(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.)
After doing two adventure games back-to-back, I felt it was time to head back into a classic CRPG. And while I’ve done (most of) KOTOR 2 for Retro Gaming, I haven’t ever gone through the original BioWare classic. I think I’ve played it through, all the way, at least twice in the past, but it has been a long while and I would love to revisit the first game and see how the Old Republic gaming series first took root. I’m sure parts of it, like the graphics, haven’t aged that well, but I’ve always had very fond memories of first playing this one my old gaming PC as a bachelor, filling the nights with adventures in a galaxy far, far away.
As with KOTOR 2, for this playthrough I’m going to buck against the expectations of becoming a lightsaber-wielding Jedi and instead focus more on building an unorthodox dual blaster Scoundrel (who just so happens to have force powers because the game foists those on you whether you want them or not). I’m also going light side, as I don’t see a lot of added benefit in being a murder hobo jerk, and I don’t really want those force powers anyway.
KOTOR begins with that hoary RPG trope — video game amnesia. Syppi awakes on the Endar Spire, a Republic ship that’s currently under attack. Even as she has no memory of who she is or what she’s doing here, Captain Exposition up there runs in and says that the ship’s been boarded by the Sith and we need to go protect the uppity Jedi — Bastila Shan — with our level 1 naked bodies.
Soon we’re introduced to Carth, the resident whiny man-baby of KOTOR. BioWare is legally required to put one of these characters into each of its games as a companion, and this is the guy we got. He kind of makes you want to go down the dark side, just to tweak his nose.
Being set thousands of years before the Star Wars movies, KOTOR couldn’t completely ape all of the design elements, although it could homage them to death. So instead of the white stormtrooper outfits, the Sith troopers here have this neat gold reflective armor that I quite like. The Republic look just as dorky as the Rebel extras did in the films.
What I don’t completely buy is the use of swords. I mean, they go out of their way to say that these are VIBROswords and thereby can parry lightsabers because of… vibration… I guess? Sword fighting like this doesn’t fit, nor does it look anywhere as cool as blaster fire, with its sparks and laser light show.
With dark Jedi all over the ship, there’s this palpable sense of danger for us newly minted souls. We can’t stand up to them, so it’s all about fleeing and surviving to fight another day.
The good news? Syppi is able to escape from the Endar Spire before it completely blows up (and then mostly reconstructs itself to fall into large, explorable pieces onto the planet below for SWTOR). The bad news? Carth is along for the ride. Sigh. Carth, I can’t wait to ditch you, because you are going to get ditched so hard it’ll change your part, pal.
As Syppi lays unconscious for the second time in the last 20 minutes, she has a dream vision of Bastila fighting a faceless dark Jedi. I guess it’s a good thing that this ship has in-flight entertainment, although it’s pretty short.