It’s the 10th anniversary of one of the greatest Star Wars video games ever made, and BioWare has teamed up with Aspyr Media to bring Knights of the Old Republic to the iPad, a gift to the series’ devoted fans. Well, a gift to the series’ most devoted fans who also own an iPad — the rest of them may have just been gifted with the desperate urge to give Apple several hundred dollars.
It may not coerce many of the mouse and keyboard Jedi, currently enjoying the similarly low price of $9.99 for the Steam version of Knights of the Old Republic, but for me there may be no going back. I’ve tried to really get into the game since my initial play-throughs way back in 2003 on the original Xbox, but I’ve not felt that original compulsion until I could hold the game in my hands, navigating Sara “Randomly Generated” Starcrod and friends with a flick of my fingers.
This is the full version of the original game. The only tweaks made were with the controls, because touchscreen. The graphics might look a bit sharper, but that’s just because older games always look better on a smaller screen. It’s an illusion I gladly accept.
This is BioWare at its best, or at least its best in the early 2000’s. Star Wars: The Old Republic is a feast of compelling characters, heavy moral decisions that make a real impact, and the old emotional engagement. While the visuals and animations aren’t all that impressive in the face of 10 years of progress, the voice acting and story is just as amazing as it was when the game still had that wonderful freshly-opened game case scent.
I had almost completely forgotten how much I missed some of these characters…
…and detested others.
I play Light Side of the Force generally, but if I ever go dark, you can be sure Carth Onasi is to blame. Call me by a pet name one more time, Carth, and see how many innocents I kill.
So yes, this is Knights of the Old Republic, a classic piece of interactive Star Wars that launched an entirely new era for the franchise. I am not here to review the original classic — you should have played it already, at least enough to know the big twist at the end — you are really Chewbacca.
No, I am here to review the iPad port, and aside from a little clumsiness with the movement controls, I’m having more fun with Knights of the Old Republic than I have in years.
Branching dialogues are handled via numbered responses, with choices appearing on the right side of the screen, convenient to your thumb, should you have one.
When enemies come into view the game pauses, giving the player time to pick a target and select a series of actions. Hit go, and your character will perform those actions, after which you can add more or just let auto-attack sort things out. It works quite well.
In fact, most of the game mechanics work incredibly well, with the exceptions of movement. Movement is handled by using your thumb to move the camera, and then pushing forward to make your character move in that direction. In wide open spaces it’s not too back, but in cramped quarters I found myself getting stuck behind Mission, Zaalbar and Carth quite often. I suspect Carth was doing it on purpose, because Carth is an arse.
The biggest boon of the touchscreen version of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is definitely menu navigation. Adding touch to these tweaked versions of the original menus gives the whole affair a sci-fi datapad feeling. Makes me want to play wearing a Lobot headset.
Playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on the iPad is like curling up with a dog-eared copy of a beloved book. It’s a more personal and immediate means of tripping through a galaxy far away a long, long, long, long time ago. While the overall experience is largely unchanged, those tiny moments between you, Mission Vao, and a raging Rancor beast are much more intimate when you can touch the screen sadly before searching for a FAQ on the internet to aid your failing memory.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Developer: BioWare, Aspyr Media
Get Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic from the iTunes App Store.