Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was the reason I didn’t mind only having an Xbox instead of a PlayStation 2 or GameCube. Many of my friends were able to enjoy games like The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and Final Fantasy X, and while I wanted to play those games, I was forced to choose one system, like many other kids. I couldn’t imagine not choosing the Xbox though. Making the jump from Sega Genesis to Sony’s first console was life-changing; I could only imagine how good Microsoft’s debut system would be.
For the first year or two, it was mostly just fine. Okay, it was kind of boring outside of Halo: Combat Evolved. I was pretty content with Halo and Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2X for quite a while. But eventually, their shimmers eventually faded. That all tanged with Kotor.
Knights of the Old Republic consumed more of my time over the years than I’ll ever truly know. I played it obsessively like it was my actual life instead of a fictional, digital world. All I can do is guess on the time spent; my average playthrough was around forty hours and I repeatedly went there and back again. I completed a playthrough every week or so for months after first getting the game. The only thing that ever slowed me down was the load times, which is one reason I was so excited to replay it on the newest Xbox.
Knights of the old table
Microsoft’s enhancements on classic titles can oftentimes be everything but actual new graphics. But that wasn’t enough for Knights of the Old Republic. The enhancements make KOTOR run smoother and display more clearly than ever before but I was still done after a few hours. I had almost made it off Taris, the game’s first major planet and main quest line when I decided to turn it off. I leaned back and spent what felt like an hour thinking about KOTOR, its brilliant sequel, and what ultimately made the experiences feel so special to me. I thought about what kept the stories of Bastilla and Carth lingering on my mind and pressing against my memories for most of my life. And that’s when I realized I was never going to replay the original Knights of the Old Republic ever again.
It was a hard truth to accept. It’s weird setting a piece of art on a metaphorical shelf in your mind, never to touch it again. I just couldn’t continue through the old sci-fi RPG. The glimmer that once glowed had almost completely faded. The only thing that remained that still felt special were the story, dialogue, and the living tissue that connects everything within the game. It’s a world that felt alive and breathing when it was first released. It’s been almost twenty years though, which is almost an eternity for early 3D titles. The world of Knights of the Old Republic was still alive. But it was different.
Choked by the force of time
A game that once consumed all the oxygen in the conversation was gasping for breath and clinging to the bright life it once lived. I felt a sense of peace and calm hit me as KOTOR uninstalled from my console. I was already looking forward to Aspyr’s upcoming remake but I now see it as more essential than ever. Bioware’s stories and characters are ultimately what makes their games so special, and that absolutely includes KOTOR.
As of writing, we don’t know what the new iteration of Knights of the Old Republic will look like. We don’t even know what it will play like. Aspyr could choose to stick to the old combat, which is clunky but functional, or even something in between. But the moments themselves are what matter the most and the game will shine just as brightly as it did in 2003 if they’re preserved and included.
Choosing your class and slashing your way through the galaxy with words of persuasion and aggressive negotiations is what made Knights of the Old Republic so special in the first place. Making your way as a soldier, talking through things as a scoundrel, or using your wits as a scout while also helping or hurting others on the journey ahead is what made KOTOR feel so ahead of its time. And it’s why the game’s foundation and skeletal structure should work so well as a storytelling vehicle nearly twenty years later.
Leaps in computer graphics technology, processing power, and all the new possibilities afforded to storytelling should help Bioware’s original script shine brighter than ever before. The original game remains interesting but perhaps exclusively so for anyone that’s already taken the trip more than once. Bioware’s classic Star Wars RPG adventure was a formative title for me and helped emphasize the impact of my actions on the world around me. I was planning on taking several more hyperspace trips around KOTOR I & II before the remake’s release but I think I’ll leave those to my memories, which are more clear than resolution upscaling can ever hope to be.