Review: Knights of the Old Republic

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is an RPG game by Bioware, released in 2003. I, however, didn’t know this game existed until a couple of years ago. I didn’t really get into PC gaming until mid-2019, and the first time I played KotOR was in early 2020.

I’d just finished playing Mass Effect 2, so I genuinely wasn’t impressed by the game at first. KotOR is rather clunky in comparison – since, you know, it’s from 2003 and ME2 is from 2010. It took a while for me to get used to the controls and I genuinely couldn’t get into the game. I have zero idea why, since I’ve played older games and had zero problems with them.

For some reason, in February of this year I thought about replaying KotOR. The thing is, I don’t particularly like replaying video games. If there’s achievements I’ve missed or some kind of New Game+, I’ll do it, but otherwise? There’s no justifiable reason to replay a game when I already own so many unplayed ones.

I actually considered doing a screenshot & text Let’s Play of a new KoTOR playthrough. I even wrote a blog post as a test to see what it would look like, but decided against it as it would take way too long. Something like that would take more than 10 blog posts.

So I decided on a review. Perfect justification for replaying a game.


Playthrough 1: Scout/Jedi Sentinel, Light-side male, 44 hours

Playthrough 2: Scout/Jedi Consular, Light-side female, 31.5 hours

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First things first: this game, like every game, has some bugs.

  1. When a video plays, the game window sometimes minimizes. This is much more of a problem when there are two or three videos back-to-back.
  2. Characters sometimes get stuck after combat. This is something that never happened when I played on my laptop, but happened frequently on my desktop. It’s not too much of a problem since most of the time you can just switch to another character and have them lead the party instead, but sometimes all three party characters get stuck, which is a pain. However, this isn’t too much of a bad bug because…you can save the game right there and reload the save, which makes it possible for the character to move again.
  3. Party members occasionally get stuck behind part of the geometry and have a hard time getting to you. This has resulted in me trying to exit an area only to be told that I need to gather my party, checking the map, and seeing that a character is halfway across the map. Usually, you have to wait for the character to catch up.
  4. A bug I only encountered on my laptop: the grass can cause a weird graphical glitch in the sky. This can be fixed by turning off the grass in the options menu.

For my second playthrough, I installed the Kotor 1 Community Patch, so I have no idea how many other glitches and bugs there are in the base game.

Secondly, I’m going to review each planet. I think that’s the easiest way to start things off. And I’m going to skip talking about the tutorial level (the Endar Spire), because it’s pretty much just an introduction to the game mechanics & controls.

Taris

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Taris is the first planet you end up on. I know a lot of people don’t like the planet because it takes up a lot of time and you don’t get to become a Jedi until you get to Dantooine (you usually end up at level 8 out of 20 total levels), but I personally think the planet is fine.

You get most of your party members here – Carth, Mission, Zaalbar, Bastila, T3-M4, and Canderous. You can talk to all of those party members and each of them has their own personal quest you can do…except for T3-M4. This droid is obtained for the single purpose of…opening the door to the Sith Base.

One door. You can use T3 to open all the other locked doors in the game, but there are other characters who can do that, too. T3 isn’t good in combat, has no personality, you can’t have conversations, and it has no personal mission. There is literally no reason for T3 to exist other than as an obligatory droid character. I don’t even have any screenshots of this droid.

There are a ton of sidequests on Taris, and you can help a ton of people…which ultimately ends up not mattering at all (except for the experience you get for completing them) since the planet gets destroyed when you leave it.

Dantooine

Dantooine is where you actually get to become a Jedi!

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Dantooine is also the first planet where the grass glitch pops up, since the planet is covered in grass. The planet has quite a few sidequests – mostly stuff that you’re tasked to resolve as a Jedi – and the seventh party member: Juhani.

Juhani is one of the two optional party members – rather than persuading her away from the dark side, you can straight up kill her once you meet her. I genuinely don’t know why you’d want to do this. Juhani is one of the more useful party members in combat.

There are ruins on Dantooine that are 20,000 years old, because it wouldn’t be Star Wars without lots of improbably old things. This is where you learn the main objective of the game: travel to four planets – Tattooine, Kashyyyk, Manaan, and Korriban – and use the star maps on those planets to find the Star Forge.

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This is where the game finally opens up. You can travel to any of the four planets in any order you want. You can come back to Dantooine at any time you want before you complete your third planet. You can complete a sidequest on one planet, go to another, complete a few more quests, and go back and forth without penalty – unless you include the docking fees on Manaan as a penalty.

I did actually do a little bit of that in my second playthrough, but primarily stuck to the recommended order of Tatooine -> Kashyyyk -> Manaan -> Korriban.

