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bluexy avatar 3:24 PM on 09.21.2009  (server time)
The Forgotten: Knights of the Old Republic

An instant message pops up from a close friend, “hey rory. looking at vidcards and wanted to know your brand name preference. ati vs nvidia?”

It's not the question that surprises me, but my reply.

“[Persuade] Nvidia has always been reliable for me, and there's some amazing deals showing up for cards in the 200 series. What's your price range?”

Hey wait a second, did I really just write that first bit? Either my skill in “Persuade” combined with my charisma modifier has afforded me new conversation options with this friend, or I've been playing too much Knights of the Old Republic.

In his next message there is no [Success] or [Failure] notation, and he either ignores or never notices my odd addition. Perhaps he's never played the classic Bioware game, or perhaps he's merely forgotten. I would remind him, but Bastila is waiting for me inside the Jedi Enclave.

Certainly Knights of the Old Republic hasn't faded into the past like so many '90s-or-earlier games, but there are different ways to be forgotten. Diminished by the lower quality Knights of the Old Republic 2; overshadowed by the more popular Mass Effect; and retooled into the upcoming high-profile MMO The Old Republic, Knights has gently fallen into the esteemed group of, “Bioware's Classics.” Not so bad of a resting place, but I'm not willing to let it go quietly into the the night just yet, and neither should you.

One of the progenitors of the now overly used moral choice system, Knights turned your everyday conversations into an inner battle between the light and dark sides of The Force. A system perfectly fitted for the setting of Star Wars, where every character is either good, evil, or still trying to decide where they belong.

Perhaps the inherent flaw in many modern moral choice systems is the distinction between good and evil. Yes, good certainly saves lives where evil would kill or destroy, but is there any meaning or background to either side? In Knights, and Star Wars beyond, you've got a history of Jedi protecting justice and peace, and the Sith opposing that, constantly searching for power and the means to control. Each side has meaning beyond the simple choices you've made in your conversations, and the people you've saved or killed. It's something Mass Effect or Prototype or any of the others haven't fully grasped yet, and something Knights thrives on.

The conversations you'll have throughout Knights aren't solely a means of measuring your morality though. Every character you encounter can reveal details about your surroundings, other characters, and important events, but only if you ask them the right questions. The rich background of every world you travel to can keep you engrossed for hours without even encountering combat. The stories your party members will tell are much deeper than the casual NPCs, though they'll require you prod them for information as you proceed through the main storyline. Moments such as the Twi'lek party member berating our Wookie friend for the disgusting smell of his breath will fill those empty times running around town.

It all comes together for an engaging, deep story line, which Bioware takes much pride in. CEO of Bioware Ray Muzyka states there are “key pillars” to every role-playing game. The fact that story is one of those pillars, and that Bioware will afford as much attention to plot and conflict as to combat is distinct among games. It's a sign of maturity and respect for the audience that you won't find often, despite it's selling power.

So when you pick up Dragon Age: Origins this fall, or Mass Effect 2 next spring. When you're reading up on any new information for Star Wars: The Old Republic, make sure to remember the game that came before. Pour one out for Knights of the Old Republic, which doesn't get mentioned in “Greatest game ever!” lists, but considering all these gems that have been made in Knight's vein, it should be. Hell, in fact:

[Persuade] Go buy Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic off of Steam RIGHT NOW for only $9.99. You really should own it.

[Lie] Plus it will make your sex life ten times better.



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