Tag Archives: Knights of the Old Republic

The Kaleidoscope of the Noughties – OWW! – Games #1

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As video games become more sophisticated, more complex and for lack of a better term, more artistically minded in their conception, production and execution, you wonder how detrimental the moniker of “video game” is for a medium with its own unique set of possibilities. “Video” remains indicative of a previous age – somewhat rubbish, a bit eccentric and certainly not something to be taken seriously – and “game” reinforces the idea that the video game is simply a way to waste away time, therapeutic all the same, but serving no great purpose other than that. Some day I am sure the video game moniker will fade away, with our society appropriating a more suitable term for a medium whose potential is only just being considered with any seriousness. Perhaps the Noughties – Ergck! – will eventually be defined as a key decade in which video games really began to explore this potential, or at least mainstream audiences and more importantly multi-national conglomerates began to recognise it. But then again, concerning how gaming has developed over the last few decades, in would be hard to discard any development cycle as worthless.

STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC (BIOWARE, 2003 for PC/XBOX)

Knights of the Old Republic, to me, was one of these transitory games where, even if it was not truly innovative, it had the polish and the instant appeal on top of an already well-crafted and satisfying core game, to absolutely enthral me. A large part of this comes down to the Star Wars license, this must be said, wielding all the hallmarks of the series – but the key for this is the quality of the story and the writing. If the Star Wars prequels proved anything, it was that the series is more than a number of repeated motifs, sounds, memorable dialogue and music. KOTOR, as it has since been known, arrived for me one Christmas and kept me busy for weeks, months even, suffering itself to be replayed by my younger self again and again, under an increasingly avid addiction to the flexibility available with the game.

Describing the plot again elicits nostalgic thoughts: 4000 years before the rise of the Galactic Empire, a Republic cruiser harbouring a powerful yet naive Jedi comes under attack above the planet Taris; you, an insignificant Republic soldier, are tasked with making sure the Jedi escapes the Sith. What follows is a terrifically enjoyable adventure that evokes all the fun and banter of the original Star Wars films as you begin to unravel the mysteries of the Galaxy, discovering the source of the Sith’s new found power. It’s an engaging story, populated with many lively and intriguing characters and involving numerous strange and wonderful worlds. The sheen and freshness may have diminished under repeated playthroughs, but its significance in many peoples gaming memories is inarguable and the popularity of its protagonist remains undwindling.

If there’s another thing that KOTOR did what other games didn’t do for me, it was to establish the name of a developer in my mind. Bioware, who have since flexed their muscles far and wide in the industry, would have already been familiar to veterans of RPGs such as Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights, but for me this was the first time we met. Developing into a cerebral gamer as I have, I’ve been interested in whatever they have gone on to do – although circumstance has ruled the much celebrated Mass Effect out of my reach for now. But I’ve played Jade Empire (great, despite its somewhat unsatisfactory length) and I have my eyes on Dragon Age: Origins, and certainly optimistic towards Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Star Wars Sequel?

According the MarketSaw blog, there may be the possibility that the Galaxy Far, Far Away that we’ve all come to greet with apathy may be returning to cinemas.  A strong source suggests that the success (or quality) of Star Trek’s reinvention has whet George’s appetite for more Star Wars movies.  This time however, we’ll be treated to a trilogy in 3D – this all depends however on the success of James Cameron’s Avatar, which seems to be drawing on Star Wars’ legacy of infantilising the public’s perception of science fiction.

Noah Berger/AP

Good news for what would otherwise be a heinous and vile suggestion would be that Lucas is willing – or planning – to relinquish his autocratic control on the reins of the franchise.  With little production input, and no director’s chair, the iconic franchise could be in the hands of someone with a fresh angle and perspective, and someone who can write snappy dialogue.  The other side of this coin is that Lucas may only be willing to let his old chums from film school take a crack at it.  And while Spielberg taking a shot would probably lead to predictable but worthy results, the idea of the fading powers of Francis Ford Coppola controlling Star Wars is a bit of a stomach churner.

Lucas before has stated that his initial intention was for three trilogies chronologing the fall of the Empire.  This is probably a bad idea; the franchise is almost bursting from the seams with the amount of film, TV shows, comics and crap books documenting the Galactic Civil War already, with little room for a whole trilogy.  Only the pairing of the planned live-action TV show (that’s presumably still going ahead) with the word “Battlestar Galactica” piques any interest at all, for its about time Star Wars matured a little and grew a philosophical limb – and by that I mean returning to more than just Zeitgeist Jedi bollocks.

So what other period in the Star Wars timeline could possibly give enough fruit to be worthy of a 3D trilogy?  The future, envisioned with increasingly ludicrous novels, ranging in quality from shockingly bad to forgettably readable, is problematic. There will undoubtedly be question concerning the fate of Luke, Han and Leia that cinema goers will want to know, and the amount of times we see the resurgence of the Empire, the resurgence of the Sith, the resurgence of another Empire, the invasion of Star Trek villains the Vong is endemic of Star Wars playing by the same old tricks again.

The past of Star Wars – way before the fetid prequels – has been plundered before to reasonable success.  The Knights of the Old Republic era, from the first comics documenting the ancient Jedi to Bioware’s fantastic roleplaying games (including the in-development MMO, The Old Republic), are set far enough before the events of the Galactic Civil War to overcome any notion of knowing what’s going to happen before the characters do – a large problem of the prequels.

The best of these additions to the franchise borrow the fun, humour and types from the original trilogy and plant them in a mythically framed universe slightly different from the one that burst onto the screens in 1977.  But because there has been a great deal of success with the Knights of the Old Republic era – and thus many different iterations of it – one wonders whether there is enough room for more galaxy spanning wars or confrontations between robed monks at all.

Why not simply a story about a Smuggler? Everybody loves a Smuggler.