Tatooine

Maybe it’s because Tatooine is the first planet I chose to go to, but I think it’s the best planet in the game. Three characters have their personal quests here: Mission, Bastila, and Canderous. You can make a lot of money through swoop racing. You can get your second optional party member, HK-47. And if you do things correctly, you can learn a lot about the backstory of Tatooine.

Also, this is where you first start getting attacked by groups of Dark Jedi.

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This isn’t really a bad thing, because you get lightsabers from them. Extra lightsabers are always good to have and they sell for quite a bit of money if you don’t want to keep them.

HK-47 is the eighth party member you can obtain. He’s necessary for negotiating with the Sand People, so if you don’t plan on doing that, then it isn’t actually necessary to buy him. HK-47 doesn’t have a personal quest, but you can repair him (using your Repair skill) over the game to learn more about his backstory.

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I really have to recommend bringing HK-47 along to talk to the Sand People. You will learn a lot about the history of Tatooine and how it relates to things you learn later in the game.

Kashyyyk

For some reason, it feels like there isn’t much to do on this planet. It may be because Zaalbar’s personal quest takes place here and it’s non-optional. A lot of the sidequests here are more integrated into the main story than on other planets.

Kashyyyk is where you meet Jolee Bindo, an old Jedi who apparently doesn’t follow the dark or light side of the Force.

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Jolee is, in my opinion, the most interesting character in the game. You learn a lot about the Jedi and wars from years ago. And since he’s a grey Jedi, he can use both light and dark-side force powers without penalty. This makes Jolee – also in my opinion – another really good combat-oriented character. There’s really no reason not to bring him everywhere.

Manaan

Of all the planets, I like Manaan the least. The planet is genuinely too big – four maps for Alto City, one of the Sith base, and a couple for the Hrakert Rift (underwater) sections.

Jolee’s personal quest takes place here. His friend, Sunry, is on trial for murder and you’re asked to help prove that Sunry is innocent, because Jedi apparently do that sort of thing. I didn’t think much of it on my first playthrough, but when I looked up the possible outcomes of the trial, I realized that I had missed a lot of information. On my second playthrough, I made sure to find every piece of information I could and got an entirely different outcome from the trial.

The Hrakert Rift section of Manaan is the shortest section on the planet, but it’s the most tedious, because you move extremely slowly while wearing the environment suit.

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I think this is what most people hate about the Manaan. I definitely hated it in my first playthrough, but found it not so bad in my second.

Also, what’s kind of hilarious is that you can get attacked by Sith when you’re at the bottom of the ocean:

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Yep, you can even ask them how they got down there.

Korriban

Korriban is under control of the Sith. There’s even a Sith training academy there, which you have to get into in order to find the location of the planet’s star map.

There are also a bunch of Sith archaeologists looking through tombs in the Valley of the Dark Lords, something I thought was more interesting than most things in this game. Maybe it’s because I like archaeology?

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Carth’s personal quest takes place on Korriban, and Juhani can run into an ex-Jedi (now Sith) who she used to know. This only happens if you have her in your party, so I had no idea about it until my second planthrough.

The Unknown World

So after you’ve gone to all four planets and obtained all four star maps, you find the location of the Star Forge. Then, when you try to go there, you crash-land on another planet. This planet has sidequests, and you can also get money, even though you’re past the point where you can buy anything.

I don’t want to say much about this planet because it would be going too far into spoiler territory, but it is quite a pretty place.

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Star Forge

Eventually you actually get to the Star Forge, which is the only place in the game that has respawning enemies. While there’s a cutscene where Malak says that all available troops are sent out against you, there’s no indication that this means that the waves of enemies do not end. This makes a couple of areas pretty difficult to get past.

Except, of course, if you go into solo mode and move each character from one safe area to another. That pretty much lets you bypass all the fighting. Since you’re at level 20 by the time you get to the Star Forge, there’s no actual reason to level up any longer.

Here is one frustrating thing that I did not know before going into the final boss the first time: it’s just about impossible to defeat the boss if you don’t have one out of a couple of specific force powers. In my second playthrough, I made sure I had at least one, and was actually able to defeat the boss.

Additional Things

There are plenty of ridiculous dialogue choices you can make, most of which are dark-aligned. Most of them came across as way too unreasonable for me to consider – like responding to a request for help with threatening to kill people.

You can ask each character about each planet, and all of them have a unique thing to say. You can also have conversations with each character and learn more about them as the story progresses, but the trigger is different with each character. New dialogue appears after the player character levels up, the party members level up, or after you find a new star map. There’s no way to know which applies to which character without checking a guide.

Overview

This is a pretty good role-playing game, even if the controls are rather clunky and outdated. Just look up a guide if you want to make sure you don’t miss something or build your character in the wrong way. You’ll probably want to be able to defeat the final boss on your first playthrough.