While Jedi Knight 2 Jedi Academy saw you learning the ways of the force in a first person shooter slash fest, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) sees you take a more thoughtful approach to saving the galaxy.
Based on a storyline set some 4000 years before the movies the usual Star Wars storyline still perplexes the hero of the story - Sith versus Jedi, politics versus law and order the universe in which this game is set is huge, allowing you to shape the gameplay around you and your approach to it.
With Inventory, character creation and storyline control, this game sits firmly in the RPG genre and Bioware - the games developers - has created a solution that allows hardcore RPG fans to reveal in the stats while the uninitiated will still be able to access the main crux of the game ahead.
Exploration of the levels is done via simply walking around and questioning anyone and everyone to try and gleam as much information as possible is the defacto. The storyline is such that you can find yourself going completely off at a tangent but specific criss-crossing events are still be sewn into the storyline when needed to progress further.
Battles and the resulting factors happen real time although are automatically played out unless you intervene with strategic commands such as choosing to go in with blasters rather than melee weapons.
RPG fans will warm to the greater control of storyline and Knights of the Old Republic allows you to choose whether or not you turn to the dark side. Come across a beggar for example, give him money to pay off his debts and you earn plenty of light side points for your charity. Steal his money and then his life and you'll start to turn the other way.
As with all great RPGs you are not alone in your quest and through the levels you are joined by fellow comrades. Of course everyone has specific skills that come in handy in certain areas and at the beginning you yourself can chose to be an explorer, solider and stealth man about town. All three have different skills and all three will help you shape the game and its reactions further.
With plenty of shops around the levels, this game expects you to buy and sell your way around. Bad guys are normally always littered with credits and picking up their guns and weapons is always a good move so you can sell them later on. The game's inventory hub is very easy to control and as you would expect, you can load up your companions if you are overloaded.
For the more RPG-conscious fans, skills can be developed along the way and this can be something that is done manually or automatically by the computer. Concentrate on using melee weapons and your fighting skill level will increase, ask the right questions and likewise your intelligence will go up and so on.
Graphics take on the usual LucasArts sheen and are more akin to the FPS, something which may confuse some who have seen the screenshots. With plenty of cut scenes the game does take on a cinematic feel, although for the impatient that can be slightly annoying.
With its huge universe to draw from, there is plenty to keep the average fan happy. The storyline is saccharine enough to stick and the overall feel of the game is very good although you will need plenty of patience. If you are hoping this will be the latest action fest that it looks like, then you will be disappointed. However if you've done your homework and actually looking forward to a storyline that will slowly draw you in this is bang on the money. With few RPGs of this calibre on the Xbox it's nice to finally see a game of this nature ticking all the boxes.
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