In 2003, the fever for Star Wars it was at one of its highest points. The prequel trilogy had just released its second installment, Attack of the Clones and the previous decade had seen the first big boom of the Expanded Universe (now called Star Wars Legends). In this context, a relatively new studio called BioWare, which had gained some popularity after working on the first 2 titles of Baldur’s Gate, He launched Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic, a role-playing title that took place 4,000 years before the original trilogy of Star Wars. The game became an almost instantaneous classic and was the first approach that many had with the expanded universe of Star Wars. With its recent relaunch for Nintendo Switch and a remake coming out, it’s worth talking about what made a video game so important that is considered the best in that galaxy far, far away.
BioWare, under the influence of midichlorians
The production of Knights of The Old Republic began in 1999, the same year as the launch of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. According to BioWare co-founder Ray Muzyka, LucasArts gave them 2 options for the project: make a game about Star Wars: Episodio II or a title that occurred 4 millennia before the rise of the Empire, a period that had hardly been explored. As they preferred to have creative freedom, BioWare opted for the second option, a choice that would have epic dimensions.
The studio began to work with one goal in mind: to create content similar to that of the films but with elements that stood out as definitive precursors. At the time, the only material that existed about the Old Republic was a comic book series published between 1993 and 1998 called Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi, which spoke about the ancient and original Sith Empire, 3 of its most powerful warriors and their fight against the Jedi. The development team took advantage of those events, characters and places as a background to build their own world and propose something that, eventually, would significantly influence the game. Expanded Universe from Star Wars.
After posing the story, characters, settings, and working on a new graphics engine to achieve the cinematic experience they were looking for, BioWare finally brought life to Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic. The game took advantage of many of the classic RPG rules, but also expanded them, and transported players to a living world to make them feel that they were important in it, that they could change and influence it through their decisions.
Additionally, the game introduced elements to the universe of Star Wars that for years were included in the canon and that set the imaginations of creators and fans alike alike. Notable among them are the Rakata Empire, the monumental Star Forge, the Mandalorian Wars, the main antagonist, Darth Malak, and of course the iconic and tragic Darth Revan. The world of videogames and the saga of Star Wars they were before a masterpiece.
The prodigy knight
Knights of The Old Republic chronicles the events after the Mandalorian Wars, a conflict between the Galactic Republic and the warrior culture of the Mandalorians. At the beginning of the conflict, 2 important Jedi left to fight in favor of the Republic, but at the end of the confrontation they returned converted to the dark side, adopting the Sith names of Darth Revan and Darth Malak.
After establishing themselves as teacher and disciple respectively, they set out on a search for the Star Forge, a space station designed to make droids and battleships. His goal was to create an army capable of defeating the Republic and establishing a new Sith Empire, however Darth Malak eventually betrayed Darth Revan during a fight. As a result, Revan lost his memory and was again adopted by the Jedi as a soldier for their cause.
The game starts shortly after this, in orbit of a planet located in the Outer Rim territories. The player takes on the role of a Republic soldier who awakens when his space cruiser, the Endar Spire, is attacked by the forces of Darth Malak. During the confrontation, the player meets Bastila Shan, a Jedi who leads an effort to stop the Sith Lord’s plans.
Thus begins a journey through the galaxy, from the grasslands of Dantooine, through the thick forests of Kashyyyk to the futuristic metropolis of Taris, all in the company of endearing characters: Carth Onasi, the veteran pilot of the Republic and the soldier Trask. Ulgo; Twi’lek teen Mission Vao and her Wookiee companion Zaalbar; Jedi Jolee Bindo and Juhani; the utility droid T3-M4, the assassin droid HK-47, and the mercenary Canderous Ordo.
In addition, there was the character that the player controlled, an avatar that at first seemed very simple but that, in reality, was a figure that transformed the sense of history, that made it transcend and transferred it from being a simple journey of the hero to a fight against identity and destiny. As the plot progressed, the user had to bear the weight of the memories and face a relevant truth: the player was Darth Revan.
Do it, or do not, but do not try
The revelation of the player as Darth Revan was one of the elements that gave the most meaning to the game’s decision system. The development of the conversations and the answers that were chosen determined if the player aligned himself towards the dark or light side of the force, which affected the appearance of the main character and the outcome of the game; In addition, decisions also influenced some characters joining the player’s cause.
In its foundations, Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic worked like many other RPGs and was based on Star Wars Roleplaying Game, a role-playing book published by Wizards of The Coast. There were classes for the character, special and secondary abilities, and force powers that functioned as substitutes for magic or spells from other games. The combat looked like it was in real time but, at its core, it was a turn-based system where you could pause time to choose objectives and assign orders.
One of the things that stood out the most about the gameplay was the freedom it gave the player to complete objectives. Although the game always covered the same key events, namely searching all the star maps, finding the Star Forge, and defeating Darth Malak, there were a number of ways to achieve these goals. Many of the quests had different solutions and the player could solve them in one way or another by his own means. In addition, conversations with NPCs, as well as interaction with them, could greatly influence how the game progressed and what results were obtained.
As for the audio, unlike what happened in many developments, LucasArts was in charge of working on both the sound effects and the music of the game. Something peculiar and that contributed a lot to the suspension of disbelief was that not all the characters spoke in basic galactic (or English for practical purposes), but that many spoke in Huttese, an original language of the saga that many non-human characters speak. the best known being probably Jabba the Hutt. This added a lot to the feeling of traveling through alien worlds, learning about new settings and exploring living settings like never before in another game of Star Wars.
The tragedy of the knight
Knights of the Old Republic it proposed things that other games had not explored. Its story, hand in hand with its narrative interaction mechanics and its decision system, made up one of the most unique and special experiences that had been seen up to that moment, both in the series of Star Wars like in video games.
In the midst of the birth of the current generation of consoles, Knights of The Old Republic is still relevant. It remembers a BioWare that took on challenges, that met them and exceeded any expectations, a time far removed from the dark times with EA and disappointments like Mass Effect Andromeda O Anthem. With Knights of The Old Republic the studio not only delivered an excellent game but influenced the entire Expanded Universe from Star Wars, laid the foundations to expand it and gave way to the emergence of an endless number of works. Even if the Expanded Universe No longer canon, an entire generation of fans remains passionate about Darth Revan’s journey, his culmination as a prodigy knight, and his tragedy.
Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic it will echo for a long time. It is one of the most influential western RPGs and a gem in the universe of Star Wars. Only time will tell what the future holds for this series. The next remake faces the difficult challenge of transferring to the present what Knights of The Old Republic meant at the time. For now it remains to cling to hope, similar to the one that a certain Darthomyrian was looking for in the entrails of a holocron, to sit before the brightness, in our case, of a screen or monitor and return to those old times; return to that galaxy far, far away to face the ghosts of our past.
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La importancia de Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic | LevelUp