Adventures in old Bioware games

After being coopted into a Star Wars marathon for new year’s, I’ve started playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. This is an older Bioware game (2003), which I had yet to get round to.

It’s interesting to see how things have evolved since KOTOR was released. For one thing, its D&D origins are much more transparent. I can play Dragon Age and not think about the numbers behind the scenes. I play KOTOR and I can see that, oh, this weapon is a 1d6, and it crits on 2×20. Or this is a cross-class skill, so it costs more than the others.

It’s only in the last year that I’ve played D&D. I wonder how much sense things like the crit number would have made to me before then?

The other thing that makes me aware of the game’s age is how frustratingly far apart the auto-saves are. I expect my games to save after a boss battle or similar sort of achievement! Especially if it’s going to lead almost immediately to something else I might die in. Because chances are I will.

But some things haven’t changed: the first companion you get is still voiced by Raphael Sbarge. He voiced Kaiden, who was my Shepard’s love interest in Mass Effect. And Carth in KOTOR sounds pretty much the same. Which means I keep calling him ‘Kaiden’ when I talk to my computer screen. And I put up with a lot more of his, ‘look, you can’t trust anyone’ angst than I otherwise might!

On the other hand, there’s another companion who has the same voice actor as Commander Shepard, and they sound completely different! I don’t think I would have realised if I hadn’t already known. (When I say the same VA as Shepard, I mean Jennifer Hale. The voice of the one true Shepard. Not that dude they have on the cover.)

Part of it is that Bastila, your KOTOR companion, has a British accent, and Shepard does not. But even aside from that, their voices are distinctive. Bastila has a softer, breathier voice. Shepard’s is stronger, more authoritative – maybe that second part is more how the dialogue is expressed, I don’t know. But I could never get the two of them confused.

Storywise, I’m enjoying the game thus far – certainly more than I enjoy the actual Star Wars movies /bad sci-fi nerd. My favourite companion at this point is Mission, who’s a teenage girl, with a convincingly teenaged view of things. She and Carth have some pretty entertaining conversations. I like it when my companions argue with one another, but I like it best when they end up getting along.

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