Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic A First Look

BioWare, the company responsible for the RPG hit series Baldur's Gate, is turning its attention from the world of Dungeons and Dragons to a galaxy far, far away.  Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) will be set in the Star Wars universe, and if the movies took place a long, long time ago, then KOTOR takes place a really, really, long, long time ago.  Set 4,000 years before the time period of the movies, KOTOR will follow the epic struggle between the Jedi and the evil Sith at a time when both orders were at the height of their power.

ScreenshotsThe ancient setting allows the game's developers to work with locations and settings familiar to fans of the movie, while leaving them free to create a completely original storyline without needing to work within the bounds of the universe created in the Star Wars movies and books.  The result is a game with an original, extensive, and nonlinear storyline that will take you to familiar places such as Tatooine, as well as entirely new locales such as the Sith homeworld of Korriban.

The developers have also in turn given a lot of freedom to the game's players.  First of all, you'll be given the choice of whether to follow the light or dark side of the Force.  Will you fight the Sith as a Jedi, or try to conquer the galaxy as a Sith Lord?  No matter which path you pursue, you'll find the story very non-linear, leaving you free to create your own version of the history of the Old Republic.  Not only is there a nonlinear main storyline, there will be dozens of subplots and side quests.  In addition, these quests will have multiple paths, meaning that you'll have several options on how to approach and solve them. 

Like most RPGs, you'll have your choice of character class when playing KOTOR.  You can choose to play as a smuggler, bounty hunter, gambler, or Jedi Knight.  Whichever class you choose, you'll be able to interact with hundreds of NPCs, even taking part in a romance if you choose.

ScreenshotsThe game itself will be played in real-time, with real-time, pausible combat.  There will be multiple fighting styles, giving you the choice of fighting with blasters or up-close and personal with lightsabers against the monsters, battle droids, dark Jedi, and other enemies you'll face.  There will even be mini-game like combat sequences such as manning turret guns.

It won't just be your combat prowess that will be put to the test.  You'll have a set of skills, feats, and powers which you can use to persuade NPCs or to use stealth to avoid contact with them entirely.  You'll also be able to develop Force powers, subduing your enemies with Force chokes, storms, and pushes.

All of this gameplay will be wrapped in a glorious 3D wrapper.  The game will be using BioWare's own Odyssey graphics engine, and all it takes is a look at the screenshots to see how nice the game will look.  Knights of the Old Republic will be the first full-fledged RPG set in the Star Wars universe, and from the look of things it's been worth the wait.  Look for the game on the Xbox this Fall and the PC in early 2003.