Have You Played… Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic?


Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

When people ask me about the first game I ever played, I tell them it was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. That’s not accurate, but it was the first one I played that made me realise the unique power games had to transport me to other worlds, and into the shoes of another person.

Worryingly, that person was probably the most evil character I’ve ever been: KotOR lets you get up to some messed up stuff. Early on you meet a Twi’lek teenager and her closest friend, a Wookie she affectionately calls Big Z. When you save his life, Big Z swears a “lifedebt” to you – from then on, he’ll do whatever you ask. At a certain point, if you follow a certain path, your companions begin to turn on you: but not Big Z. Big Z won’t shirk his duty. It tears him apart, but if you tell him to murder his best friend then he feels he has no choice but to obey.

It’s ok, I’m not the only bastard.

Still, if you managed to resist calling your character Darth Revan on your second playthrough, you’re a better person than me.


  1. Turkey says:

    I remember going down both paths, intentionally picking the most good and the most evil options. I can’t remember anything from the good playthrough, though.

    • Kroem says:

      I’ve never understood doing ‘good’ or ‘bad’ playthroughs, the attraction of these sort of games is making choices so why adopt a style of play that effectively removes all the decision making?

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        Because those are effectively the only roles you can choose to play, and indeed it’s encouraged by the game mechanics to choose all of one or the other.

      • Chaoslord AJ says:

        In most games you get special rewards for being extremist, unlocking quests, wearing evil or good items etc.
        What good is neutral? Being friend to Jaheira?

        • Horg says:

          Well in the BG series it allowed you to have a mixed alignment party without anyone rage quitting (assuming no other rivalries such as Edwin vs Minsc). No one was really that upset by a fanatical neutralist.

      • Turkey says:

        Oh, I’m not saying it was a fulfilling way of playing the game. I was bored half to death by the end of my second play through.

        Worthwhile pc games in the 00s were few and far between, and I just wanted to get the most out of the ones they bothered to port from consoles.

        • Kroem says:

          Maybe everyone was busy playing PS2 in the noughties!

          Whats even more silly is that the later ME games allowed you to completely circumvent a decision if you had enough goodie or baddie points!

          I liked it in Dragon Age that there was no arbitrary good or bad meter attached to decisions, you actually had to consider the merits of both cases.

      • PancakeWizard says:

        Because it’s two games for the price of one. Simple.

  2. juan_h says:

    I love this game. If The Fighter did not exist–and thank goodness it does–Knights of the Old Republic would be my favorite Star Wars game. The dialog can be a bit rough and the game’s evil options are mostly petty and silly, but this is a game that gets Star Wars in a way that most games–its own sequel foremost among them–don’t.

  3. Slazer says:

    Obligatory discussion starter about the 2nd one being better

    Because it is, starting with Kreia as one of the best written villains in history

    • HiroTheProtagonist says:

      I’m also a fan of how they were willing to point out that the Jedi aren’t unilaterally good just because the Sith exist. Changing the paradigm from “Jedi = Good, Sith = Bad” to “Jedi = Order, Sith = Passion” was one of the few good things done for Star Wars during the Prequel era.

      It’s a damn shame we’ll never get a proper sequel, but at the very least there’s that fan remake in Unreal on the horizon.

    • Arathorn says:

      KOTOR 2 left me cold to be honest. I played it once but I can’t remember much of it.

      I have a feeling a lot of people judge KOTOR 2 on what it could have been, if only Obsidian had been given more time. But they didn’t have that time and the end result just wasn’t that good. The cut content mod clearly shows how unfinished all the missing pieces were. You can easily identify the restored bits.

      • Chaoslord AJ says:

        Same feeling here. Can’t remember really anything about it. Some cutscenes about badass looking villains who quickly folded in persona. Fetch quests with backtracking. There was the killer robot and some creepy grandma.
        Played with “ending restored patch” but the ending was still bad so I wonder about the unrestored ending.

