Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – Throwback 20

Even before the purchase of Star Wars by Disney at the end of 2012 fans of the franchise would discuss how much a project would count in canon. Fans would go into debates about what is and isn’t canon (something that’s still done), and what level of canon it was.

The fact that there was a five tier ranking system for how much something counted, shows how wild stuff got towards the end. As such, when Disney took over and made anything that was a film or The Clone Wars series non-canon it made things easier. Of course, this upset many fans, and arguments then began of what should be remade canon. One thing that the vast majority of fans agree on, however, is that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic deserves to be.

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Created by Bioware, the studio that would go on to create the hugely popular role-playing game series Mass Effect and Dragon AgeStar Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is set four thousand years before the events of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. When work began on the game, Bioware were given two choices of setting from LucasArts, set around the events of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, or the Old Republic. Bioware opted to head into the past, a choice that allowed them huge creative freedom, and the opportunity to expand the Star Wars mythos in new and exciting ways.

The game begins during the early days of the Galactic Republic, a few years after the close of the Mandalorian Wars, a conflict that raged across the galaxy as the war-like Mandalorians fought against the Republic forces. The Republic were led by a pair of rogue Jedi Knight, Revan and Malak (Rafael Ferrer), who have since vanished into the Unknown Regions of space. The pair returned years later, leading a Sith armada, the two of them having fallen to the Dark Side. As the game begins, Revan has been killed by the Jedi in an assault on their forces, and Darth Malak has taken over.

© 2003 LucasArts.

Players get to choose their own character to play, with the game dropping you into the middle of a battle against Sith forces. You’re able to choose your gender, appearance, name, and which class you wish to play, with three options available to you. As the game progresses and you level up, you are given skill points that you can spend however you wish, further tailoring your character to best suit your play style. After a brief introduction in which your ship is under Sith attack, the game drops you onto a planet, and from there you’re pretty much left to go your own way. You’re able to discover missions by talking to people, which often have multiple ways to be solved, and you can recruit several new companions to your side even before leaving this first world.

As the game progresses you’re able to recruit more people to your side, ranging from droids, to bounty hunters, and even Jedi. You also learn that your character has latent but powerful Force abilities, and are able to become a Jedi yourself, at which point you get to pick a Jedi path to follow, unlocking even more skills and powers. Even though the game is twenty years old, I won’t be going too deep into the story, as it’s still one of the most engaging and creative narratives found in a Star Wars game, if not the entire franchise. The story of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic deserves to be experienced, rather than just having it told to you, so it’s one that I very much encourage you to go out and discover, if you’ve never played it before.

© 2003 LucasArts.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was released on both the PC and the Xbox, with the Xbox being chosen as the only console that Bioware felt would be able to run the game as well as PC. The Xbox version of the game would go on to sell more than 250,000 copies in the first four days of release, making it the highest selling game on the platform at that time. It’s reported that the game eventually sold more than 3.2 million copies during the Xbox’s lifetime. The game didn’t just do well in sales, however, and reviews for it were favourable from the outset. The majority of industry reviewers gave the game top marks, with it receiving near perfect scores. It would also go on to win numerous awards, including Game of the Year across a number of outlets. It is still ranked as one of the best games released on the Xbox, and as one of the highest rated Star Wars games ever.

The success meant that a sequel was all but guaranteed, and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords was released less than two years later, though it would not receive the same level of success as the first game. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic would later be released on other platforms, including in the Google Play Store, the Xbox One, and most recently on the Nintendo Switch. A remake was announced in 2021, which has many fans speculating that the new version will be bringing the events of the game into the Disney canon. This is something that has been touched upon in canon already, with references having been made to characters and locations in both animation and the Sequel Trilogy, as well as a scene featuring Darth Revan’s spirit having been removed from an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

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With the game continuing to be released on modern consoles, with a remake in the works, and small pieces of the setting being scattered throughout the series like Easter-eggs it looks like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic might survive the old canon purge, even if it takes a while. Even if it doesn’t, it’s still a phenomenal game that any Star Wars fan, and anyone who loves a good RPG, will want to play.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was released in the UK on 12th September 2003.

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