One of the great things about Star Wars is that it inspires endless debates and opinions on a wide array of topics. Best bounty hunter? Most powerful Jedi? Does Salacious Crumb have the best haircut in the saga? In that spirit, StarWars.com presents From a Certain Point of View: a series of point-counterpoints on some of the biggest — and most fun — Star Wars issues. In this installment, two StarWars.com writers go toe-to-toe to debate the best classic Star Wars game.
The best classic Star Wars game is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, says Alex.
I’ve spent more time writing about Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic than any other video game. It’s also the Star Wars game I’ve played the most, though Battlefront II (2017), at 321 hours, certainly comes close. All this to say that I’m a little biased. But after 16 years, my love for the game, known simply as KotOR to many fans, has only grown.
The very first single-player Star Wars RPG for consoles and PCs, Knights of the Old Republic was a long shot on the part of LucasArts, a bold attempt to tell the most spectacular Star Wars story outside the films with arguably the biggest plot twist since Darth Vader’s reveal on Bespin.
Years later, and the results still speak for themselves. Even fans who aren’t gamers are aware of the deep and enduring fondness folks have for Darth Revan, Bastila Shan, and HK-47. Set in the Old Republic of legend — 4,000 years before the rise of Darth Sidious — BioWare’s 2003 RPG let the player inhabit a character of their own creation, explore seven well-populated worlds, and live out the fantasy of becoming a Jedi Knight. Brandishing a customized lightsaber, you take on a galaxy overrun with vile Sith and greedy interplanetary corporations, and meet countless innocents who could use the help of a Jedi. Assuming, that is, you don’t opt for the dark side’s seductive path — which is an equally viable way to experience KotOR’s open-ended, choice-driven story.
If Knights of the Old Republic were released today, it would probably still be met with universal acclaim for its turn-based d20 System combat (programmed to simulate the D&D-style dice rolls of the 2000 Star Wars Roleplaying Game), richly developed companion characters, and unforgettable story. For many, the legend of Revan, Bastila, and the Star Forge is as timeless and mythically significant as the Star Wars tales explored on film. And, some graphical limitations notwithstanding, it’s a game that should live on just as long.
The best classic Star Wars game is really Star Wars: X-Wing, says Brendan.
I think that Alex has some excellent points to make about KotOR. As a piece of narrative art, it’s one that absolutely captivated me when I first played it, and blew my mind when I reached the famous plot twist.
But it’s not number one in my book. That honor is still with an absolute all-time classic — Star Wars: X-Wing. For me, it was an entry into the Star Wars galaxy that gave me a unique view of galactic war from the cockpit of my favorite Rebel Alliance fighters.
The game sends you into the fray as a rookie pilot tasked with a number of missions. During your tour of duty, you’ll have opportunities to fly all kinds of combat scenarios in X-wing, Y-wing, A-wing, and even B-wing fighters, leveraging their different strengths and weaknesses. From the seemingly mundane escort missions to the tactically challenging attacks on Imperial supply convoys and, of course, the fast-paced dogfights, X-Wing delivers a surprising amount of variety.
And this is a relatively complex simulator game. You’ll need to use your smarts to keep your S-foils open and deflector shields on double-front. In other words, this was a game that absolutely required that you read the manual to understand the basic controls. A decent joystick to play along with a keyboard for the ship’s different commands was also a must.
Admittedly, by today’s standards, the graphics are low-resolution, even if the 3D models were cutting-edge at the time. But the game still has an incredible sense of immersion, which made me feel like I was really flying an honest-to-goodness starfighter. And, when the game is too hard (which, in some spots, it absolutely still is!), I can always turn on invincibility mode and enjoy taking out enemies like I’m Wedge Antilles.
Other games in the series improved the graphics or shifted the narrative around for Imperial sympathizers. But, as a rebel at heart, my allegiance belongs to the daring dogfights and memorable missions of X-Wing.
What do you think? Did Alex get it right? Do you side with Brendan? Or maybe they’re both wrong. Let us know in the comments below and on social using #FromACertainPOV!
Alex Kane is a journalist based in west-central Illinois. He has written for Fangoria, Polygon, the website of Rolling Stone, Variety, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjkane.
Brendan Nystedt was very afraid of Darth Vader hiding under his bed when he was five years old. Please follow him on Twitter @bnystedt!
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