(This is part of my journey going playing through 2003’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)
Fresh off the now-exploded Endar Spire, Syppi and angsty Carth are hiding out in the apartments on the upper levels of Taris. It’s actually a pretty good setting for the initial stage of the game, as the planet is under Sith control (meaning lots of enemies around and no leaving) and rich in that Star Wars feel. Also, the music! The soundtrack is amazing as it settles into the background and helps you get into the mood of the setting.
So one big pet peeve I have with KOTOR is that none of the characters ever holster their weapons. I really wish they would, because it’s so awkward to have them constantly holding pistols and swords while talking and running around.
Why do I hate Carth so much? Well, you’ve obviously never played KOTOR if you have to ask that, but the short answer is that he is trying way too hard to be a Han Solo type, if Han Solo was much more insecure and needy. To make myself feel better, I steal and equip Carth’s custom blaster while calling him a sexist worm and a sexless marsh toad. He’s a romance option, but that’ll happen only when Hell freezes over. And even then, probably not.
Without any clear direction other than to try to find Bastila’s escape pod, it’s time for that RPG tradition of “barge into every domicile in the area and steal everything that’s not nailed down.” And even then, we have a hammer to pry things up.
Naturally, as this is Star Wars, there’s a cantina nearby. It’s got an assembly of assorted toughs and brats, although you can play some cards or fight in an arena if you’re feeling lucky.
KOTOR wasn’t the first game to include some sort of morality meter, but it definitely was the first to really catch my attention. Although it’s kind of a trite and stilted feature these days, the light-side/dark-side paths in KOTOR aided in both roleplaying and replayability. You could go down the light side by being nice and helpful, down the dark side by being Hitler reborn, or just hang out in the middle by doing a bit of both. Since there isn’t much of a benefit from going “grey,” you might as well go all-out one way or the other for bonuses, exclusive force powers, and visual flair. As I said last time, I’m doing light side because I never really saw much fun in being unnecessarily cruel.
One of the first LS/DS choices on Taris is whether or not to turn in a doctor who is hiding hurt Republic troops. I kind of wish I could be floating in a jar in my underwear some days. Looks comfy.
The only real drawback to light side is that you don’t end up with as much stuff. Like, you give away more credits to be nice than extorting them, that sort of thing. Then again, you get that artificial feeling of being a good person in a virtual world where NPCs praise your name and then dash off, never to be seen again.
One nice touch is that KOTOR does make a bit of an effort to portray the Sith as something other than evil killing dudes. You get to know how they’re still people who work 9 to 5 jobs and party afterward. They’re still on Team Evil and deserve to be killed, of course, but it’s a little humanization that helps to round them out.
Also, Syppi totally steals one of the Sith uniforms to disguise herself and gain entrance to the lower city. It’s time to leave this life of upper crust luxury and descend into the belly of the city beast.
Welcome to lower Taris, where criminal gangs struggle for turf and swoop-bike races break all the speed limits. It’s more grungy but far more Star Warsian, if that makes any sense. I’m just glad there are tons of mobs to gun down, since I need the XP to get as many Scoundrel levels as possible on this planet. The only real combat gripe I have at this point is that there’s no natural hit point regen nor any force healing, so it’s either buying/scavenging a lot of med packs or keep making trips back to certain rest spots to heal up. Carth keeps falling down in battle if someone sneezes in his direction.