Blast from the Past
A long, long, even longer time ago in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
During the ‘golden years’ of developer BioWare they managed to get their RPG mitts on the Star Wars license. What followed is still one of the most highly regarded games in both RPG and Star War history. It seemed to capture that heroic vibe of the franchise, but still had some twists of its own.
Knights of the Old Republic, which is not to be confused with the much more recent MMO The Old Republic that’s also from BioWare, was set about 4,000 years before any of the major films. This meant the studio had a free hand pretty much to spin their own origin stories and flesh out whole eras that had been left untouched.
At its heart KOTOR was a single-player RPG with a real-time combat system but each attack or force ability wouldn’t only consume power, but have individual cooldowns giving you a bit of a hybrid feel. It meant combat could get tense but it didn’t run away from you. This wasn’t going all Jedi Knight on you with wild flinging of lightsabers and blaster pistols – although that is pretty awesome. Instead you were playing at a more traditional RPG pace in battles.
”Wipe this pathetic planet from the face of the galaxy.”
The story is one that begins as so many of these things do — you’re an amnesiac who has little to no idea what the heck is going on when your suddenly part of an attack and forced to quickly start defending yourself and fight to escape. It’s here you start being introduced to notable characters — some are future companions — and start finding out what skills you can have in the game and how they’ll help you if you invest in them later.
It captures the hope and despair of the Star Wars universe so well and even today it holds up against much fancier game engines. It’s the story and base mechanics of the game that will keep you hooked in KOTOR. This isn’t exactly a 4K resolution friendly adventure but it’s aged well. The music is one of the strongest elements in the game as they invoke some of the more iconic pieces but also composed their own helping swell your chest with Republic patriotism or the sinister glee of the Sith.
The other really great thing in KOTOR is that its set during a time when Jedi and Sith are in far greater numbers, meaning they’re common place. You have gear you’ll be equipping and can improve with little modifications, which also includes beefing up your lightsabers. You start out as a non-force using character class before ‘getting discovered’ that you’re actually force sensitive and can begin training in the ways of the force. Quick tip: Unlock Force Push, then Force Whirlwind and finally Force Wave — you’ve just won every fight, ever.
”Statement: HK-47 is ready to serve, master.”
We get a motley crew of companions who each have their own perspective on the galaxy, not to mention the wider conflict between the Republic and Sith Empire. Romance is in the air if you pursue it and there are special missions you can do to find out more about them and their backstory. Of course they also help you in battle and can be specialised – much like in other RPGs.
The big draw for KOTOR is the choice between following the Light or the Dark path of the force and BioWare sprinkle in plenty of opportunity for you to be a goody-two-shoes Jedi, an absolute heartless evil Sith or even tread the muddy grey path. Knights of the Old Republic is also notorious for having ‘that moment’ in its story, which we will not spoil because frankly it robs you of getting the full sledgehammer effect of when it happens.
By the end of your long, long journey in KOTOR you get to feel every bit the heroic, self-sacrificing Jedi who just struck down a great threat to the Republic, or stand as the impending conqueror about to usher in an age of order forged through empire as Dark Lord of the Sith. Honestly you’ll be achieving both because either way it’s an amazing RPG set in the Star Wars universe.
Where to get Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic today?
You can easily get hold of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic these days and even find it bundled up with its sequel created by Obsidian Entertainment, or part of an even larger collection of Star Wars classics. The easiest place for PC users to get it is undoubtedly on Steam for cheap.
Game Spotlight - Pride Run
Dance with pride
(IV Productions, Hard Ton, Steam Factory- PC)
Pride Run combines the mechanics of the RTS genre with rhythm action elements in order to create an experience quite unlike any other. Celebrating all things LGBTQ+, Pride Run transports players around the world encouraging them to dance along the streets of sixteen cities, picking up more support along the way. Spreading the love and promoting inclusiveness is at the heart of the developer’s intent, and there’s plenty of love to go around.
Featuring two modes, players will have the option to choose either ‘Vanilla’ or ‘Play Hard’. Vanilla focuses primarily on the rhythm sections, challenging players to keep up with the rhythm of the soundtrack as they perform sequences of dance movements using WASD and arrow keys. After achieving a good score and successfully making their way through the city, they’ll have a 1v1 with a boss. To give you an idea of what to expect with these bosses, the first one is Donald Trump, making for an interesting interaction. Boss encounters continue to build on the dance sequences players have learnt so far, however this time there’s more of an element of choice. The boss battle is turn-based so when it’s your turn, you’ll be able to choose a dance sequence from a list and will have to perform the inputs perfectly in order to execute the routine. Longer routines will add more to the rainbow-coloured bar at the top of the screen as you defeat the boss. Succeeding will enable you to move onto the next
city and continue your journey across the globe.
Vanilla mode is definitely the mode you’ll want to start with, particularly if you’re here for the rhythm portion of the game. Inputs range from single key presses to holding keys down in order to complete the sequence. Overall, this isn’t too difficult, although it did feel as though there was a slight delay between us pressing a key and the input registering in the game. That said, once you adjust to the delay, you should be able to work your way through the sequences without too many issues.
Choose between two very different game modes
The Play Hard mode makes for quite a different experience, utilising RTS mechanics to give players more control of how the group operates as you make your way through the cities. Picking a leader and moving portions of the group to the edges of the road will help you to encourage others to join in on the fun as you walk. You’ll have a few abilities to choose from so be sure to pick wisely. There are three levels of difficulty and both modes can be played either independently or co-op. We found Play Hard mode significantly trickier to get into as there is a lot more to consider and while the tutorial walks you through everything, all the mechanics can feel a bit overwhelming at first.
The game features mature content which the developer has described as follows: “Pride Run is a celebration of Pride events and the LGBTQ community in general. The game is presented in a satirical way which includes the visualisation of adult toys. In addition, there is the occasional use of adult words plus the occasional portrayal of topless females. As mentioned, all adult themes are portrayed in a satirical way and not used in any meaningful context. There are no sexual acts of violence in this game.”
Despite having released back in September, we’re already seeing updates for Pride Run. This week, the developer announced that new levels are on the way, as Pride Run heads to South America. The first new level, scheduled to release at the end of the month, will be Sao Paolo. Buenos Aires will also be available at the end of December.
Pride Run is already available on Steam for £15.49/$19.99/€16.79.