One of the main reasons why I love the Nintendo Switch is because of the simple fact that so many of my favorite “modern” classic video games continue to be ported over. I am well aware the gaming community is indifferent on the topic of exact ports and many would prefer remasters or remakes. Personally, I’m in the middle on this debate. Yes, I would definitely prefer a remaster or remake of a beloved game such as the upcoming GTA Trilogy.
However, I also know not every developer or publisher may have the funding or are unsure of the demand for such an investment, especially if a game is over a decade old. So, when Aspyr announced they would be porting over Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) I knew what to expect, which is exactly what we received, a solid direct port that both new and returning players could enjoy.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic takes place four thousand years before the Galactic Empire. This massive time gap allows the Star Wars lore to expand outside of the films’ story arc which in turn provides the player with a completely unique experience. KOTOR is a turn-based action RPG with a heavy emphasis on storytelling. Those who have never played this game have surely heard about it and the main reason is for the freedom to develop your character in any way that you wish.
You can interact with almost every character in KOTOR. What’s even more impressive is that the majority are voice acted and will trigger a narrative conversation. You will be given a select number of suggested responses and how the conversation progresses are solely based on your responses. With that said, your responses can alter your character’s path toward the way of the Jedi order or slowly creep your way down the path of the dark side.
When it comes to the visuals, one must remember this is a game from 2003. So does the game look dated? The answer is yes, but it’s by no means an eyesore. The same can be said for the cut scenes. The transition from game to cut scene is smooth with no stutters or loading. In fact, KOTOR has little to no load time throughout the game. Upon boot up, the game’s load bar fills up instantly and I’m off exploring.
The same applies when arriving on new planets as everything loads in seconds which is great. Each location also provides a fully immersive experience that includes a unique soundtrack and environment sounds. During your adventure, you will visit some iconic locations that will undoubtedly trigger some memories from the films. I found these as nice reminders that I’m still playing a Star Wars game and not just a run-of-the-mill sci-fi game.
KOTOR is a full-fledged RPG, not to be confused with many games today that just include RPG elements. Your first task upon starting the game is to create your character and pick a class from one of the three options which are Soldier, Scout, and Scoundrel. Don’t dwell too heavily on which class to use. These are just setting up the basic character sheet attributes and as I mentioned, the choices you make will ultimately determine how you progress. You can go with a simple preset character model or let your creative juices flow and create a character from scratch.
During your adventure, you will develop friendships and have the ability to create a party and control your party members. Each member will have some unique skills which will make them a necessity to complete particular tasks. For example, early on you will meet up with a soldier who has the ability to open locked doors. You will need to play as him by pressing R and selecting that skill while near the door. So, while KOTOR is a single-player experience, you never truly feel alone thanks to your party members.
Pressing the + button will bring you to the character menu screen. There are multiple tabs that are designed in your traditional RPG format. You have a character sheet in which you see your overall level along with weapons and gear equipped. Inventory, map, mission logs, etc. are all in this menu. One tab I recommend viewing frequently is “Messages”. This logs your most recent conversation. I found this helpful when in a deep conversation and blanking on which responses that I gave earlier. Viewing this tab will show a full log of the conversation. This is handy when trying to produce a particular desired outcome.
Now if you’re new to RPGs or someone who is always doubting what skills to level up, I recommend leaving it set on “auto”. Since this is a turn-based RPG, you will need to do some strategic planning when approaching particular enemies. KOTOR does a good amount of hand-holding in the sense that it will properly prepare you for the actions needed leading into combat. At no point will you feel lost or confused about what weapon, item, or skill you need to equip. With that said, you will find plenty of new weapons, gear, and other items during your adventure that can be shared with your party members.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a solid port of the 2003 classic. The game doesn’t introduce anything new to the core game nor does it incorporate any switch-specific features such as gyro controls or touchscreen support. The one cool feature it does have is one that so many other classic ports also benefit from, and that is the ability to play these beloved games on the go in the palm of your hands.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for the Nintendo Switch provided by Aspyr.