      • woodsey says:

        The cut content certainly hurts KotOR 2, but I think people (myself included) love it anyway because the fundamental idea – to deconstruct Star Wars (and RPGs in general) – remains fully intact. I’ll happily go out on a limb and say that Kreia is the greatest RPG companion ever.

        Plus, the whole thing give me the willies. Star Wars has never been so brilliantly creepy.

    • mashkeyboardgetusername says:

      I just found her annoying. Whatever I did (whether good or evil) she moaned at me, so eventually I just started ignoring her advice. Maybe that was the point/what I was supposed to do, but it doesn’t change the fact that her constant moaning was just irritating.

      I’m also still not sure what her motivation was other than generalised bitterness. I have heard it said her philosophy really comes out with multiple playthroughs, but can’t help feeling that if your game is 30-odd hours long you shouldn’t write it in such a way that you need multiple playthroughs to “get” it.

      • Horg says:

        Kreia’s positive dialogue responses were not based on alignment, she wants you to take actions that are strategically sound, promote personal strength and self reliance, in yourself and others. Sometimes that means being helpful to gain a useful ally, sometimes that means denying help as it weakens both yourself and the recipient. In the end, if you follow her preferred path, it tends more dark side, but the extremes of the charity of the Jedi and the ultra-violence of the Sith don’t impress her.

        As for her motivations, she was primarily motivated by the need to protect the galaxy from the looming threat of the return of the true Sith. She identifies the Jedi as too weak, and any current Dark Side inhabitants likely to become subservient to the old empire, so seeks to train up individuals who can focus on personal strength, independent of the teaching of Sith and Jedi. Revan was her first student, and was the perfect embodiment of her plan as he mobilised an armada to conquer and replace the weak republic, but Malak’s betrayal and the Jedi kidnapping / mind wipe threw him down a different path and out of Kreia’s influence.

        Her second attempt at a true Sith counter lead her to found Trayus academy on Malachor V, a place so dense with death that it had become a force void. Her plan was to create a caste of force users who could feed off the strength of their opponents, such as the Sith assassins that pursue the exile, with Sion and Nihilus being her two strongest students. She wanted to turn them against the true Sith to match them with their own strength, but was undone by Nihilus who was able to sap her own power and cast her out. Nihilus became a slave to his own hunger and abandoned Kreia to feed on the galaxy, Sion had grown so strong that he could effectively cheat death, but needed all his willpower to sustain his life and had degraded into an embodiment of violence. Kreia was drained of her power and left for dead.

        After Trayus academy failed, she wanders the galaxy until she hears rumors of the Exile who abandoned the force, and with a little help from T3M4 (who may be the only individual apart from Kreia who knows the full story) she manages to find the Exile before any of the other factions. As the game picks up from Peragus, a force bond is generated between Kreia and the Exile which enables them to both regain their old strength. Kreia trains up the Exile in the same manner she trained Revan, with her initial goal to use the Exile to flush out the last Jedi masters hiding from Nihilus and wipe out the Jedi order, while simultaneously solving the pressing galactic crises so society can recover from Malak’s destruction.

        It’s after the final confrontation with the Jedi council that Kreia’s plans change again. As the council admit to conspiring against the Exile, seeing the death of the force in this individual, Kreia sees a chance to end the tyranny of the force upon the galaxy. As she learns that the exile willingly severed from the force and survived, she realises that all life could eventually be cut off, which would break the power of the true Sith and Jedi order forever. The final confrontation with Kreia is her attempt to either break the Exile to her will to be used as a weapon against the force, or in defeat her proof that the Exile has grown so strong that she has created the independent, strong willed and free character that she initially sought with Revan, who could protect the galaxy form the looming threat.

        Overall I found her to be a superbly well written character, consistent and thoughtful at all times, most importantly breaking the main trope of the binary morality of Star Wars. She (and the game overall) were left down by some rough transitions in story telling and some missing dialogue, particularly in the last quarter of the game, as a result of the rushed production.

