Matt Chat 25: Knights of the Old Republic

Matt Barton's picture

Hi, folks. This week I look at another of my favorite CRPGs, Bioware's Knights of the Old Republic.

Having lots of fun with the game--indeed, it was hard to pull myself away from it to make this video. If you haven't tried it yet, perhaps this video will be enough to spur a purchase. It handles very well on the Xbox. I might caution you away from the PC version, though, at least if you're running Vista 64. Frequent crashes even with the latest patches applied.

Still, nothing can ruin this brilliant game!

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Rowdy Rob
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Yet another excellent video

I still haven't recovered from last weeks video, and am still addicted to "Ur-Quan Masters." Now I have to play KOTOR. It actually seems far different than the standard RPG's I've seen, judging from your video. Am I wrong to say that it's obviously a precursor to modern RPG's like "Mass Effect" and "Fallout 3?"

I was quite surprised to see you choose KOTOR over "Baldur's Gate." I thought you were strongly leaning towards the latter. Still, it was a pleasant surprise, since I've been wanting to play KOTOR for a long time. I guess I'll have to dig out my XBox and find a copy of KOTOR as soon as I finish up with "Ur-Quan Masters."

Is KOTOR a game that would appeal to the "hardcore" RPG'er, or is it an entirely different animal that "Baldur's Gate" or "Wizardry" players would balk at? Obviously you like KOTOR, and you like the others too, but is KOTOR lighter fare aimed at "beginner" RPG'ers? That's almost how it comes across.

*"Ur-Quan Masters" Update: After a week of fairly heavy playing, I've just been informed by the "Kor-ah" that all sentient races have been eliminated, and that I have been defeated! %&+@!!!!! Well, that sucked. I hardly had a chance! I'm not feeling like starting all over again, so I'll give this game a rest for a while...

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sascha/hdrs (not verified)
Nice!

Hey, love your Matt Chat series! Very well done! I like the cozy atmosphere in that you represent the games, with the game shelf in the background and all. Much better than all the others!

I totally dig SF roleplaying games ever since the 80ties when I found titles like Sentinel Worlds: Future Magic or Hard Nova and being sort of a Star Wars fan I also played SWKotoR. The game is quite good but for me the ending is a bit of a let-down. Also the GUI artwork is very unimaginative. The in-game environments look very steril and the D20 system feels underpowered but besides that it's a nice game with lots of atmosphere. I still have to finish the sequel someday which I think is even better.

Mark Vergeer
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And yet another Matt chat excellent video...

And as always this is a great video. It seems you are getting more and more subscribers now!

An ongoing discussion on video games on Armchair Arcade. This time a video reply to the Matt Chat on the Star Wars KOTOR game. Excellent video as always.

Mind you there is nothing wrong with the sound - I lost my voice and have a sore throat so I am not going to be using that raspy voice, instead I am going to mime the whole thing.

Good solid game series on the original Xbox, those Star Wars games by the way.

I was sitting on the couch and was reading through the latest edition of the UK Gaming Mag Retro Gamer www.imagineshop.co.uk & www.retrogamer.net and discovered that the Retro Booty section features Matt Barton's 'Dungeons & Desktops'.

This is what they say about it:
'The original started life as an in-depth online article and has since become a mammoth 451 page tome. Covering every single aspect of computer role playing games, it's a fascinating read covering an oft-neglected but important genre of videogame's history.'

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Matt Barton
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Thanks for your comments,

Thanks for your comments, guys! It's always a thrill to hear from people who watch and enjoy my show. Believe it or not, it's a lot of hard work making these episodes, but a few good comments and interesting discussions make it all worth it.

@Rob--Trying to feel sorry for you for getting addicted to Ur-Quan Masters, but can't do it, friend. ;) I think one great thing about this show is that while many may be familiar with some or all of the games, occasionally one might surface that they haven't tried. It's rewarding to think that I kindled the fire on some of these venerable classics. Not to sound cocky, but how hard is it, really, to make the latest Madden or Halo look great? On the other hand, delving into the other stuff and casting in its best light is a trickier process.

@sascha/hdrs -- Wow, Hard Nova and Sentinel; you don't hear too many people talking about those titles. You must have a very good background in CRPGs! Perhaps I should try covering some more hybrid RPGs such as Auto Duel or perhaps System Shock. Hmm... By the way, your blog looks great!

@Mark -- Woot!!! I'm always excited to see such positive publicity about the books. I'm still bummed that no publishers are interested in Floyd Lives, but perhaps that will change after we release the movie. Speaking of which, I should probably be uploading footage right now.

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Matt Barton
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I just managed to beat this

I just managed to beat this game just a few minutes ago--and whoa, was that ever intense!!!

I don't really know what you mean by the ending not being a let down. I thought it was a great ending (at least the one I received). Sure, everything didn't turn out well, but that just makes it feel more realistic and poignant. I don't want to risk spoiling anything for people here who haven't played it, yet, but I thought this was a very mature storyline that had some real daring.

