Cut-rate KOTOR

So, Knights of the Old Republic was on sale for $10 on Steam, and I’ve heard it recommended a lot.  So far it’s a lot of fun.  Bioware gives good RPG.  (It’s also blessedly free of the prequel trilogy– no midichlorians in sight.  It’s supposed to take place 4000 years in the past, so there are also no character cameos.  It looks like clothing style and technology hasn’t changed much in this galaxy far far away between long long ago and even longer ago.)

Strangely, it’s transitional between their D&D roots and the simpler, real-time combat of Jade Empire or Mass Effect.  It looks like real-time combat, but it’s all d20 rolls– there’s none of this hifalutin “aiming”, and you can let your character handle the first fights all by herself (as she doesn’t have any special attacks yet).  Fortunately combat gets more interesting later on, as you direct three characters with varying abilities and special powers, including the Force. 

kotor party
Sith vanquished... by liquor

Battles vary between easy and really annoyingly difficult– it’s good to have a dozen medpacks on hand before addressing anything in the plot.  On the other hand, sometimes you get unexpected help.  I was invited to a Sith party, above.  They commented on the strength of the local liquor, then all of them immediately collapsed.  Bottoms up!

Some bits linger on the wrong side of the difficulty curve, in either direction.  You have to run a “swoop race”, which is absurdly easy (and nowhere near as fun as the races in Beyond Good and Evil).  But I was stymied for awhile by the first space combat, which was all the more annoying because you can’t save the game at that point– if you fail, you have to sit through a whole load of cutscenes again.

The wages of dueling: stomach upset
The wages of dueling: stomach upset

There’s a duelling stage on the first planet; one amusing bit (shown above) is that all the fighters you vanquish hang around afterwards with one hit point, clutching their stomachs.

More strangeness: the introductory tutorial is given by one of the characters; it’s probably meant to be immersive, but it’s anything but as this Republic soldier tells you how to use your mouse.

Probably more reporting to come, because this is a long game.