        • satan says:

          I thought Jolee Bindo nailed the grumpy old person character, because he’d complain all the time about everyone and everything but then disarm you by saying something along the lines that he was old dammit, he gets to complain.

          Kreia just wore me down though, because she never seemed to let up.

          • Horg says:

            That was intentional, Kreia was never supposed to be a popular character by design. One of her more memorable quotes was: ”I know many things, and I know what I am not – I am no leader. I speak with a voice that will never move others, I speak with a passion that goes unheard.” She is a stubborn old crone who is determined to save the galaxy by any means necessary, and has the self awareness to know that she cannot be the hero of her own story. It’s a little tragic that she has to become the villain to complete the journey of her protegee, for the greater good.

        • juan_h says:

          Very, very little of this is evident from the game.

          • Horg says:

            Most of it is in the game. The dialog / cinematic revealing Kreia being the head of Trayus academy on Malachor V was hidden behind an influence check though, which was probably a mistake. It was a good sequence, as the cinematic revealed her past to the player, but her narration (the conversation with the Exile) was vague enough to tell the overall story but keep the specifics of her role training the Sith hidden. The part about her changing plans to use the Exile to sever all life from the force requires the restored content mod, as a lot of the final dialogue never made the original release.

          • NathanH says:

            It is a long time since I played KOTOR2, but I remember practically nothing of those details, if I ever knew them at all. And I enjoyed the game and particularly the story/characters, so it wasn’t like I wasn’t paying attention. I do remember not having much idea what was going on for the second half of the game.

      • NathanH says:

        Kreia is one of those characters where half her dialogues need to give you the option to say “Yeah, but I’m after Light Side points to unlock a dialogue option that’ll get me a sidequest. Also, this choice started a combat that gave me XP and I’ve got a quicksave if things go wrong. So go away”.

        Attention, RPG makers: stop including major characters whose main personality trait is to point out why your game mechanics make little narrative sense.

    • juan_h says:

      Counterpoint: No it isn’t and Kreia is awful.

      It’s funny. I once heard Chris Avellone talk about how he learned to “make the player the center of the story” when he was a teenager running tabletop RPGs. But Knights of the Old Republic 2 isn’t about the player at all. It’s all about Kreia. All the cutscenes are about her. People who hate her–people who are trying to kill her–obey her for no discernible reason. Worst of all, she always gets the last word in every conversation. The player can try to get away from her by leaving her on the ship, but it won’t work because she’ll intrude on his conversations telepathically. Her evil scheme is poorly explained and borderline nonsensical. I will allow, though, that she has a really cool voice.

      • PancakeWizard says:

        “It’s funny. I once heard Chris Avellone talk about how he learned to “make the player the center of the story” when he was a teenager running tabletop RPGs. But Knights of the Old Republic 2 isn’t about the player at all. It’s all about Kreia”

        You’re talking about two entirely different things there. Tabletop RPGs have more then one player usually (certainly the ones Chris was talking about). They are party games. So he’s talking about players, plural.

        KOTOR is a CRPG where one player is controlling many characters (in the same tried and true method since Baldur’s Gate), one of which they get to create/role-play themselves.

        You should find Kreia interesting because you’re getting massive plot development about one of your party, not pissed off because the game isn’t making your customised character the centre of attention.

    • E_FD says:

      I’m not sure KOTOR2 is even coherent if you aren’t already aware that it’s basically unfinished (even with the fan patches), have a cursory idea of what the unfinished content was supposed to be like, and are familiar enough with Planescape Torment to have noticed that the central plot and characters are a thinly-disguised reimagining of it.

      Which doesn’t mean it isn’t absolutely fascinating, because it totally is. The snippets that manage to be coherent offer a completely idiosyncratic take on the Star Wars universe that I’d love to see more of.

