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Reviewed: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: August 18th, 2003
Page: 2

KOTOR is based on the Star Wars d20 system. For those who don't know what d20 is, it takes a bit to explain. Take 2 cups of original Dungeons and Dragons, add in a point-based system for skills, and throw in "Feats" that different character classes get at different points to spice things up. The combat system, though the numbering scheme changes, remains remarkably the same from the old and venerable AD&D rules. 

Character creation in KOTOR is nicely done, with a minimum of fuss, but is decently in-depth for really creating a character. Select your gender and class (Scout, Scoundrel, or Soldier), then select your face from a list of them. Then, spread 30 points among your attributes, Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Each affects your offensive or roleplaying capabilities (a high Charisma, for example, helps you convince others to help you, or give you better bounty prices, while a high Strength can massively boost the damage you do with a sword weapon). Warning: the more points you pump into a stat, the more it'll take to raise it further; get one or two stats all the way to 18 right off the bat, and the rest will be decidedly neutral.

Do the same for your skills; raise class skills and cross-class skills via points. You get more points for having a high Intelligence, plus more points for that Int every time you level up, so keep that in mind if you want to the galaxy's greatest con-man and run your persuasion skills as high as they go. Next come the feats; you only get a few to start, but don't worry, they come every couple levels or so (dependent on your class).

Yes, you can't be a Jedi to start, but don't worry; that comes later. Your main character is going to be a multi-classer, getting a few levels in your basic class before switching over to Jedi.

From this point on, travel the worlds, explore, kick butt... do what you want to do. Do evil things, and your character will swing to the Dark Side. Do benevolent things, and you'll swing to the Light. It's actually possible to remain "grey" nearly all the way through the game, if you're careful, though the game does only have two endings, Light and Dark.

Along the way, you'll pick up companions. There are nine possible in all; some are forced upon you, some you can completely ignore and never collect. There's a light-side Jedi named Bastila, an old Soldier named Carth, an astromech droid, a Twi'Lek scoundrel, a Wookie scout, a "grey" Jedi who left the Order, a young Jedi who may or may not stray to the Dark (depends which way you push), a Mandalorian soldier, and a somewhat demented Assassin Droid. Choose who you want to use, explore their side stories, or not; doing so, and how you do so, further pushes your character to Light or Dark.

The weapons are all quite nice, though the Lightsaber is a bit overpowered; for later boss fights, you may definitely want to have at LEAST two Force-capable characters along, as they can stand around and dish out large amounts of both healing and damage at the same time. It's the one weak spot in the game, but since Jedi are supposed to kick butt, we can let it slide.

Many people will talk about the game's bugs. Personally, I managed not to trip on them, but that's me. If you enjoy the game, the bugs don't matter, and they're not amazingly present.

Bottom line: I WILL NOT spoil the storyline in this review. I could, but I'd have to spoil about 6 of them, and the most fun in this game is its replayability; go through once, and you win. Go through again, and there remain tons of paths and alternate ideas to try out. It's Star Wars, and it's relatively multi-pathed, and it produces a sense of involvement we haven't had from these games in a long while.

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Added:  Monday, August 18, 2003
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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