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Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
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The very first Star Wars RPG just also happens to be the best Star Wars game ever and one of the finest video games I've ever experienced.  To get an example of just how much this game sucked me in and involved me emotionally, here are a few of my utterances while playing this game: "And that's what you get for opposing me!" (insane laughter), "So much for the infamous Calo Nord", and "That felt terrible" (while doing something I knew was the right thing to do).  Knights of the Old Republic has done with ease what many RPGs before it have struggled to do--engage a wide variety of emotions on multiple levels and doing so without relying on overt cliches.  The smart, fast-paced script kept things gripping throughout and contained some of the best dialogue ever written into an RPG or Star Wars game, which is a major breath of fresh air for those turned off by the stilted writing of the prequel movies.  Not only did the main story, which had one doozy of a plot twist, rock, but so did the equally as compelling sidequests, which often fleshed out the secondary characters and even the NPCs.  The villain was also truly menacing and well thought out.
 
Complex characters and brilliant writing obviously hold sway, but the technical side of the game is nothing to sneeze at.  The music is brilliant, with familiar Star Wars instrumentals woven throughout the game.  When I heard "The Force" theme song upon booting up the game, I knew I would instantly fall in love.  And even though the graphics aren't exactly the top tier for the X Box, it is still used to the fullest potential to paint vivid, brilliant worlds, such as the ocean world of Manaan, and even seeing the barren expanses of Tatooine stretching out away from you is a sight to behold.  Like Panzer Dragoon Saga, Knights of the Old Republic puts you at shoulder level to the characters, instead of giving a top-down view or having tiny models.  This really gives you an incredible sense of immersion.
 
The battle system is a mix of real time and turn based and uses the Dungeons and Dragons D20 system.  Fighting takes place in real time but all you have to do select one of several attacks and skills, which either repeat until you select something else or remain in effect for a certain time period.  You can even pause the action if you so wish as you issue orders.  Movement takes place in real time as well, and even though you can't attack while moving(a glaring omission of "realism"), sometimes it becomes necessary to find a different foothold in the battlefield.  What it all boils down to is that this game contains some of the most exciting and blindingly fast battles I've ever seen.  This makes this game succeed where most RPGs seem like little more than repetitive exercises in "press X and wait".  The lightsaber battles are the obvious hallmark of the game, but even the blaster fights are exciting, and the multiparty brawl on the Wookie homeworld is one of the best, most truly gripping battles I've ever seen.
 
But what really elevates this game above the rest is its sense of choice.  Choice of what characters to bring on your missions, for they all offer different strengths and skills.  Choice of how to allocate your points to increase your stats and what skills to choose.  Choice of what class to start off with and what kind of Jedi to be.  Even a choice of how to go about resolving a certain problem or a certain quest.  And of course there's the now famous choice of whether to be good or evil, which was also seen in Fable but works to much better effect here.
 
Every game has its flaws, and Knights of the Old Republic has a few minor ones, such as the tendancy of the background characters to get glitchy and jump around occasionally, and the three minigames, swoop racing, Pazaak cards, and ship turret battles, which feel rather ordinary when compared with the rest of the game.  However, these minigames really don't feel as intrusive the ones in other RPGs, which are often riddled with meaningless minigames.  And this game's flaws really don't bring down what is otherwise an astounding masterpiece.  The many levels that this game works on is simply amazing.  The narration is well written, emotional, and complex.  The Star Wars authenticity is top notch.  The level of immersion is brilliant.  The battles are fierce, and the technical aspects are deep.  Simply put, it's one of the greatest games of all time.

Grade: Legendary

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