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      zapatapon says:

      Things I remember being really liking about KOTOR2:
      * the first chapter on Peragus — great creepy atmosphere of mystery and of a looming, incomprehensible threat
      * the battle at Malachor V as a distant vanishing point for the whole story — where all the plot arcs start and end. The game does a good job in suggesting destruction on a scale beyond human comprehension, a Star Wars equivalent of Hiroshima, which you’re regularly reminded of all along.
      * yeah OK, Kreia

    • RabbitIslandHermit says:

      It really annoyed me that you couldn’t side with Kreia to be honest, a la Jade Empire.

  4. Risingson says:

    It is still the best Bioware game when they moved to pure 3D, because they understood the world and they took care of the characters during all the game. It has that sweet spot of being streamlined and leaving some customization, and they still did not have the many mistakes committed in the Mass Effect games. Nah, I love it. It was also the best gift a Star Wars fan could have, moreover a Star Wars fan that loved the Star Wars previous references (classic adventure, western, war movies, Kurosawa) because all of that is in this game too. And gamewise it’s like a jrpg without half of the reiteration.

  5. Nauallis says:

    I love this game – I just wish that it performed better on modern systems. I’d happily buy a remastered version on PC or console if one was produced.

  6. poliovaccine says:

    Still never have, actually, even though I’ve played some KOTOR 2 for some reason. Well, I know the reason: I was still obsessed with Fallout New Vegas, but was running out of content to see and wanted to savor the rest, so I tried to leave it awhile, yet still wanted to play an open world RPG by Obsidian – which narrowed the pool a bit. KOTOR 2 was the obvious choice there.

    Btw, I still think “Eleanor Kimgordon” is the greatest possible name I could have picked for a female Jedi, haha. I’m proud of that one.

  7. geldonyetich says:

    Heck yeah I have, I beat KOTOR two or three times across two platforms. It was an excellent d20 adaptation of the Star Wars mythos, had a great (if a bit polarized) moral choice system, and basically revitalized the hope for the IP in gaming that was largely soured by Star Wars Galaxies.

    KOTOR 2 was larger, but wasn’t quite as good, I found, the flow wasn’t as nice. (Although it did have HK-47, which is an awesome character, though not somebody I’d want to meet in a dark alley.) It was probably due to lack of polish. While community mods have restored a lot of cut content, I think what KOTOR 2 ultimately needed was less content presented with a better sense of flow to the story.

    If you’re a KOTOR fan, you really need to play Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s basically KOTOR 3. Alas, the MMORPG grind got between me and even trying to “complete” the main campaign on that one. I’d love a version of that which cut the grind and just gave us the story, albeit it would work out to one story for each class.

  8. SirSnake says:

    The original came on 4 CDs!

    Great game.

    It is one of a very select number of games that I played, finished, and immediately started again to re-play it as a different character.

    Sadly I haven’t played a game like that in years.

  9. Jalan says:

    The one thing I hated about it was the racing bits. I don’t know what it was precisely, but it never really felt satisfying to do them.

  10. E_FD says:

    My favorite Bioware game, and I’d argue probably their best, though some of that might just be that their troupes felt newer and fresher in this one.

    I do think, even more than the Baldur’s Gates, this is where the Bioware RPG formula really gelled together into the template they’ve been using ever since: enough customization to have fun tinkering with your characters without feeling overwhelmed or needing to master the system to enjoy the game; a mostly linear, straightforward plot with just enough window dressing of branching choices to give you the feeling that you’re having an impact on the story, and with a heavy emphasis on party members’ personal story arcs.

    I’ve always been a bit disappointed that later Bioware games feel like they’re redecorating KOTOR’s foundation rather than building upon it, but that doesn’t diminish the fun of the original.

  11. vahnn says:

    I’ve never finished either kotor, but I recently got this in my phone to play while traveling and I’m already farther than I’ve ever been. Finally!

  12. Laurentius says:

    It is such a pale of a game in comparison to KOTOR2. I played it once and never wanted to do it again. It’s all right but KOTOR2 is a classic. And Kreia is awsome, maybe the best NPC in cRPG ever written. And that’s the fact and all internet commenters can’t change that. Cry some moar haters.

