Tatooine was great.  I was happy with it despite my dislike of the fan service stuff seeping into just about everything.  It had a cool tone, and that open desert had a real endless feel that you often don't get in games with a lot of planet-hopping.  I tried not to game the system too much, and my characters were still viable.  The blaster characters have their advantages but they often can be overwhelmed when you get dumped on by tons of Force users.  I think Force users in general started out as almost paranormal samurai, but have since been beefed up into demigods that serve to empower viewers.  I liked it better when the Jedi were all but extinct :)  As always, I'll be interested in reading anything you have to write should you try to take a crack at KOTOR again, although it looks like it annoys you in many ways :)
 
@Bigandtasty: Exactly.  I admire what Bioware seems intent on doing, which is doing an insane experiment in combining variables.  They seem to have gotten a bit better at it lately, though, because in KOTOR I test this just by my random decisions (and I'm still good at breaking games).  After I wrote this I caused a bug that made it impossible to trigger a story element for my cat lady, freezing her in a constant state of seething anger that may well have persisted for the rest of the game had I not gone to an earlier save point.  Still, they manage to reward you with unique moments because of your personalized choices, rather than punish you for them, and it's hard to fault them for trying that.  So many other game makers try to railroad you a lot harder than they do.  Do you know if anyone's looked at the save data file when you complete ME2?  I'd be interested in hearing about what new data is added to the old decision data.
 
@WitchHunter_Z: A lot of people like HK I gather :)  You're right about the Tusken Raiders, they were pretty rough, especially the holy warriors and the elites, until I advanced my force push to max-- then I could pretty much wipe them out in the most undignified way possible.  My own planet order has wound up causing at least one weird issue, but I'm not sure if these sorts of problems are common. What's funny is that I tried to bypass the need for HK altogether, just to be defiant, but found out after trial and error that having him around was the only way not to murder everyone.  I may try out a Sith route next time.  If I do I'll take Korriban last and maybe Tatooine first, just to spice things up.
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#11  Edited By Roger778

Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic is my all-time favorite game, with the first Splinter Cell at Number 2.  It had everything, a great story, combat that slowly helps you get comfortable thanks to a good tutorial system, likable characters (HK-47 is hilarious), and of course, the opportunity to become a Jedi, light side, or dark side.   
 
The Sith Lords is almost as good as the first one, and could have been much better if it hadn't had a rushed development.  But, it's a great RPG, though.   
 

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#12  Edited By ahoodedfigure
@Roger778:  Thanks for your comment.  I'd say the rushed development all but ruined my experience of the second game, because I felt as though I had been let down, both by reviewers who never mentioned all the traps, freezes, unpopulated endgame, and broken sequences, and the designers/publishers/whoever you want to blame.  
 
Playing the first game second, I was struck by the tone and variation of the worlds, and how things actually took a swing at some inconsistencies in the current accepted interpretation of the Star Wars mythology, or whatever you want to call it.  But I resented that I had no choice BUT to be a Jedi.  I'm one of those fogies who thinks that Jedi are part of the picture, but not the whole picture, so it was hard not to resent it when I was handed a light saber, as though I ever wanted one in the first place (except for maybe opening up those locked storage containers :) ).
 
You pay any attention to the MMO they're making?  I've been reading about that and some other things this week.  It hasn't convinced me it's anything other than an MMO, but at least you get the feeling that they're trying to revive the series, albeit indirectly (and with way too high a budget).

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