The graphics were probably as good as could have been expected at the time, given the original Xbox's limitations. Sure, I would have liked to have seen a lot more faces and body types, perhaps a greater variety of alien creatures. The item upgrades could have been more extensive as well. I might also have liked more attention to how different items would affect the looks of the characters. But these are just nit-picky things! The only real flaw is the aforementioned bugs and crashes, but I'm unsure how these affect the Xbox version. I'd think it would be more stable since they didn't have to worry about copy protection, but I did read reports that it was also quite buggy. There's really no excuse for that; it's a serious flaw in this otherwise marvelous gem.

In any case, for all you folks out there who haven't given this game a shot, by all means do so at your earliest convenience. I seriously doubt you'll be disappointed if you enjoy good CRPGs.

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sascha/hdrs (not verified)
SWKotoR Ending

Let's just say I have a good background on SF-themed RPGs. ;) Although I do enjoy some of the Fantasy themed ones too.

It's been a while since I've played SWKotoR but I think what bothered me was that the scenario with the Starforge felt too rushed and too plain for me. The environment graphics were basically ok but in my opinion were too clean and too bright. But what bothers me most about later Bioware games in general is the limited explorable area. I guess I'm a sucker for open worlds a la Oblivion. ;)

But nevertheless I have many good memories about the game and I will surely want to finish the second part someday. I found the story of the sequel even more interesting!

Interestingly the Windows version was always running very stable for me. Usually it's the opposite.

Alexander M (not verified)
I disagree on your views on

I disagree on your views on KOTOR. The game is a far cry from Baldurs Gate II, its too easy, too short, the plot is too cliche, the main villain uninteresting, the inventory system is unwieldy, the combat has too few options, and the characters are for the most part recycled eg: Bastila/Aribeth from NWN....
I've completed the game two times, and the first playthrough leaves the best impression. On the second you realise how shallow the game is, and how little optional content it has.
My feeling is that its a streamlined, dumbed down version of Baldur's Gate II gameplay and that its nowhere near the quality of that game.

Mark Vergeer
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too short?
Alexander M wrote:

I disagree on your views on KOTOR. The game is a far cry from Baldurs Gate II, its too easy, too short, the plot is too cliche, the main villain uninteresting, the inventory system is unwieldy, the combat has too few options, and the characters are for the most part recycled eg: Bastila/Aribeth from NWN....
I've completed the game two times, and the first playthrough leaves the best impression. On the second you realise how shallow the game is, and how little optional content it has.
My feeling is that its a streamlined, dumbed down version of Baldur's Gate II gameplay and that its nowhere near the quality of that game.

Hmm Matt did go through the game rather quickly, he just purchased an xbox with the game and must have played it straight through. Matt how many hours did you spend playing the game?

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Matt Barton
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Sounds like something just

Sounds like something just didn't click with you, Alexander. Sometimes that happens for me, as well. For instance, I am having to forcefeed myself on Final Fantasy IV on my DS, even though many critics wear out their pompoms praising the damn thing. I try very hard to see what all the fuss is about, but all I see is a game that relies almost exclusively on repetitive random encounters to drag out the gameplay. What should probably take 6-8 hours to complete ends up taking weeks. Any attachment to the characters or interest in the story is diminished (or even forgotten) by the time you finally slog though a hundred (thousands?) random encounters with the same few types of critter just to get to the next save point--and if you don't make it, woe unto you. You get the "added value" of starting over from your last save, which could well have been hours ago. I just don't "get it," I guess, which is fine. I can appreciate the storyline and all, but it literally feels like it takes too much "work" (not play) to get there. I would never recommend this game. Perhaps I'm just cynical, but the only reason I can imagine for its incredible popularity is that folks just don't know any better. Maybe they've missed the boat entirely on computer RPGs and just don't realize what they missed.

I wasn't tracking the hours, but I know it took me at least 20 to get through KOTOR, and I'm fine with that. I don't expect a game to keep me entertained for months, especially if they're dragging out the length with repetition or grinding. As I've said in earlier posts, I don't mind if a game has a bunch of optional content for folks who want to savor it (a la Oblivion/Morrowind), but I want to be through and done with the main quest in 20 hours or less. In fact, I'd much rather have a game that gave me a polished 6 hours of gameplay than one that used various means to drag it out to 50.

All this said, I'm on record for saying Baldur's Gate II is the best CRPG ever made, and I haven't changed my mind on that. I think it's the best for many reasons, but one good reason is that I never felt like I was "working" while playing it. Much like KOTOR for me, the game was nothing but fun from start to finish. It was more complex and difficult in many ways, of course, but nothing like you'd get in something like Wizard's Crown or Pool of Radiance.

I was also bugged by KOTOR's inventory system, and they use the same damn one in Mass Effect. I guess it like it better than having to shuffle the load around all the characters, but it would have benefited from a more PC-centric interface (or at least more sorting options). I felt this especially when searching for datapads and the like. It bears a sickening resemblance to the inventory system in Final Fantasy IV...:)

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sascha/hdrs (not verified)
inv system

I agree, the Inventory system in SWKotoR is just plain horrible. And yes in Mass Effect it's the same bad system with an even more boring GUI artwork. Talking about GUI ... in NWNII the GUI is very small if you play on a high resolution. Bioware is doing something wrong with their GUI artwork (seems they've lost it after Baldur's Gate).

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