  13. Carra says:

    One of my all time favorites. This game got me into:

    – Star Wars. After this game I watched all the movies… a few times. And I enjoyed later Star Wars games like Republic Commando.
    – Bioware. I bounced of Baldur’s Gate but I adored this game. I played every Bioware game that came out since. Yeah, including Andromeda.
    – Rpg’s. This was my first RPG. And it became one of my favourite genres, played quite a few more since then.

  14. seroto9 says:

    I’m considering getting the Android version; not played the original. Can anyone recommend it? Yes, and I know RPS isn’t really the right place to ask about mobile versions (sorry).

    • Tycow says:

      Fully recommend the Android port – they did a good job of getting it across, and the controls work quite well. The only slight annoyance is there isn’t a button that lets you flourish your weapon (twirl lightsabre/sword, spin blaster).

      Minor, but I loved doing it as I ran into battle! :D

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      3001 says:

      I recently played through it twice (once light, once dark) on iOS. It worked really well, as the combat can be paused, orders issued and then unpaused. The only bit that really grates is that the 3 racing subgames are much harder on a touchscreen.

  15. pookie101 says:

    ” it was the first one I played that made me realise the unique power games had to transport me to other worlds”

    For me that answer would be another Star Wars game.. I still remember to this day walking into the local bowling alley/arcade and walking by a game and hearing Obi Wan speak.. It was arcade Star Wars and it was the game that made me a gamer

  16. NathanH says:

    I played this for the first time only a couple of years ago and didn’t like it very much. I don’t think the ruleset works particularly well, and the interface is the most troublesome to control of any Bioware party RPG. The story and characters are OK, but nothing more.

  17. Megatron says:

    I loved this the first time I played it. Was really satisfying in the way few games ever manage.

    Playing it recently, however, I got really frustrated by the UI and bored by the mechanics of the game. It felt like there was a disconnect between me and my characters, and the dialogue in the early stages is clunky as heck. That’s kind of what stopped my playthrough of KOTOR 2 with all the addons/restored bits. I just got really bored of it, and Kreia.

  18. Evan_ says:

    My second playtrough character was called ‘Dark Raven’. I enjoyed scolding various NPCs. “Why are you calling me Darth Revan? I’m Dark Raven you moron!”

    Also.. Darth Traya is still my favorite videogame villain of ever.

  19. MisterFurious says:

    I hated it. I thought it was just a complete Star Wars reskin of Neverwinter Nights and every other Bioware game. Same basic plot. Same characters. Same quests. I had played it all before. In fact, as soon as I met one of the characters, I was so sure she would leave the party at some point and join the bad buys and I would have to choose to save her or kill her that I never gave her good gear just in case she took her stuff with her when she left and sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. I don’t get the love for this game, or most other Bioware games for that matter. They just made the same game over and over and over again and most people didn’t seem to notice.

  20. Darth Gangrel says:

    Kotor is one of my favorite games, mostly for the music and environments, but also for the great first impression that never leaves you. It’s got a great mod community as well and is one of the games responsible for my huge backlog.

    Like most RPG’s, the combat isn’t the strongest feature, but it does have a very rare mechanic of letting you pause the game and select up to four different actions for your party members. It makes for great strategies and satisfying combo’s as well as reducing the micro-management needed, because your computer controlled party members are never that good at picking the best option.

    It’s a great system and I’ve long been frustrated about how no other game borrowed it, until I played Of Orcs and Men. It’s a clearly inferior, but very enjoyable, game compared to Kotor. This mechanic of being able to select four different actions and, above all, to cancel the other party member’s actions makes all the difference and I’ve heard that the Styx games also have it, making it rise several steps on my to-play-next-list.

  21. Vasily R says:

    I’ve most definitely played KOTOR. By the time I played it, I had already been gaming for a decade, mostly action, sports, racing, and platforming games. What KOTOR did for me, was open me up to the world of RPGs, something I had little experience with before. I also really enjoyed the second game, even though it seems most others found it to be disappointing.